Top ten… Hermann Tilke corners |

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Guest writer Ned Flanders picks his ten favourite Hermann Tilke designed corners.

Hermann Tilke ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ Formula?óÔé¼Ôäós 1 circuit guru of the moment ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ is not one of the most popular figures in F1. But with over half of the 2010 calendar partially or entirely drawn up by Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós pen, it?óÔé¼Ôäós fair to say that modern Formula 1 has been well and truly Tilkefied.

In the build up to the debut of his latest creation, the Korean International Circuit, it?óÔé¼Ôäós worth reflecting on his achievements in Formula 1.

1. Jochen Rindt Kurve, A1 Ring, Austria (1997 ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ 2003)

The A1 Ring ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ built on the site of the old Osterreichring during the mid 90s ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ was chosen to host the Austrian Grand Prix when it was reinstated to the F1 calendar in 1997, and did so a further six times until its demise in 2003. A simple configuration made up of short straights connected by just nine mainly low speed corners, it was the first high profile circuit to be designed by a German engineer named Hermann Tilke.

Unfortunately for Tilke, his creation was largely derided by fans and drivers alike. What had once been a fast, flowing circuit sweeping through the foothills of the Styrian Mountains had been reduced to a stop- start course which offered little challenge to the drivers.

However, the one saving grace of the A1 Ring was that it remained as undulating as its predecessor. This transformed the penultimate turn, the Jochen Rindt Kurve, from what might otherwise have been a fairly straightforward corner into a challenging downhill right hand swoop which would have been worthy of a spot on the original Osterreichring.

2. Turns one and two, Istanbul Park, Turkey

Although many believe that Tilke designed racetracks are inferior to traditional circuits, one new venue which has been embraced by spectators is the Istanbul Park circuit in Turkey.

A circuit with elevation changes greater than almost any other on the calendar, Istanbul Park mixes the traditional Tilke elements of excellent facilities and safety features with a series of corners which both challenge the drivers and create overtaking opportunities.

Amongst the best corners on the track is the blind left- right at the beginning of the lap. The cars drop downhill into a medium speed left hander followed immediately by a flat out right hander, a sequence of turns reminiscent of the Senna S at Interlagos .

In the six previous Turkish Grands Prix, the complex has been the scene of a number of major incidents ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ most notably several first lap collisions and Lewis Hamilton?óÔé¼Ôäós manoeuvre on teammate Jenson Button in 2010.

3. Turns 12 and 13, Sepang, Malaysia

Another of Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós more popular creations is the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia. Located around 60km south of the country?óÔé¼Ôäós capital Kuala Lumpur, the circuit?óÔé¼Ôäós arrival in 1999 was the first of many increasingly extravagant venues on the F1 calendar.

When completed the facilities at Sepang were unprecedented, with huge grandstands catering for thousands of fans and garages which dwarfed those found at older racetracks.

It has since been usurped by other new venues in terms of the grandeur, but few modern courses can rival its driving challenge. The pick of its many fast, sweeping corners is probably the fast chicane at turns 12 and 13. Approached downhill at around 150mph, the sequence is taken flat out and, with turn 13 effectively acting as the braking zone for 14, it?óÔé¼Ôäós a challenging corner for the drivers.

4. 100R, Fuji, Japan (2007 ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ 2008)

When the Toyota owned Fuji circuit returned to the F1 calendar for the 2007 season, racing fans were up in arms ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ and not just at the loss of Suzuka which it had replaced. The redesigned Fuji Speedway was criticised as being one of the most sterile circuits in modern F1.

Tilke had been heavily constrained by the circuit owners. He was asked not only to keep the track layout as similar as possible to the previous circuit (which had hosted two Grand Prix?óÔé¼Ôäós in the 1970s) he was also asked to ensure Formula 1 lap times remained well over a minute in keeping with other modern circuits. Inevitably, since the original Fuji was little more than one long straight connected by a few sweeping bends, this proved difficult.

Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós unimaginative solution was to add a series of hairpins to the final sector of the circuit. Unsurprisingly, the new circuit went down like a lead balloon; Keith labelled it the worst in F1.

But Fuji does have at least one fan. Despite it?óÔé¼Ôäós undeniably sleep inducing final sector, I love the circuit for its incredible setting at the foot of Mount Fuji, its elevation changes and its history ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ Fuji was of course the setting for the first ever Grand Prix in Asia, and scene of James Hunt?óÔé¼Ôäós 1976 title triumph. With its long straight and ever present threat of rain, it also makes for great racing. And amongst its uninteresting first gear hairpins there are also a couple of excellent corners too. 100R, a long downhill right hander taken almost flat out, is probably the best of them.

5. Turns two to four, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi

In the United Arab Emirates, things are never done by half, and the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi is no exception. Built on an almost limitless budget, the circuit is located on Yas Island ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ a $36 billion tourist development reclaimed from the Persian Gulf ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ and features such novelties as an underground pit lane exit, a Grandstand built above the run-off area and a harbour front section designed to replicate the streets of Monte Carlo.

Whether this ?óÔé¼?£money no object?óÔé¼Ôäó attitude to building racetracks is good or not, Yas Marina is the most soulless of all the Grand Prix venues, and the $1.3 billion lavished on the circuit by the Abu Dhabi authorities could have been put to far better use.

However circuit officials did ensure some of the expense was put towards creating a memorable circuit. On an otherwise flat island, a manmade hill was created to add some variety to the circuit, transforming turn two to four into an Eau Rouge-esque sweeper. Approached at almost 160mph, the corner is taken comfortably flat out in low fuel conditions and as such is not hugely challenging for drivers, yet the sight of Formula 1 cars hurtling downhill through the kink of turn four in particular is impressive.

