Start, 2013 German Grand Prix, Nurburgring,

Your top 10 F1 tracks of the last 10 seasons

Top ten

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F1 Fanatic readers have scored 190 rounds of the world championship since we began our Rate the Race feature 10 years ago.

Which of the 28 tracks which held those races produced the best races on average? The numbers have been crunched and here’s the verdict – with a few surprises on the way.

10. Sepang International Circuit

Average race rating: 7.05/10
Highest race rating: 8.45/10 (2012 Malaysian Grand Prix)

It’s not on the 2018 F1 calendar but the Sepang International Circuit is one of few new-built, Hermann Tilke-era tracks to gain a place inside the top 10.

The track’s layout usually helped facilitate overtaking and the climate produced unexpected rain storms in races and qualifying sessions which led to several memorable encounters. This was the case for the highest-rated of those, in 2012, when Fernando Alonso took his unfancied Ferrari to victory ahead of a surprise challenger: Sergio Perez in a Sauber.

9. Hungaroring

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2014
The Hungaroring has produced surprisingly good races
Average race rating: 7.09/10
Highest race rating: 9.14/10 (2014 Hungarian Grand Prix)
After it first appeared on the calendar in the mid-eighties the Hungaroring soon developed a reputation for being extremely difficult to overtake on. Despite a few tweaks in the intervening three decades, that hasn’t really changed.

Yet several of its recent races were really rather good. The 2014 round was turned on its head by a Safety Car period which offered a rare chance for the all-conquering Mercedes to be beaten. Twelve months later they suffered another rare defeat in a lively race, which also ranked inside the top five.

8. Shanghai International Circuit

Average race rating: 7.13/10
Highest race rating: 9.24/10 (2011 Chinese Grand Prix)

The 2011 Chinese Grand Prix, which has the second-highest ranking of all, is an interesting case. This was F1’s second race with high-degradation tyres and the Drag Reduction System. It saw a huge number of pit stops and many passes. Although many fans clearly enjoyed it, later scores suggest the novelty value of races like this has worn off for some.

But for a modern venue Shanghai has had several memorable events. Particularly when helped by a few drops of rain, as in 2009 and 2010.

7. Albert Park

Average race rating: 7.21/10
Highest race rating: 8.64/10 (2010 Australian Grand Prix)

Start, Melbourne, 2010
The drama started early at Melbourne in 2010
Do fans tend to rate Australia’s round of the championship higher than average because it’s usually the first race of the year? Perhaps, but this track’s highest-rated race came on the single occasion in the last 10 years when it did not hold the season opener.

6. Interlagos

Average race rating: 7.22/10
Highest race rating: 9.45/10 (2012 Brazilian Grand Prix)

It’s a surprise to see the track which has the single highest-rated race only sixth on average. Particularly as Interlagos also held the unforgettable 2008 race plus another down-to-the-wire title-decider in 2007.

The drop in ratings appears to have coincided with the resurfacing of the track which smoothed out the once-bumpy venue. However the local weather can be relied upon to inject some drama, as memorably happened in 2016.

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5. Silverstone

Start, Silverstone,. 2008
Dependably good racing at Silverstone, despite the weather
Average race rating: 7.24/10
Highest race rating: 8.16/10 (2008 British Grand Prix)

Seven of Silverstone’s 10 races since 2008 have been rated at least seven out of ten, making this one of the most dependably entertaining venues. Passing is tricky but possible around its high-speed turns and a successful move usually involves a deal of bravery, even in the DRS era.

4. Spa-Francorchamps

Average race rating: 7.30/10
Highest race rating: 8.37/10 (2010 Belgian Grand Prix)

Spa’s race ratings compare very closely to Silverstone’s. That probably shouldn’t come as too great a surprise as the venues are similar in many ways, though Spa offers higher speeds and a much more picturesque setting than the Northamptonshire airfield. It is also the highest-rated track which has held a race in all of the last 10 seasons.

