New photos show Kuwait’s F1-spec circuit taking shape

2017 F1 season

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New photographs of the Formula One-specification Kuwait Motor Town circuit show the progress being made on the development.

Kuwait Motor Town is taking shape
The FIA grade one specification track is designed by Hermann Tilke. It is being built by KCC Engineering and Contracting Company at a reported cost of £120 million ($162m). It does not have a contract in place to hold a round of the world championship, but grade one status would allow F1 cars to race at the venue.

The anti-clockwise circuit measures 5.609 kilometres and features 20 corners. The pit lane exit joins the track after the fast turn one kink which leads onto the longest straight. Notable features include the four-part sequence of corners from turns 12 to 15, which recalls Tilke’s celebrated design for turn eight at Istanbul Park.

The track is being built 40 kilometres south of Kuwait City, the capital of the Middle Eastern country which has a population of four million.

The full development is also designed to accommodate motorbike racing including Moto GP. It will also include karting, motocross, rallycross, supercross and all-terrain vehicle circuits.

Tilke says the venue will satisfy the needs of “professional race drivers, families seeking for leisure activities [and] club members desiring premium level services.”

Formula One Management is intent on expanding the roster of grands prix beyond the record 21 on the 2018 F1 calendar. There are little more than a dozen grade one facilities ready to hold new races at short notice although one of these, Paul Ricard, has been added to the next year’s schedule.

Kuwait Motor Town track map

Kuwait Motor Town track map

Kuwait Motor Town location

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Main image source: 248am

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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72 comments on “New photos show Kuwait’s F1-spec circuit taking shape”

  1. Mega!

    Do we know of any elevation changes?

    1. depends on how the wind shapes the dunes around the track

    2. Well, they’re calling turns 3-4 the “corkscrew”, so hopefully there’s some elevation change there, at least :-) Also, there’s a circuit variant that splits the start/finish straight and the long run up to turn 2 into two sections, which may or may not come into play.

  2. Why we love Herman. Give him a blank canvas of virgin desert and you get a circuit just like Bahrain. Nice one. I see he hasn’t bothered planning any car parking, but there is a runway alongside for private Gulfstream jets. You can plainly see the demographic this place is aimed at.

    1. That’s a bit harsh isn’t it? I mean obviously car parking has been planned for. It has to be as part of any feasibility study before construction can begin but this is just the progress so far. They are more focused on building the race track before the car park since it’s going to need a track in order to get people to come and need a place to park.
      As for the landing strip already being built, it is probably to fly construction materials in…i don’t think it’s F1 or Herman trying to put F1 fans down or somehow trying to tell us that we are not as important.

      1. Civil construction materials do not get flown anywhere. If there not local, they’d come in on a ship, and then trucked to site.

      2. @eoin16 @elkali @lotus49 As a Kuwaiti citizen, I can tell you that a parking garage is going to get built, the largest parking garage in Kuwait infact. As for the landing strip, its actually a drag strip. Kuwait might be rich but all the money goes to the government and the 1%, we get nothing. Hell, I drive a 2007 Honda.

    2. Well, this is Kuwait after all. Not sure what kind of demographics you do expect there… I don’t see the Filipino / Syrian houseworkers there going for a F1 race

    3. You say this like this is Hermann’s decision. It’ll be up to the client!

    4. @lotus49 I’m sorry but if you think it’s the same as Bahrain you need your eyes checked. In several key areas such as the shape of the corners and the general flow it’s a big improvement on Bahrain(which isn’t even close to being the worst Tilkedrome anyway).

      I’m as harsh a critic of tilke as you’ll ever see but facts are facts. At least on paper this isn’t a bad track design at all.

    5. I believe that’s a drag strip, not a runway.

    6. @lotus49, as has been pointed out by others, that “runway” is in fact a drag strip, which is being constructed as part of the associated motorsport facilities around the circuit (such as the karting centre). Furthermore, if you look at the location of the circuit, it’s not that much of a “blank canvas of virgin desert” given that the site is actually hemmed in by a range of industrial facilities.

  3. Wow uh – not much around there!

    1. That statement could be used to describe Kuwait in general! I spent a lot of time there as my wife was based there when we were in the gulf, struggling to think of anything good to say about it. Oh, the breakfast at the earlybird in Jabriya is pretty good.

      Also, Kuwait International Airport is officially my least favourite place on earth. God help anyone travelling through it if they ever host an F1 race! My record for trying to get through customs is 14 hours…

      1. @geemac as a Kuwaiti, I understand your pain… Kuwait has everything! But the government shut everything down for renovation, but that never happened, its like they are urging people to stay out of it. Although, they are building a huge terminal and they will not be hosting any international race before that opens. Check it out, “Kuwait Airport Terminal 4”

  4. That looks so much better than Abu Dhabi, it makes me want to cry.

  5. I-spy another Turkey turn-8 rip-off

  6. The layout looks like Barcelona.
    Drivers will be going around thinking ‘deja vu’.

    1. That was my first thought, but note that it is an anti-clockwise circuit though.

    2. @linkinruss I don’t really see any similarities between this and the Circuit de Catalunya.