6. Turns five to seven, Sakhir, Bahrain (2004 ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ 2009)

It?óÔé¼Ôäós easy to forget that before it was extended in 2010, the Bahrain International Circuit was considered a decent circuit, certainly one of Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós best efforts. A mix of long straights and a range of low and high speed corners, Sakhir was seen as a test of both driver and car.

Arguably the best corner on the circuit was the S bend made up of turns five, six and seven. Approached in fifth gear, the track bends left before suddenly veering right into a tighter corner, and then sweeping left again through the flat out, downhill of turn seven.

However, the corner was neutered by the introduction of the ?óÔé¼?£endurance loop?óÔé¼Ôäó. Located between turn four and what was previously turn 5, the extension rendered the S bend little more than a comfortable flat out acceleration zone. Circuit officials had claimed the new layout would offer ?óÔé¼?ôa new challenge and new overtaking opportunities?óÔé¼?Ø, and organisers have now revealed that next year?óÔé¼Ôäós race will take place in the original layout which has hosted the Grand Prix since 2004

7. Turn 14, Shanghai, China

The Shanghai International Circuit is one of Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós most grandiose creations. Costing almost half a billion dollars to construct, the 3.4 mile track is dwarfed by the vast architecture which surrounds it, particularly the towering main grandstand.

Shanghai International Circuit aerial map

The track layout itself is not one of Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós best, made up of several seemingly perpetual sweepers and long straights. But driving challenge is not the only criteria on which a corner should be judged. Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós main aim when designing circuits is to provide overtaking opportunities and no corner provides as good a passing place as Shanghai?óÔé¼Ôäós turn 14.

As a test of drivers?óÔé¼Ôäó speed, the corner is inconsequential; but as a test of the drivers?óÔé¼Ôäó racecraft it?óÔé¼Ôäós as good as any. A tight hairpin situated at the end of a kilometre long straight, it?óÔé¼Ôäós been the scene of countless moments of excitement in the Chinese Grand Prix?óÔé¼Ôäós seven year history; from Michael Schumacher?óÔé¼Ôäós hounding of the Renault?óÔé¼Ôäós in 2006 to Sebastian Vettel?óÔé¼Ôäós pass for the lead on Jenson Button in 2009, and more recently Sebastien Buemi?óÔé¼Ôäós spectacular suspension failure in 2010.

8. Turns 18 and 19, Valencia Street Circuit, Spain

The Valencia Street Circuit is undoubtedly the most derided of all the Tilkedromes. Announced in 2007 off the back of soaring Spanish interest in F1, the circuit was seen by the Valencia authorities as a means of attracting tourists to the city and rejuvenating the dock area where the track is located.

However, poor crowd figures, tedious races and the venue?óÔé¼Ôäós reputation as a poor man?óÔé¼Ôäós Monaco mean that Valencia has become the circuit everyone loves to hate.

The layout itself is also largely uninspiring, yet it does have its points of interest. The final sector of the lap, a flat out blast through a series of kinks from turn 17 to 25, may not be hugely challenging for the drivers, but it makes for spectacular TV footage as the cars hurtle between the concrete walls at almost 200mph. The high speed left-right chicane that makes up turns 18 and 19 is the pick.

9. Turn 8, Istanbul Park, Turkey

Istanbul Park?óÔé¼Ôäós thrilling turn eight is widely agreed to be not only the most spectacular corner ever designed by Tilke, but also one of the best corner?óÔé¼Ôäós on the F1 calendar. An undulating left-hander consisting of four separate apexes, turn eight?óÔé¼Ôäós challenge is enhanced further by its jarring bumps; an almost unique characteristic not only of Tilke-designed venues but of all modern F1 tracks.

The statistics alone are incredible. From entrance to exit, turn eight is roughly 600m long and takes around 8 seconds to navigate, making it the longest corner on the calendar. Drivers experience G forces of up to 5.2g, with the strain averaging 4.3g over the 8 seconds. The quickest cars are able to take the corner at an average speed of 160mph, often gaining several tenths of a second on downforce deficient rivals.

Turn eight never fails to catch the unprepared, although its vast tarmac run off ensures few drivers ever make it as far as the barriers. In Istanbul?óÔé¼Ôäós inaugural event in 2005, the corner caused havoc for several drivers during qualifying, while it cost Juan Pablo Montoya second place. The following year, it was Michael Schumacher who was caught out, losing valuable time in his pursuit of Fernando Alonso.

10. Final turn, Korean International Circuit

Little is known about the latest circuit to be introduced to the Formula 1 calendar, the Korean International Circuit in South Jeolla province. But the track layout displays some promise ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ including the unusual final corner.

Over to you

For all his flaws I believe Hermann Tilke deserves more credit than he gets for his F1 circuits. Despite working under some extremely restrictive regulations, he?óÔé¼Ôäós managed to design some excellent corners, whether they be challenging for drivers, spectacular for spectators and TV viewers or conducive to overtaking.

But this is your chance to put me right. Do you feel Hermann Tilke has done more harm than good to F1? Is racing better at traditional circuits than Tilkedromes? Or are there any other corners or circuits designed by Tilke that deserve a mention? Let us know your opinion below.

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112 comments on “Top ten… Hermann Tilke corners |”

  1. “For all his flaws I believe Hermann Tilke deserves more credit than he gets for his F1 circuits. Despite working under some extremely restrictive regulations, he’s managed to design some excellent corners”

    The problem is that for every 1 decent corner, there are 10 more that are constant radius bores.

    Monopolies are never good things, and certainly not in F1. It’s easy to blame the regs but as the new section at Silverstone proves (in my opinion), letting new track designers in on the act keeps everyone on their toes. Problem is, due to the monopoly, the cheapest option will always be to hire Tilke.

    1. Agree…. just because he designed 10 “great” cornes from total of 250 doesnt mean he deserves credit.

      To be honest, from drivers stand of point, there is nothing like old track where Tilke wasnt involved yet. Hes tracks are just to boring.