3. Circuit of the Americas

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2015
Modern classic? COTA is tricky
Average race rating: 7.40/10
Highest race rating: 9.10/10 (2015 United States Grand Prix)

Since its debut on the calendar in 2012 the Circuit of the Americas has carved out a reputation as being the best of the modern iteration of tracks. As this year’s race showed, track limit concerns remain a bugbear, but the same is true of most new circuits.

The layout blends both a worthy driving challenge – few other tracks have a sequence of bends to rival COTA’s opening sector – and good opportunities for overtaking. The 2015 race also arguably demonstrated the benefits of keeping pre-race practice to a minimum. Rain limited running on Friday and Saturday, and the resulting race was a cracker. Food for thought?

2. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Sebastien Buemi, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Montreal, 2010
Buemi briefly led an action-packed race in 2010
Average race rating: 7.66/10
Highest race rating: 9.19/10 (2014 Canadian Grand Prix)

The 2010 race at Montreal inspired one of the most contentious F1 changes of recent seasons. Trouble with Bridgestone’s tyres forced teams to adopt more aggressive strategies which produced a hectic race. That prompted the idea to have new tyre manufacturer Pirelli produce similar tyres which degraded quickly for future seasons.

However that 2010 race has since been outscored twice. In 2011 a crazy, rain-hit race saw Jenson Button win despite falling to last at once stage. Then three years later the drama of Mercedes’ first defeat in the V6 hybrid turbo era produced a race which was rated even higher. The race ended in a nail-biter as Daniel Ricciardo forced his way past Nico Rosberg to score his first ever win, and Sergio Perez and Felipe Massa crashed shortly before the chequered flag.

1. Nurburgring

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2011
The Nurburgring could return to F1
Average race rating: 7.72/10
Highest race rating: 8.43/10 (2011 German Grand Prix)

The Nurburgring hasn’t held an F1 race since 2013. That was one of just three rounds its held since 2008, all of which earned scores of at least seven out of 10, putting it at the top of the list.

Would it be ranked as highly if it had held more races, or would its average have slipped? We may get to find out soon as the circuit owners recently revealed discussions have been held about bringing the German Grand Prix back to this venue. On the face of this, it could be a smart move.

And the worst track…

Adrian Sutil, Sauber, Sochi Autodrom, 2014
Sochi: Valencia 2.0
The identity of the two tracks at the foot of the list are unlikely to come as a great surprise. The chart was originally propped up by the Valencia Street Circuit, which was dropped after a five-year stint on the calendar.

However a newer venue, which has invited comparisons with Valencia, has taken its place at the bottom since the venue arrived on the calendar in 2014. None of the four races at the Sochi Autodrom have rated as high as seven out of 10, and its average is a poor 5.33.

But Valencia also proved any track can put on a good race given the right circumstances. The Spanish venue went out on a high in 2012 with a lively race. F1 will be back at Sochi for the fifth time this year so hopefully history will repeat itself.

Over to you

Do you agree with the top 10? Which tracks are too high and which other venues should be there instead?

Have your say in the comments. You can see the full list of how all 28 tracks are ranked here:

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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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  • 55 comments on “Your top 10 F1 tracks of the last 10 seasons”

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      6th January 2018, 12:03

      Wow, it’s been nearly 5 years since the last race at the Nürburgring track. Please bring it back, F1 gods.

      1. @mbr-9 I don’t really miss it. I’d rather bring Istanbul Park, Indianapolis, or Buddh International Circuit back than Nurburgring.

        1. @jerejj Disagree about all but Istanbul. Nurburgring is much better than Indy because of the pathetic infield section. And Buddh was just an awful circuit all round that’s probably ranked very close to Sochi and Valencia in the above rating. I certainly never gave a passing grade(6/10) to any race there.

        2. Loved Istanbul track, 2nd sector was really nice.
          Best track for me is Spa by a mile and worst has been the same since the first time I watched F1 that’s Monaco.
          I know, been some good races at Monaco, Riccardo and Johnny H, Dc win Dc third (2nd?) for RBR just hate the boring round and round.

          1. yes i also loved Istanbul. would love to see it on the calendar again

    2. Why is Nurburgring number 1? Neither its average nor it highest ranked race has the highest score.

      1. Think there’s some typos in the average scores for nurburgring and interlagos?

        But nice article overall!

