New F1 tracks ‘not as good as the old ones’

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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F1 drivers spoke up for the championship’s heritage circuits ahead of the longest-ever season in 2016 as the calendar expands to accommodate a new race in Azerbaijan.

Speaking in today’s FIA press conference Lewis Hamilton said it was important for F1 to visit new countries and “spread the word” but believes older circuits are usually better.

“For sure it’d be good to keep a balance of the real classic circuits rather than just a bunch of new circuits because the new circuits generally are not as good as the old circuits,” he said.

New tracks tend to “look quite similar”
“They don’t carry the same history or heritage and I think it’s important we keep close to the heritage of Formula One which is those old, historic circuits.”

Although Hamilton said he considered former venues Istanbul, Valencia and Magny-Cours “not particularly spectacular tracks”, Kimi Raikkonen disagreed.

“You maybe didn’t like Magny-Cours, I liked it!” Raikkonen replied. “Quiet, you know, easy. That’s one of the best places to go.”

However Raikkonen echoed Hamilton’s view that older tracks offer more satisfying experiences for the drivers. “There’s always new places that look quite similar, built by or designed by the same guy. I don’t say that they’re not good but they are more… same,” he said. “I enjoy all the traditional circuits.”

“They look a bit more nicer there,” he added, “it’s a more normal feeling than when we come here and everything is just put somewhere in the middle of, in this case, a desert area.”

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    24 comments on “New F1 tracks ‘not as good as the old ones’”

    1. surprise, suprise..

    2. Well, one of the few times we get a full line out of Kimi, he certainly puts out one that is spot on “There’s always new places that look quite similar, built by or designed by the same guy. I don’t say that they’re not good but they are more… same,”

      1. Ditto. It’s all got a bit too predicable.

      2. The whole world is becoming sanitized. Look at practically any product category and there’s a creeping sameness to it all. It might be why an increasing number of people are taking chances with ‘extreme’ activities. Most of us don’t want to live in a refrigerator white world. Although I guess today that’s become a brushed metal world. :-)

    3. I don’t think it’s about heritage, the lay-out of circuit like Spa-Francorchamps, Monza and Suzuka is just so much more inspired and enjoyable than circuits like Abu Dhabi. There’s plenty of space in the UAE, why not build a 10-kilometre high-speed track with 2km straights and a handful of corners, like the old Tripoli GP track? It’s completely different to all other F1 tracks so it will surely mix things.

      All modern tracks are so similar, which means that teams that are good at one track will also be good on all other tracks. If you get more variety in track, surely there will be more variety in performance, right?

      1. @andae23
        I don’t think that such a track would get the necessary FIA-certificate. The FIA would criticise it for being unsafe and too fast. It’s no coincidence that tracks like the old Hockenheimring, Monza or Le Castellet aren’t built any more.
        Even if an architect would come along with a revolutionary track-design, it doesn’t mean it will get realized. It depends too much on the FIA. If they say it’s not “safe” enough for their standards, it won’t get their certificate and therefore no races can be held.

        1. @srga91 But if you have the budget (like UAE has) and space (like UAE has), you can make run-off areas that would suit the FIA’s demands, right?

          1. There’s still a 7 km limit on new circuits I believe.

            1. There is no track length limit. The FIA states that circuits should not exceed 7 km- they say that because any longer than that would be (they feel) unreasonably difficult to manage. “Should” is a different word than “must”.

    4. I propose an alternate headline for this article:

      “F1 drivers state the bleeding obvious ahead of Abu Dhabi GP”.

      1. +1000

        They have had to speak to the press over 19 races and now cannot wait for the season to finish they are on autopilot when speaking to the press.

    5. Here is my hilariously bad photoshop attempt at giving Abu Dhabi a quick redesign.

      1. @philereid
        It’s not hilariously bad, it’s rather good! It’s so much better than the current layout, also with better overtaking possibilities. Though I would put corner 5 (your new hairpin) a few meters back inward to make it faster with more runoff, and the S-corner after first the straight a bit faster. I also would add some more runoff at the end of the second straight, but that does not change the caracteristics of your new corner.