      1. Sure, Tilke did about 10-15 interesting corners on those circuits and a whole lot mediocre or bad corners. Still not to bad.
        But the updates to existing circuits he did will have done more to get fans booing him. He happened to dismantle a lot of great corners giving very little in return (even if the rules might have a lot to do with that).

        I also think he is too much into spectacular buildings. And dven though that’s what gets most new era investors interested, it does not mean to the actual fans of the sport. And Tilke was never much into bringing the fans close to the track and see a lot.

        Still, those historic tracks are great only because their origin was racing on real streats (Monaco, Spa) or they were developed and grew into their current form over years. The technical regulations will make sure no such track will ever evolve again and it is much too soon to have us get fond of the new tracks.

        Monopoly has been bad for Tilkes creativity (the best were his first ones Malaysia and Turkey), let’s hope competition (populous) came in time and Tavo pushes Tilke to new hights in Austin.

        1. I’m hoping that Tavo pushes Tilke simply as a former racer and racing enthusiast himself. He’s talked about how they went back and forth to get the design to the point where they were satisfied with it, so we’ll see…

          1. I have that same hope – as Ned mentions, A1-ring was bound to be disappointing (it couldn’t stay as it was, amazing – and dangerous as it was). I think Ned did do a great job of showing the good bits of the Tilke-tracks. But it would be much better if Tilke was able to convince event organizers more often that a track is about racing mainly, not about architecture. The silly pit-tunnel at Abu Dhabi is just a stupid gimmic, that offers little because they forgot to put in a good camera position inside and made it too narrow to get some speed. Safety, no doubt.

    2. I agree the problem is the Tilke monopoly of F1 tracks and redesigns, they all end up feeling very samey.

      Its not that Tilke hasn’t designed some great tracks and corners (he has).

  2. I adore Fuji and actually prefer it to Suzuka…

    Turn eight at Turkey must be by far the most insane corner in F1, maybe even the best corner. That used to be Eau Rouge but that is flat out these days, turn eight is a total challenge, and you need a lot of guts to try it flat out.

    1. Agree about turn 8. The stress itn puts on the driver and car is insane too. The best corner in F1 right now and by a mile.

      I like Fuji. I prefer Suzuka as a track (first sector is the definition os terrifying) but I like watching the races at Fuji as I find them more exciting.

    2. The Redbulls took corner 8 in 2010 flatout, the rest didn’t:)

      1. Seb didn’t, Webber could thanks to his car setup!

  3. I personally preferred it if the FIA let the Drivers design circuits. I mean they are the ones who race on them so they should have an input. I always get a headache if I watch a race on a Hermann Tilke circuit.

    Anyone agree??

    1. For the Indian GP in 2011, the teams have given their input on the circuit and suggested changes to the original circuit draft.

    2. Apparently Pedro de la Rosa had a large hand in the design of the Motorland Aragon track in Spain, and that seems to be a decent circuit, so you may have a point

  4. I tend to hate Tilkodromes. And most of you told the reason.
    Some good excpetions: downhill S at Sepang (5 and 6, can’t remember the names), long right hander before 1 km straight in Shangai, turn 3 at Istanbul…and the ones you mentioned.
    Anyway, then curves on some hundreds…it’s really a few!!!

  5. I meant “ten out of some hundreds”

  6. That final Korean corner looks like Variante Ascari at Monza

    1. I noticed that as well.

  7. i agree that the ’tilke-bashing’ is a bit too extreme, the track regs dont allow alot of scope. but i also think they should commision other designers aswell rather than just using tilke all the time.

    if monaco was only introduced recently would we still hold it in as high regard as we do? maybe for the scenery, but not for racing excitement.

  8. Prisoner Monkeys
    22nd August 2010, 13:38

    Interesting that turns nine and ten at Bahrain didn’t rate a mention. The only way to take ten properly is to brake through nine – while turning at the same time. And that’s not easy.

    1. is that the downhill left to left hairpin? definately one of my fave f1 sections

  9. The Jocken Rindt kurve at the A1 ‘which would have been worthy of a spot on the original Osterreichring’ – I strongly disagree with this one. The Osterreichring featured long, sweeping, mostly fast corners – the new JR kurve looked like someone had simply cut it in half :(

    The A1 Ring didn’t use one single corner of the original circuit (even the ‘chicane’ after the Bosch was recreated on a much tighter scale). Personally, scenery aside, I detest the A1 Ring.

    That said, I can’t disagree with many of your other choices, and for the record I think (with some caveats) that Malaysia, China, Turkey and to a lesser extent the changes made to Hungary are good examples of what Tilke can achieve. That’s not a great compliment though when you see just how many circuits he’s either designed or modified though.

    It also annoys me slightly when people refer back to teh FIA regs and say it’s not Tilke. Fair play, he does have his hands tied somewhat, but look at what Populous did with Silverstone! I actually think that Tilke – although let’s see what happens with Austin – has pretty much run out of ideas…

    One last thing! The 100R isn’t even really Tilke’s creation – it was there before and is the only corner left at Fuji that bears any relation to the pre-Tilke’d circuit…

    Rant over. :)

    1. i pretty much agree with what your saying, populous have done a great job at silverstone, but they did take about 3 years to finalize it (correct me if i’m wrong). i’d like to see them design a whole track or ten then we could do a fair populous-tilke debate.

      1. I’m pretty sure they have designed whole tracks from scratch. The finalisation time with Silverstone was due to the uncertainty of an F1 race being there and the motoGP regs which are quite different to F1, especially since the bike crash at Suzuka.

        1. … they did design full circuits, even is some were not built due to the credit crunch.

    2. 100R was reprofiled slightly in the modifications, but I can see where you’re coming from.