      2. +1

        It makes no sense, especially not with and intro of “The numbers has been crunched”. In that case, they were crunched wrong.

        1. @philipgb @losd Apologies, the wrong score was displayed there, it’s correct now.

      3. The average is actaully 7.72 if you look at the Circuit Ratings link.

    3. In 2011 a crazy, rain-hit race saw Jenson Button win despite falling to last at once stage.

      Jenson Button actually fell to last place twice in that race where he hunted down Vettel for the win :)

      1. after first taking Ham out of the race when he was being overtaken.

        1. @ivan-vinitskyy Ham was stupid to try that overtake in the first place in the spray and next to the pit wall. You can see nothing in the mirrors and Button chose his line. Was a trend, that, in by far the worst season of LH’s career , his judgement failed him on numerous occasions like VS Kobayashi at Spa and few times with Massa.

        2. Yeah…that’s simply not true.

        3. taking Ham out

          still living in a alternate reality since then?

    4. I’m pretty surprised not to see Sakhir here. Where does it stand, and where would it be without the 2010 race? @keithcollantine

    5. I’d like us to come back to a discussion we had earlier this year after the amazing Baku race:

      Monaco – it’s time to ditch it. It’s iconic, it’s cool to see F1 cars there and what not. But it’s time to ditch the annualy worse race of the season. The track is terrible to have an F1 race on. I’ve watched this race for the last 25 years, and year after after I’m re-living the same initial excitement and then the same bitter disillusion and disappointment. I’ve had enough. It’s time to go.
      /The only thing that could make it worthwile would be if the cars ran a special Monaco configuration for the track (less downforce? less BHP?), which would enable them attempting overtakes./

      My thoughts on the tracks from the article:
      Canada – F1’s best/most exciting track/race/.
      Interlagos – F1’s second most exciting race.
      Hunagoring – one of the worst tracks/races of the calendar. I hate everything about it.

      1. @damon Disagree about Monaco, It’s always a race I look forward to & is one of my favorite races each year.

        I love just watching the cars go around Monaco, The skill & bravery of the drivers & the excitement of watching cars pushed towards the limit millimeter’s away from armco. In many ways it’s far more satisfying for me than watching cars go around even the greatest of tracks such as Spa, Silverstone etc…

        Yes the racing there usually isn’t great but that isn’t what Monaco is about. Monaco offers a unique challenge for car & driver. It’s a track where Skill & concentration is of upmost importance & where mistakes are punished (Often severely). In some ways Monaco is what I feel F1 should be about (Above racing/overtaking) & that is a challenge, A challenge that pushes both car & driver & that is why I feel so many drivers love Monaco & why so many feel a win at Monaco is more special than a win at many other venues.

      2. Agree with @stefmeister about Monaco. And I also disagree with you about the Hungaroring. Here it is in P9 on average ratings on the back of the consistently good races in recent years. Above all, this is a track when the drivers have to work very hard and can make a difference. It also doesn’t have the stupid kilometer long runoffs of the Tilkedromes. And overtaking on it is not impossible as it once was. It was called “mickey mouse” once, decades ago when the likes of old Hockenheim, old Estoril, old Imola(notice me using the word “old” a lot?”, an even faster than now, and without the runoffs Monza, etc. were around. And it was. I hated it in the 90’s. But now, I’ll take it over most of the Tilkedromes and some of the emasculated classics as well, without hesitation.

        however it’s hard to argue that Montreal and Interlagos are the 2 best circuits today. That’s because they’re exactly as they were 20 years ago. And Silverstone+Spa are next because they’ve managed to preserve most of their character too. Circuit of the Americas is top 5 because it’s just an abnormally good Tilkedrome. It’s all very logical.

    6. I miss Buddh International Circuit. It was a great track in terms of look and flow and the drivers thoroughly enjoyed it.

      Unfortunately, we didn’t have a single good race there (2013 was decent, though). Overtaking proved to be difficult despite the long back straight and the rest of the track was quite narrow. However, I feel that it could have held races similar to the ones the Hungaroring has in recent years, had it not been robbed of a place on the calendar.