    3. I too thought at first that it looked a bit like Barcelona @linkinruss. But then noticed that it is at least to be run anti-clockwise.

  7. Not keen on Sochi-style ‘first corner kink then ridiculously long straight’, but the rest looks interesting enough for a ‘new build’ circuit.

    Not going to be falling over myself to beg F1 to hold a race there, but I won’t cry too much if they do.

  8. I scoffed at this circuit at first sight. Sure looked like a tilke drome and it turned out to be one. But when i followed it through with my eyes, i have to admit, I actually found it pleasing. The track sure has a lot of nice elements to it. I see turkey turn 8, monza first chicane, little bit of the china snail, and a nice looking set of esses, that last turn though is a beast! I bet they won’t let the F1 cars run the full length of the back straight.

    1. @david-beau Surely you mean the first turn is a beast? Circuit runs anti-clockwise.

  9. This reminds of Motorland Aragon, not in terms of its layout but in that it seems like one of Tilke’s better efforts yet it doesn’t have an F1 race…

  10. Oh no, not him again..

  11. Something wrong.. I see Oopart pics of moon or mars surface..

  12. That actually looks like a nice circuit. They certainly won’t be hanging around there’s some seriously fast corners.

  13. Lewisham Milton
    7th December 2017, 12:48

    20 turns, 2 or 3 looooong-DRS-zzzz straights.
    Tilke’s got way too much Scalextric. Someone take half of his track away from him, please.
    And what’s a Motor Town?

    1. it is town built only with broken Honda engines, there is still plenty of material left for a couple more

  14. Few kilometers of pit strait, and then a bunch of pointless squiggly lines, and then back to the pit strait.
    How original.

    1. You are just describing any circuit there

    2. That’s how all race tracks work. You pass the pit straight, go around those “pointless squiggly lines” (otherwise known as corners) and then come back to the pit straight. It may not be original but to make a lap you have to come back to the same starting point. If you want to to see cars start at one point and finish at a different point try watching rallying but there are LOTS of pointless squiggly lines there too so maybe drag racing is going to be more your style since you start in one place, finish in a different place and there are no pointless squiggly lines to bother you.

    3. Vast importance of what the middle bits are. in this, they look fast and flowing which is the most you can ask for. What else do you suggest Biggsy? A track without a straight? A track without corners? Goodness sake

  15. I quite like it, Looks fast & rather flowing with some corners & sequences that look like they will be a fun challenge for car & driver.

    1. @stefmeister totally agree. With this generation of cars, this track looks like it could be a lot of fun.

  16. It looks ok, but really what is the point?

    1. Driving round in circles, I think ?

      1. Driving around NOT in just circles, but including the aforementioned squiggly bits.

        I can only read ‘squiggly bits’ in the Jeremy Clarkson voice in my head.

  17. That doesn’t actually look too bad.

  18. The circuit looks interesting, but unfortunately, I doubt it won’t really get a chance to join F1 due to Bahrain’s alleged right to veto any potential new Middle-Eastern additions from entering the sport. Yes, they didn’t use it to prevent Abu Dhabi (UAE) from joining, but I doubt they’d allow any more venues from that part of the world to enter. If this circuit ever were to join F1, then it would have to take place close to either one of the current Middle-Eastern venues on the race calendar as it like the current ones is too hot from May till September for basically any outdoor activity, so, therefore, only either March, April, or November could/would work temperature-wise.

  19. I would swap it for sochi and yas marina

    1. @siegfreyco In a heartbeat.

  20. It is possible that F1 cars will look sexy there, let us wait and see. However, I fear that racing at this track is going to be unbearable in the DRS era. It seems to me that from an overtaking point of view the circuit consists of two parts: 1) Corners 2) “Resistance is futile”.

  21. Yay, another desert track by Tilke, bestill my heart…. not. I guess if anything, this guy sure knows how to make a sales pitch to people with too much money and not enough sense of racing to know better. Getting away from Tilke tracks and opening up the possibilities to what a track can be is one change Liberty can’t make soon enough. I’m not saying he’s never designed a good corner, but let’s get some real genuine variety out there.

  22. That’s a good track layout. Not a single chicane or hairpin. The sequence after turn 7 until turn 18 may actually be entirely flat out. But I fear that enforcing track limits would be difficult. The exits of turn 11, turn 15 and turn 17 are prime candidates IMO.

  23. The track looks really great – it’d look even better if it were in Europe or South America where F1 fans tend to be. I love the idea of promoting F1 outside of the traditional areas to attract new audiences, but when I hear of tracks in places like this this and Bahrain, I can’t help but think of fat envelopes being pushed across tables by billionaires rather than fan-focused decisions designed for the good of the sport.