  10. Are you kidding me? How does that last corner on the korean track seem even remotely good.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      25th August 2010, 3:44

      It’s not so much the last corner as it is the last three: left kink, long right-hander, left kink. The reason why it looks good is because the corner immediately before this section is quite slow, so the cars will be accelerating through the entire section and the drivers will have to fight inertia through the first half of the right-hander and then give into it in the second half to be on the racing line.

  11. That middle section looks like it will ruin the Korea race. It’ll space the cars out far too much and hurt any faster cars trying to get past.

    I liked Fuji too. Certainly the racing was better than the return to Suzuka, though there’s partly the weather to thank for that. The last part was indeed a joke but I liked a lot of the rest of it.

    My favourite Tilke corner? The downhill double-left at Bahrain. I also like Turns 1 and 2 at Malaysia and China, shame they’re so similar though.

    1. Turns 1 and 2 at Malaysia? If I remember right Martin Brundle once said it was a “crime” to force F1 cars to go that slowly round corners.

      That said I do really like Sepang. It’s my favorite of Tilke’s tracks.

      1. Prime overtaking spots, especially on Lap 1. A clever idea at the time, as close as we’re going to get to having Tarzan back.

    2. The dry race at Fuji was still more exciting than last year’s Japanese Grand Prix.

    3. fuji 2008 in the dry was still a very good race.

      1. There have been 4 races held at Fuji, and three of them have been brilliant. That’s a pretty good ratio!

        (Although, admittedly, the 1977 race was a tragedy)

    4. I was going to say Turns 1 and 2 at Shanghai too, very unusual corner. Malaysia is good too – the way it drops down the hill is a bit different, and overtaking is definitely possible.

  12. Talladega Knight
    22nd August 2010, 14:25

    Personally, I believe that Istanbul Park is one of Hermann Tilke’s better attempts of designing a circuit. Turn One at Istanbul just looks fantastic when you see F1 cars catching the apex there. Also there is a fantastic camera position at Turn One positioned at the barrier, which gives an incredible view. Turn 8 is one of the best examples of pushing man-and-machine to the absolute limit on the calendar.
    However, I belive one of Tilkes best corners is neither of the two mentioned above; but turns from 11 to 14. I know it’s just a chicane but it creates so much excitement as overtaking is possible, as the outside line to turn 12 then becomes the inside to turn 13, as demonstrated by Button in this year’s Grand Prix at the circuit.

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      22nd August 2010, 15:11

      I think this is a pretty brave attempt by Ned Flanders to pick the best features out of a fairly unpoular set of creations.
      I agree with you Talladega that Istanbul is one his best designs and the kink-then-over-the-hill and down to the right-hander at 12 is pretty damn excellent.
      I’m not sure that Tilke can be given credit for a couple of other feautures listed in Ned’s article, to whit “turn eight’s challenge is enhanced further by its jarring bumps” and Fuji’s “incredible setting at the foot of Mount Fuji”.
      Picking the best corners from the Tilke tracks is always going to be like selecting musical highlights from the Des O’Connor songbook. Brave.

      1. I agree about this being a brave attempt by Ned to show Tilke is not just bad tracks.

        Nice job Ned!

        Ned did not even mention the weather in Fuji and Malaysia making races more interesting :-D

  13. Turkey, Turns 1 and 2:

    “The cars drop downhill into a medium speed left hander followed immediately by a flat out right hander, a sequence of turns reminiscent of the Senna S at Interlagos.”

    …which is precisely why I don’t overly count it as great Hermann Tilke – he’s just nicked a good bit from another track. It’s a good complex but I’m not really crediting Tilke for it.

    Personally I think the list of good Tilke corners is pretty short. Turn 8 genuinely is a great turn. The “cascade” of turns at Bahrain is genuinely good. The fast flick at Malaysia is genuinely good. And there’s a few corners that also not great corners but produce good racing opportunities (last couple at Turkey, parabolika-to-hairpin at Hockenheim). And that’s about it, really, for me.

    Having said that, actually I liked the A1-Ring and think it should host Grands Prix again. What I specifically like about it (and perhaps fellow regulars are getting bored of my drum-banging on this) is that they layout is fairly simple and doesn’t have billions of corners on it. If Tilke could do that simple type of design for A1 Ring I don’t know why we can’t get that again instead of these exceptionally overdesigned layouts we get now.

    It’s a good, interesting article though, nice read.

    1. Your probably not going to be a fan of Tavo’s Austing GP track with it’s range of corners inspired by famous corners (rumours say some Silverstone, Spa, Monza and Turkey corners) ;-)

      1. If done right it could be great, it just wouldn’t automatically be attributable to Tilke’s powers of design.

        What I do remember is an interview article with Tilke in F1 Racing where he designed a fantasy track using the best corners in the world.

        He said what was difficult about it was not so much designing the profile of all the corners but making sure the condition were the same for entry into them. For example if you’re heading into a new track replica of Copse corner or Eau Rouge you had to be doing approximately the same speed as what you would be doing in the real one. If it was a bit different the whole characteristic and challenge of the corner changed. That was one of the tricky aspects about replicating classic corners, not least of all actually building them if they had massive changes in elevation etc.

        1. Yes, you make good points. I agree that it would be interesting to have new circuits not go for the “most corners per meter of track” record, it tends to lead to those simple angles “point-and-squirt” ones we got so many of. Or is that just because Tilke likes using them as filler material?

          I like being inspired by existing corners, but Robert, you mention a good reason not to just copy them: it isn’t just the corner, it is the track leading up to it, and out of it, ie. the placement within the circuit that makes it good.

          So, to repeat, please no copying, just inspriration for Austin.