      1. I feel that a calendar placing it around June or July with the rains would have created some lively races for sure. Unfortunately that is exactly when the European season starts so we could never have that. Instead, all the people got to see was the fog in October.
        It was a bloody good track though.

          1. @keithcollantine I see, thanks for the info :)

        1. @major-dev Except that it hardly rains in the monsoon season in New Delhi and the surrounding areas these days :p

          You could shift the Indian Grand Prix to the first race of the season and still have as decent a chance of rain as in June-July.

    7. I’m actually really surprised to see Nürburgring coming out on top. Eventhough I’m german, I never wanted to see this track coming back to F1, but maybe I should give it another chance and stop looking at it as the boring little brother of the great Nordschleife

      1. @d0senbrot
        It’s not a great track but it’s OK, there’s quite a nice flow to it. Certainly better than Hockenheim which is a horrible mishmash.

      2. @d0senbrot We all want to compare to the Nordschleife but it’s frankly pointless. It’s 40 yrs gone from F1 and will never come back. Every track is poor when compared to the best ever. Compare the new Nurburgring to the other modern tracks and it’s not half bad. In fact it’s the best circuit in Germany currently apart from its big brother.

    8. I personally don’t think the current Nurburgring is all that great & TBH I can’t really remember anything especially interesting or exciting happening there in a normal dry race so I don’t really get why it’s at #1.

      I have also kind of felt that as a track Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is massively overrated. Yes we tend to get good races there but I’ve always found the track kind of dull with the only really interesting corner been the final chicane although even that isn’t what it used to be with the changes to the kerbs over the years.

      1. Montreal is interesting just by the fact that it’s different than anywhere else. Requires extreme braking and a low downforce set-up with walls all around ready to punish the slightest error. The track is narrow and difficult to pass on, but it can be done. Driver skill here is worth a lot – we almost never see “team-by-team” grids here. The drivers love it, the crowd is always into it. And the weather throws up challenges on top of that.

        Overrated? I don’t think so.

      2. @stefmeister You might want to refresh your memory about Nurburgring. Both the 2009 and 2013 races were dry and produced good races. The 2011 race was wet/dry and it was inevitably the best of the three but there’s a reason they other 2 both rated over 7. You may not agree with the reasons and you might have voted far lower for those races(each to his own), but it’s the average fans opinion we’re discussing here.

        And I agree with @gitanes about Montreal. Judging by your criteria we can find reason to put down any track on the calendar. Montreal is different, requires driver skill and mostly produces good races. This equals to high ratings quite logically. I also disagree about the lack of interesting corners. Certainly most of them are chicanes but all are different from one another and none are Tilkedrome style chicanes. Turns 3 and 4 are spectacular, quite fast, between walls and there’s a wall on the exit. Turns 6 and 7 is a very tricky one that induces mistakes and battles along the following straight. Turns 8 and 9 chicane is fast and you see drivers fighting for grip as they escape the wall on the exit

        Again, everyone likes different things, naturally, but your reasoning re: Nurburgring and Montreal I disagree with

    9. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      6th January 2018, 15:10

      I am TOTALLY GOBSMACKED that Suzuka does not get in the top 10. Perhaps its a little difficult to overtake but to watch an F1 car hurtle around here is something to behold.

      1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        6th January 2018, 15:15

        Ah ok the title of the feature is misleading.

        It shouldn’t be: Your top 10 F1 tracks of the last 10 seasons

        It should be: The tracks that have provided your top 10 races of the last 10 seasons.

        1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk No, the title is not misleading. It attempts to rank the circuits by objective criteria. Not top 10 races of the last 10 seasons were taken into account, but the average ratings of all the races on all the tracks as voted by thousands of F1Fanatics each year circa 20 times/year. This is as good as we can get to an objective list. Otherwise it’s all subjective speculation since everyone likes different things. But if you take thousands of votes averaged over 10 races for each circuit you can at least say something significant. Yes the criteria of “produces better racing” is dis-proportionally significant in this analysis, but then it is the single most important thing when discussing a certain track’s merits to most fans.