      2. I think it looks good too.

    6. F1 obviously cannot stay the same if the world changes all the time. It is great that circuits now have much better safety standards, it is good that F1 goes to new places and it is also good that the new venues have modern facilities. Also, “heritage” does not guarantee good racing and at least some of the new tracks have already delivered a couple of thrillers.

      The biggest issue with the new circuits is their lack of diversity that Raikkonen mentions. It seems to me that even the PR guys, who write race preview quotes, run out of ideas how to describe them as they are all the same. Daniil Kvyat recently said that he would describe Sochi as “a classic modern style track” and Williams team claimed that Abu Dhabi’s “long straights and open nature of the circuit promote entertaining racing”, which is either a very clever way of making fun of Tilke or just nonsense.

      I think that “balance” is the keyword here. I enjoy watching most of the new Grands Prix but F1 should not keep abandoning the old venues and replace them with more Yas Marina Circuits.

    7. I agree with Lewis regarding Valencia but to say that Istanbul wasn’t that spectacular i disagree with as it is one of (If not) the best of the more modern circuits.

      Just a shame its been turned into a car park & i believe is only used for the world rallycross nowadays which only runs the final few corners & through a part of the paddock.

      1. They are selling cars I think. Not a car park. But in any case, it was rather good. Considering that COTA was not designed by Tilke, Istanbul Park was probably the best Tilke designed track.

    8. F1 needs much more diversity in the circuits. I don’t think that the variety in circuits should be as broad as say IndyCar’s calendar, which races on road courses, street courses, short ovals and big ovals all with different characteristics, but I feel that we need a much bigger range of tracks than a few circuits that are unique but the rest of the calendar bulked out by the standard ‘Tilkedrome’.

      If you have a calendar that is more diverse, then the chances are that unless a team comes along and builds a car so strong that it performs at every single type of circuit, the results will likely be somewhat different every race. I want to go into a weekend not knowing that Mercedes will win it in normal conditions, an educated guess based on the circuit characteristics – sure, but not because it’s the same type of track week in, week out. Because as it currently stands, if you have a car capable of winning on a typical Tilkedrome, the chances are that you will have a really good shout at the championship because so many circuits feel pretty much identical.

      As for the venues themselves, I really don’t care about which country F1 goes to, but F1 shouldn’t be going to certain countries just for the sake of being there. I’d like to see F1 go to areas where there is a genuine outcry for a major motor racing series to go there, and not to wastelands in countries with virtually no knowledge of motorsport at any level.

      1. all very good points @craig-o. I agree that a wider variation of tracks might help bring a bit more variance to what teams focus on in their cars, making for some change in the form-book and therefore a different grid and maybe race on different tracks.

        And I think Mexico showed the advantages of going somewhere that has fans instead of overdoing it with going to new venues where hardly anyone cares for motorsport (and then not invest a penny into marketing over the next years before moving on).

      2. @craig-o
        I’d love to see F1 racing at an oval, and given the choice I’d take a GP on Indy’s Speedway than at any of the turgid sandbox circuits in the Middle East we have to put up with these days.
        Personally I’d like the FIA to change circuit regulations so that we could have a much greater variety of circuits, with a couple under 2 miles, a couple over 5 miles, an oval or two, and the best of the current circuits.

    9. I have to admit that I’m not exactly a fan of the Tilkedromes, but we saw this year, that even the the classic tracks failed to deliver the exciting races we wanted to see. And where those tracks – like Spa, Monza, Suzuka, Silverstone and a few others that stood against time and many different eras of regulations – fail, how can we expect these new “artificial” tracks to excel? They were designed to support the current formula, but they can’t, but at this moment no track can.
      I really would like to see to get rid of this high aero dependency that spoils racing, and let mechanical grip do its job. I am almost certain that not only the legendary tracks, but also the new ones could produce massive races with the appropriate changes on the cars. It’s too easy to blame certain tracks, and obviously there are tracks that should not be featured on the calendar, but the main problem has nothing to do with them I believe.

      1. +1

        You see other racing series produce exciting races at those tracks.

    10. Any chances that the Indian GP at BIC might come back ???

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