          1. inspiration, that is :)

          2. Magny-Course was made by copy/paste method as a selection of great corners from the tracks all over the world. We all know how well that went…

            Rules are constricting and also the track owners – if I recall correctly Tilke had fully open hands in one case only – Turkey and that is his best track by far. For example, in China he was given a swamp and the Chinese organizers wanted to have a track which shaped like a Chinese symbol for progress and they wanted to have longest straight on the calendar. You try to make a good track layout with that list of requirements, bad terrain and restricting rules…

  14. Surely the FIA should have several designers producing circuits in order to create diversity in designs

    1. Agree, get an handfull designers and let them make a change to a circuit/corner.
      Then publish it on the F1-site (without name of designer to keep it exciting), let fans vote.
      Winnig design is implemented

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        23rd August 2010, 0:43

        Fan votes?

        Oh, God no.

        Put it this way: the ten teams and the FIA can barely agree on anything. You want to make things “better” by allowing millions of fans – all of whom want different things – in on the decision-making process?

        Besides, circuit design is something of a black art. No-one is entirely sure what makes for good racing; Tilke’s long-straight-heavy-braking ethos has been around since the Nurburgring and La Sarthe were first conceived. There’s no way to guarantee that the fans would pick the best circuit layout, because the fans aren’t in a position to know what works.

      2. Fan votes end up in the ‘average’ best choice, which never quite captures a single designer’s idiosyncrasies.

        What’s happened with Tilke is the same but at a smaller scale. It’s the choice with least risk.. the boring choice… the ‘sensible’ choice.

    2. you’d think so wouldn’t you…

  15. Great article Ned. Anyone notice how all these corners have numbers instead of names, like on old circuits?

    Personally I would add turns 12,13,14 at Istanbul to the list as well. Agreed they are very slow bends but they allow cars to go side-by-side for an exceptionally long period. Most notable examples being, Button-Hamilton in 2010, Heikki-Rosberg in 2008 and Lewis with so many drivers in his GP2 race in 2006. You never know who will come out in the front on the start-finish straight.

  16. Tilke is a bit of a Marmite for me. Some of his circuits I really like and others I just hate.

    The A1-Ring, Sepang, Istanbul and perhaps even Shanghai, I all really like because they are really challenging circuits for the drivers. Some even produce classic races (particularly Shanghai).

    I hate Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are my least favourites. I didn’t like Bahrain even before the endurance section because it has (to date) never produced a classic race all because of its ‘long-straight-slow-corner’ nature. But Abu Dhabi is the worst… WITHOUT A DOUBT. They had all the space, all the money in the world to produce a great racetrack, and they failed badly. I hate it.

    Valencia isn’t brilliant but Tilke didn’t exactly have a lot of space to play around with, so I can forgive him for that, plus it brings out the best in Kamui Kobayashi ;)

    Singapore, I’ve heard a rumour that they’re considering making changes to it for 2011 to make it faster, but for now, it falls into the same catagory as Valencia.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      23rd August 2010, 0:41

      Yes, there is talk of changing Singapore. They’re looking at extending the back straight so that the cars go around the War Memorial rather than duck down the inside and skirt around the edge. That should add an extra two hundred metres or so to the back straight. They’re also apparently considering a much mor important chang: ironing out the back section and getting rid of that endless sequence of chicanes. Having the cars go under the grandstand was little more than a novelty, anyway, but apparently they’re considering it because Singapore has one of the longest lap times on the calendar. Hopefully they’ll keep Piquet’s Corner and have the cars run flat out to the final double-apex left hander. That should make for some interesting viewing …

      1. Didn’t they tighten some of those left-right chicanes last year, to bring the speeds down further? That helped, not. Sort of exactly the wrong thing to do. The ironing out of that last sector would be good indeed.

        1. Prisoner Monkeys
          25th August 2010, 12:44

          No, they tightened the first corner to force the drivers to brake a little harder and maybe offer an overtaking opportunity.

      2. As I’ve mentioned before, I think skipping out the chicane under the grandstand would improve the circuit but there isn’t enough run off at the final corner for that to happen I imagine. Although I should also point out Singapore isn’t a Tilke designed circuit

  17. For me the problem with the modern Tilke circuits isn’t any given corner, but the sameness of the total product.

    Obviously, this could be an inevitable outcome of design requirements. I’m not assigning blame, I’m pointing out that much of the appeal of the old racing calendar was the uniqueness of the various layouts.

    Today, we are in effect watching the same GP over and over…until we come to a Monaco or a Spa. Variety is, after all, the spice of life.

  18. I have to say the lack of character is what gets me about the Tilke tracks. As someone else mentioned, many of our favorites developed over years and many times out of existing road. That to me is a big part of what gives the tracks their unique character and “feel.” And that’s not to say newer courses cannot have character or that older ones always will. A good example that comes to mind is Barcelona and Sao Paulo. Both built around roughly the same time, yet while Barcelona has always seemed boring and unimaginative to me, Brazil is a thrill to watch and to hop into a game and race on. It’s difficult to capture why a track is loved or hated, but I think it’s a mix of the imperfection, challenges it offers, history and overall scenery. Imagine if Abu-Dhabi was set in the middle of the woods ala the old Hockenheim. Even if it was still as flat, how would you feel about it then? Would it seem still as boring with trees flying by in close quarters? It’s the same way how Monaco, though slow, gives the *impression* of speed because of the scenery around it. F1 should I think study up on the older tracks and start to nail down the mixture of elements that cause people to love them so. Not simply “well, overtaking’s always good, so let’s make sure and always plop some slow corners at the end of a long straight.”

    Sorry, I got on a bit of a ramble and really meandered a bout there. But my mind was going and I didn’t want to stop it X)

    1. That’s a fair point. The old Hockenheim was hardly interesting in terms of circuit design. In fact, I’d go as far as saying many of the new Tilkedromes have better layouts than many old circuits that people remember fondly.