          Personally, Suzuka and Monaco are in my top 10 despite the lack of overtaking, And I usually rate the races there higher than the average, because I rate the races on far more than just the overtaking. But I accept that I’m in the minority on this, and that this analysis is the only quantifiable objective way to measure how the F1Fanatic community as a whole rates the current circuits.

          1. +1

            Which is why I rate any race at Spa as 8+ minimum. As well as Suzuka.

          2. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            7th January 2018, 12:54

            All fair points montreal95. I mostly agree.

            The only thing I’d say is the ratings given by the f1fanatics are for the race and not the track. Agreed the track can have a big bearing on the quality of the race but there are loads of other factors so I still think the title is misleading.

            Granted there is no real objective way to rate how good a track is and good for who? Good for the drivers, teams, sponsors or spectators?

            Maybe I would have titled this feature: Your top 10 F1 tracks for good racing of the last 10 seasons.

            I think what should be taken from from this is if the cars were more closely matched and could race closely together we could race them anywhere and get good races.

    10. Nürburgring: only 3 Grands Prix hosted and still the highest average of them all…

      1. Fancy F1 math at work.

    11. COTA is hands down the best. Groovy and you can pass.

    12. So tracks impact the racing? How come that argument never comes up over aero, engines, sound and looks?

      /ironic but serious

      1. It comes up all the time.

    13. Top 5 tracks for me

      1st Spa Francorchamps
      2nd Montreal
      3rd Interlagos
      4th Baku
      5th Nurburgring

    14. Jonathan Parkin
      7th January 2018, 12:54

      I liked Istanbul Park and Korea. It was a shame Korea didn’t get enough money to develop the city area of the circuit because the cg plans I saw of it looked amazing.

      I wish I could like COTA more but I can’t. With all the tarmac run offs in a variety of colours I just find it visually messy.

    15. Interesting but a ratings table that is full of flaws. Just look at the top 3.
      Two tracks in the top three have not been in use for the whole 10 years and no normalisation has been applied, therefore I will discount those two tracks. The third track in the top 3 had 2 out of three of its best scores because of unusual events, as you mentioned, tyres and the elongated race in 2011. Which if it happened at Malaya or Japan couldn’t have happened, daylight would have run out (2009 Malaya).

      1. It’s a bit like life then.. not always a happy ending and a lot of unexpected events messing up your stats.

    16. Bring back İstanbul Park please… What’s the average rating for it’s races ?

    17. Mattias Hammer
      7th January 2018, 21:40

      One of few that aren’t surprised about the number one. Forget Hockenheim, F1 should go to Nurburgring every year.

    18. My top 10:
      Spa
      Interlagos
      Suzuka
      Istanbul
      Albert Park
      COTA
      Gilles Villeneuve
      Hungaroring
      Monza
      Sepang

      Agree with the others about Monaco, though all it needs to be fixed, IMO, is deleting the Nouvelle Chicane.

    19. Bahrain 2014 and Baku 2017 prove that this article is quite the exercise in futility.

    20. I’d love to see the Nurburgring and Istanbul Park back on the calendar.

      Hockenheim is a poor circuit, not much character compared to the Nurburgring and the races are duller. Much more flow to the Nurburgring with the camber and elevation changes. Easily the better option.

      It is a tragedy that F1 hasn’t visited Istanbul Park in seven years! Hopefully it can somehow return, along with Malaysia, although it’s obviously far too soon for that yet.

    21. Another nice read for the times of lacking racing in the winter Keith! And yeah, we can only hope that Sochi does the same as Valencia – going out with a bang in it’s 5th running!

    22. THE ALL TIME WORST IS ABU DHABI

    23. For me it’s:
      Interlagos
      Albert Park
      Monaco
      Spa
      Shangai
      Bahrein
      Monza
      Suzuka
      Giles Villeneuve

    24. Richard Cantelo (@)
      16th November 2019, 10:56

      Good question, I need a bit of time to think; but I know I’d put Suzuki at no1
      and Hockenheim at no10. Will fill in the rest after some thought. Cheers.

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