    But this is a modern world and most watch on TV (or some sort of screen!) – so geography isn’t really an issue, if this produces great races then I’m all for it.

  24. Literally only one possible overtaking spot as I can see it, and that’s into turn 2. Of course, that’s with DRS too. Second DRS straight may lead into turn 20 which may also see some overtaking. From turn 2 to 19 however, it’s a Trulli train.

    I hope F1 does not come here. It might be suitable for testing, but I doubt it’s a venue for great racing.

  25. The layout is actually quite interesting. Better than half the calendar we have right now. Some fast corners, some technical ones, corners 3-4 and 8-11 have some potential. Not conviced by the uninspired “Turn 8” copy though, it has already been done once at COTA.
    However holding a race in the middle of the desert without fans isn’t what F1 used to be about, I’d rather have Imola or Portugal than this.

  26. Wouldn’t mind at all if they skipped turns 16-19 and went into that hairpin straight after definitely-not-turn-8

  27. Very good track layout. Positively suprised regardless of whether it will ever host F1. But I hope it will. The layout is much better than Tilkedromes like Abu Dhabi, Sochi, Mexico and better than Bahrain, Baku and Shanghai too. Not to mention better than the Tilkefied Hockenheimring and the lifeless Paul Ricard. Of the Tilkedromes this would only be second to Circuit of the Americas and Istanbul(if it ever comes back)

  28. This actually looks pretty good. Turn one looks insanely fast. A gravel trap on the outside there would be perfect, help separate the brave from the foolish.

  29. Part Catalunya, part Bahrain, all meh.

    May well produce decent racing as Bahrain generally does, but doesn’t exactly stir the racing soul.

  30. They are building a track with classification license fia 1/ fim a in Finland. It is already contracted to hold motogp races in 2019 and i would love to see F1 race there. I dont know if the track layout is any good but it would be nice to have a nordic race venue where it would be almost guaranteed to have a massive amount of audience.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      7th December 2017, 23:51

      A race in Finland would be amazing but they’ve already said it would be too expensive – that’s why they’ve gone for MotoGP whereas we’ll have another race in the middle of a desert.

    2. @alipappa
      That looks an interesting circuit and a refreshing change from the various Tilkedromes…

  31. Unless they have a huge DRS zone I don’t see any overtaking opportunities. The braking zones just don’t seem severe enough and the corners proceeding potential opportunities won’t allow you to follow closely….at least with the current aero regs.

  32. Quite boring. Another track for Mercedes…

  33. Turns 3 and 4 are a bit unnecessary in my view, but otherwise, not bad. Looks like a flowing circuit with some really fast corners for F1, like a desert-Mugello.

    Drivers would definitely enjoy it.

  34. Another generic cricuit in a place no one wants to race. Joy.
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, drop Yaz Marina, Bahrain, Sochi, and Baku. Bring back the Nurburgring, Imola, and Watkins Glen, and add Jerez, Mugello, or Brands Hatch.

  35. I dont feel F1 will be able to generate great racing there if I’m honest… there’s a lot of high speed corners in this thing, and it’s going to restrict running close to the car ahead. It’s got less big stops than Albert Park, another high speed track.

    The regularity of the corners in the infield make this a RIPPER MotoGP track though.

  36. Michael Brown (@)
    7th December 2017, 21:08

    F1: “Not enough chicanes!”

  37. The track should have a huge banked curve from turn 19 to 1. Now that would be interesting.

  38. Decent, though Variant 1 with the Harpin would be best. Though the normal turn 1 is a great test for driver skill, we’d get closer racing being a lower speed corner

  39. The track actually looks good. Which means that either it will never be part of the calendar or stay for a couple of years and then disappear.

  40. Hello all, Kuwaiti guy here! The track is a big deal for Motorsport enthusiasts here since its the first track ever built to accommodate car racing.

    I also hope it has some elevation changes, and I’m also glad to hear that the design is good. It’s being overseen by one of the best project firms in Kuwait. Hopefully we can get a round here if we replace Bahrain or Yas… I honestly think 3 races in the Middle East a bit too much. But if it happens I won’t complain :p

  41. Pedro De Almeida Carvalho
    8th December 2017, 11:18

    The problem with F1 is not the track, but aerodynamics. If the cars could follow eachother any track would be good for racing. F1 needs lesser wings and more underfloor downforce. Maybe make all cars use the same front and rear wing, the rest of the car they are free to change what they want like they do now. if FIA manages to restric downforce from the upper body from the cars, the cars would not be so bad on dirty hair

  42. Since this is being built, as most are, to accommodate other motorsports activities, I would LOVE to be a spectator on “track days”! Lived there for 2 years and saw how some people drove just on the freeways! Going to be some fatalities there! I saw at least one major accident every day.

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