      But it’s impossible to simply give a circuit the kind of character that places like Hockenheim had. Perhaps over time we will love to love them, or at least appreciate them a bit more

  19. The last video sums it up for me really. When Silverstone revamped the track, they put up a video of a car driving round the redesigned track – it just happened to go past the new pit/paddock complex. If you were to put up a video to inform people what Spa is about, it would be a F1 car screaming through the Ardennes, not the pits. It just gives the impression that Tilke, the organisers or both see the track itself as secondary. The first half of the video is all about the architechture.

    And a part of me wonders if we all wouldn’t be so anti-Tilke if he just wasn’t given every job on a plate. Get someone else in, to keep it fresh. I’d welcome Bernie organising a second US race, and Populous getting the job, and if the track is forgetteble, then its forgettable. But so far we see poor track, and the two main constants that we see are, the FIA regs, and Tilke.

    1. Totally agree. The video promoting the new Korean track have lingering images of the media complex and paddock facilities. They may prove to be ‘enabling material’ for a media exec or PR on-seller, but the speeded up flyby ‘lap’ of the circuit left me cold.

      Ned – a very good run at a subject which is to F1 fans, as biltong is to haute cuisine, but no way am I gonna agree that Korean last corner belongs on the list until I see it.

      I for one would love to see a 5 to 6 car wide long straight with a decent chicane in F1 – Malaysia almost has it going into final corner, but want that funnel and cut back option.

      Tilke ain’t the big bad wolf, he has to work to the restraints put upon him by FIA and circuit owners, but he certainly ain’t no Richard Rodgers either. We need the hills, camber sweeps and hollows to test these drivers and cars. I for one enjoy Malaysia, China and (ducks shoes) Bahrain – but glad going back to the flowing challenge.

      Silverstone looked pretty good this year, but didn’t see the new section of the track injecting big overtaking opportunities. So it’s not just Tilke folks. It’s the aero that stifles action.

      Anyway, again – Ned, grand job! – some good picks sir.

      1. Overtaking I want to see, but I also want to see the cars struggling through fast, challenging corners – a la Silverstone, Suzuka etc.

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      22nd August 2010, 23:35

      The first half of the video is all about the architechture.

      That’s because it’s aimed at the corporate sector first and foremost. The organisers put it together to attract attention from sponsors and the like so that they could get some money to, you know, run the place.

  20. The rules are not the problem. Tilke is.

    If you read the rules carefully and let your imagination run, there are endless possibilities.

    And as mentioned before: Populous did one thing and they did it right.

    Please mr Tilke, just stop it, resign and go fishing!

    1. Oh and on a more positive note: great article and I do agree with most choices offered.

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      22nd August 2010, 23:40

      The rules are not the problem. Tilke is.

      Actually, the rules kind of are the problem. Have you seen the rulebook? It’s very specific about what a designer can and cannot do. If we were to get rid of Tilke and have someone else come in, they’d be forced to play by the same rules. For all their work on Silverstone, Populous didn’t actually do that much – the Wellington Straight already existed.

      You also have to consider that Tilke doesn’t have a say in where he builds the circuit. When a new Grand Prix is arranged, land is set aside for it and those “endless possibilities” are confined to that piece of land. Sometimes, he’ll get a good bit of land, like he did with Sepang or Istanbul. But other times, he’ll get a flat tract of landm as he did with Abu Dhabi or Shanghai, or a piece of land that seeverly limits what he can do, as was the case with Hockenheim.

      1. Yes, I have seen the actual rules and it surprised me how much possibilities there actually are.

        For instance the straight and first corner, yes, there are specific rules, but within those rules the possibilities really are endless. If you have enough imagination.

        So in my view F1 really needs another designer, who will definitely have another view on the rules and how to design a circuit within them.

        Only then can we decide if that’s enough for us, the fans.

        1. Prisoner Monkeys
          23rd August 2010, 12:35

          Yeah, it’s not as simple as drawing a line on a piece of paper and saying “Here’s your circuit; now, let’s go build it”. My father is a civil engineer, my brother a surveyor. Both of them have worked on road-building projects. There’s a hell of a lot that you have to do before you can even consider breaking earth. There’s the topography, the founations, drainage, etc. You don’t just build – you have to plan. And planning is a difficult and time-consuming process. And I’m pretty sure that’s the main reason why Tilke GmbH gets most of Formula 1’s projects. There’s only a handful of circuit design firms in the world (Tilke and Apex Circuit Design are the big ones; Populous does a bit of work, too), but as far as I know, Tilke GmbH is the only one that offers architecture, engineering and construction. Even if you replaced Tilke with someone else, they’d still be bound by the same conditions as Tilke was.

          Besides, it’s cheaper to change the cars than to change the circuits, because the truth of it is that we don’t really know what makes for a good circuit. Why is it that Spa produces better racing than Shanghai, but Istanbul makes for better races than Barcelona? Tilke’s design ethos of long-straight-into-heavy-braking-zone has been a mainstay of circuit design since the days of the Nurburgring and La Sarthe; you’ll find no less than four examples of it on the ‘Ring.

          Changing circuits is a difficult and expensive process. I see no reason why the most boring of Tilke’s circuits cannot produce exceptional racing if the cars are right. You’ll have more success betting on the cars than the circuits.

          1. PM even you cant argue that someone else should be given a chance.

          2. Prisoner Monkeys
            25th August 2010, 12:45

            I’m not arguing that. What I am arguing is that the perception that Tilke is some evil sould-sucking demon is wrong. Circuit design is a black art, and Tilke is probably the best there is at it.

      2. I guess it is part of the nature of these things that circuits tend to get a plot of land that isn’t great for anything else, or there would be a development on it already. Well, in the case of Austin GP it seems that that was prevented by the credit crunch stoppinresting alternative to get some money for the land.
        But in general, circuits are in left-over pieces of land – unless they use a former airbase, or an old testing track for a manufacturer.

        The Zandvoort circuit here in the Netherlands is in the dunes – built before we made them a nature reserve, and soil not good enough to build houses on. Valencia was a bit of a derelict part of the harbour district, if I remember correctly. It just happens that way.

  21. Onboard lap of Korean GP from F1 2010 shows kind of what it’ll look like…

    1. Nice find!

      the Pit entry looks brilliantly fast, but Ill reserve judgement on the rest until sfter race day.

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      22nd August 2010, 23:50

      Doesn’t look too bad. Sure, it’s twisty and turny, but the top half looks like a bit of a roller-coaster and I love the street circuit feel. It also very much looks like it’s one big arena; there’s maybe one point around the circuit – turn four – that is open and you can see the backdrop. The half-finished look is also pretty good, too.

    3. doesn’t look like too bad a track from the video, but then again I was horribly impaired by the shocking driving. e.g. the final sequence of corners look very fast but difficult according to that driver, but maybe it’ll be easy-flat like Eau Rouge is (while still not being flat-out for bad simulator drivers).

  22. The sri lankan
    22nd August 2010, 23:49

    Keith on fuji circuit “the new circuit went down like a lead balloon; Keith labelled it the worst in F1.”

    Keith this is your Opinion. no one really cares. i have noted your blind hate towards everything Toyota. ill take this with a grain of salt too.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      22nd August 2010, 23:54

      I don’t think Keith hated it because it’s Toyota. I think he hated it because:

      a) It corrupted the legendary Fuji circuit
      b) The back half was filled with excruciatingly tight turns that were equally painful and pointless
      c) The whole thing looked like it was in the middle of a car park
      d) It never produced a good race

      1. I kind of agree to your point B but disagree with all others.

        a) The old Fuji was too dangerous and cannot be raced on in these safety concerned times. Why don’t we hate Spa, Silverstone, Nurburgring and all other circuits that aren’t the same as they used to be?

        c) Actually the scenery was one of the best things about Fuji, what with that little known mountain in the background ;). Not once did I think it was in the middle of a carpark.

        d)I thought both races there were pretty decent to say the very least.

        In summary, I don’t agree with Keith’s opinion that it’s the worst of Tilke’s circuits and if it’s because of the reasons you’ve mentioned then even more so.

        1. Prisoner Monkeys
          23rd August 2010, 12:43

          a) Dangerous, yes. But also awesome. Suzuka shouldn’t have lost the Grand Prix and Fuji should never have been touched.

          c) I’m not talking about the backdrop. When you could see it – and you often couldn’t because of the torrential rain – Mount Fuji was awesome. But I’m talking about the acres of tarmac run-off that line the circuit on all sides.

          1. a)I agree that Suzuka is better. But if Fuji wouldn’t have been touched then no racing there would be possible at all so it’s the lesser evil IMO.

            c)And which new circuit doesn’t have those asphalt run-offs nowadays? The Arena section in Silverstone is full of them on all sides. Abu Dhabi feels a lot more like carpark to me, espesially with that underground pit exit :)

          2. Prisoner Monkeys
            23rd August 2010, 13:40

            Tarmac run-off they might have, but there’s probably more tarmac in the run-off than the actual circuit at Fuji.

        2. The sri lankan
          24th August 2010, 4:15

          Alex….yes the Old Fuji is dangerous, but nowhere near as dangerous as suzuka now-days. dont get me wrong even if i dislike Honda i love suzuka as a circuit. but its unfair to call it safe and the old Fuji unsafe. some sections of suzuka like the Dunlop, Degner 130R etc…its almost tight like Monaco at some sections except with higher speeds

          1. In Suzuka there’s lots of run-off nowadays, even at 130R which btw is but a shadow of the great corner it once was. At Dunlop there’s a big gravel trap and a very wide tyre-wall which was already in place in the mid-nineties. Same at Degner curves. Honestly I don’t know where it’s so tight so as to be compared with Monaco. Only the version with no Casio triangle was dangerous for cars. For bikes it’s dangerous yes

    2. Actually this piece was written by Ned Flanders, who in turn quoted Keith.

      And I think I can safely vouch for Keith – he does not hate Toyota or any other team/manufacturer.

      1. Agree with PM on the last section of the circuit is like the pain.

    3. I think you misread that, it is: Ned on fuji circuit “the new circuit went down like a lead balloon; Keith labelled it the worst in F1”. And Keith is well known on this site as being the one who mostly writes it, and usually has an interesting opinion. Of course, at the time, we hadn’t seen Singapore, Valencia, or Abu Dhabi, so maybe now his opinion has changed.

      I found the circuit rather boring too – even more so due to the spectacular mount Fuji in the background, to be honest. And Toyota has managed to inconsistently disappoint me severely during their time in F1, with occasional glimpses of brilliance usually squandered quickly.

  23. I do feel that Tilke gets a lot of criticism not all of which is deserved. He has done some good tracks and the worst tracks are normally in places that are very flat and that makes it harder for an interesting track. The problem I have is that just one guy is designing the tracks meaning I’m not sure if it’s his fault or the rules.

    I would like to see someone else in charge of making an F1 circuit than one person having a monopoly on circuit design.

  24. i believe lewis hamilton made an super circuit, why not start from that..

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      23rd August 2010, 2:18

      Because it was just cutting and pasting corners from other circuits. There wasn’t a single original idea in it.

  25. What can I say. In Texas they talk with a revolver under the table. He cannot mess up in Texas or they will make a rug out of him.

  26. Prisoner Monkeys
    23rd August 2010, 2:32

    Watching the video of the Korean circuit in F1 2010 again, I have to say that it could be quite promising. It clearly looks like it’s been designed so that certain cars will favour certain sections – or, alternately, teams will be forced to compromise their setups to be a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.

  27. I have to say that racing better at some traditional circuits than Tilkedromes. Yes he have constructed some great track (Malaysia,Turkey) but I still think that he could have done something better then the job he is doing.

    Bahrain & Turkey were unique but other than that I find all other circuits that were made by him were similar to one way to the other like Malaysia.

    Another thing is that the FIA should change the the rules for circuit design, OK you got to give safety priority but don’t make boring racing circuit like the one in Dubai. It may have produced some good racing in 2009 but over a lap it is boring.

    1. The last section of the circuit runs with some buildings around it, some lucky f1 fans will have their apartment there.

  28. The presentation shows one of the problems with new circuits (and by default Tilke circuits). There was a heavy emphasis on the buildings surrounding the track. These emerging countries are building such racetracks to prove how well developed they are, so they better make sure that everyone in F1 is kept comfortable in air conditioned buildings. They can’t have people thinking that they are definitely in a steamy Korean summer, that would leave a bad impression. The emphasis is on how good the facilities are, not on how boring the track is.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      23rd August 2010, 8:29

      As I said on the last page – it’s a corporate video. The organisers were attempting to use it to lure commercial partners for the race and the circuit. It’s not actually meant for us, but it seems to have been leaked onto the internet and they didn’t both making up another one since we already now what the circuit will be like.

  29. Nice write up, Ned. For me the problem with Tilke is not any one particular track, per se – it’s the lack of variety, both in terms of the type (and I use the singular intentionally) of circuit he designs and by the very fact that he is the only designer brought in to lay out new venues. He is constrained by set limitations, but certainly another vision, or preferably visions, of what a track may look like within the same limitations would inject some life into F1 circuit design. I don’t think others would automatically come up with better things than Tilke, just different. The way things stand, the modern tracks are all just variations on one theme: a circuit that has a bit of everything. This has been discussed before, but seems to me that the Tilke part of the calendar would greatly benefit from less compromise, that is, from less variety at each track in exchange for more variety among the tracks – tracks that put a particular emphasis on particular aspects of car performance or driver ability.

  30. Yeah, he’s had some good corners, but look at the tracks he hasn’t made, They blow him away, not only that, but older tracks aren’t just about one corner, the whole track is important. I think this could be a problem of Tilke’s tracks.

    Istanbul’s Turn 8 doesn’t make up for Shanghai does it?

    Monaco held it’s first race in 1929, Tilke’s tracks aren’t 81 years better.

    1. Why couldn’t he build a tunnel, But like an aquarium have very strong very VERY thick see through material where spectators can watch from above?

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        23rd August 2010, 12:46

        ook at the tracks he hasn’t made, They blow him away


        Why couldn’t he build a tunnel, But like an aquarium have very strong very VERY thick see through material where spectators can watch from above?
        Because it would be dangerous. What do you think would happen if there was an accident in the tunnel? There would be no way for the marshalls to access the crash immediately.

        1. Barcelona is one boring circuit, How many has Tilke built now?

          Anyway… Barcelona is not too bad in Tilke terms, I’d take it over Valencia any day. at least it’s green.

          Actually the bit about the aquarium tunnel was sarcasm… I was trying to say he should be more original rather than building all his tracks from the same formula.

          Manu: Your right, that idea is in a game….. so it’s not really original anyway :/

      2. Maybe because Formula One is not a video game? :d

  31. Great article Ned.

  32. Another F1 2010 video offering a better view of the Korean track:

    It doesn’t look that bad, but nothing special either.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      24th August 2010, 15:27

      I don’t know … there’s clearly some kind of banking in that first corner. And maybe it’s just the driver, but the section across the top of the circuit is looking pretty wild. And, of course, there’s the labyrinthe last few bends that look like they’re quite difficult to memorise at speed.

  33. Nicely done Ned; with all the Tilke-hating we constantly read (and not just here) it’s difficult to appreciate WHY he continues to get these contracts.

    1. The guy is a contractor as well as a circuit designer. He not only designs the circuits but agrees to get them built on time and within budget. He must be successful on those scores as he keeps getting new work.
    2. He also is an architect. As much as we focus on the track and the relative merits of each circuit he designs, creating a new track from nothing is a massive architectural-engineering feat. Just the infrastructure design alone can be a daunting task. So I have to believe his team of subconsultants are all well versed in their particular specialties. His buildings and support structures are unquestionably well done.

    And yes, I’m an architect, so I know a wee bit of what I speak of. Not much, but a bit :)

  34. got to be turn 8 turkey

  35. haha i didnt knew A1 was a tilke creation. i always thought sepang was tilke first. no wonder i struggle quite a lot in A1 when i play the old F1 game last time (1999 i think) especially the 1st 2nd corner i tend 2 go so wide easily. lolz. good old days man. s 4 after sepang launching, yeah, tilke other tracks is boring since then. i cant remember any other exciting races in tilke track better than sepang 2002. so sepang 2002 still stands s the best race ever in a tilke track.

  36. Hermann Tilke is the one responsable for the most boring Formula’s 1 circuit. My personal view is if Tilke design circuit where not involved, Formula 1 will be much more interesting, overtaken and more. You can appreciatte the diference on circuit like SPA or Monza.

  37. After playing F1 2010 at Yeongam yesterday, I think the undulating left- right S bend (turns 7- 8) would be deserving of a place on the list. It’s an excellent corner to drive

    1. Haha my 8 turned into a smiley!!

  38. Turn 8 of Turkey is the best Tilke corner ever.

    There isn’t even any debate.

    It should fill all 10 spots on the list.

  39. i have put all but two of these corners (Plus some of my own and some others of other f1 tracks to make a Tilke super track but i want to now how to put it on here? anyone no how?

    1. Nice idea… try or if you have Twitter. Then perhaps put the link on the round up or on the Forum so everyone gets a chance to see it :)

  40. i have put all but two of these corners (Plus some of my own and some others of other f1 tracks) to make a Tilke super track but i want to now how to put it on here? anyone no how?

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