Charting the best race circuits of all time is a well documented, discussed and debated pastime among all motorsport enthusiasts, and as we near the end of 2015 and approach thehairpincorner’s four month birthday (cause for celebration) I’ve decided to compile my top ten tracks from around the world.
Now, being such a hotly debated topic, and with the sheer number of historical race circuits all around the globe compiling a definitive top ten is obviously out of the question, I’m sure no two peoples would be the same! To help begin narrowing down my selection I’ve decided to focus on race tracks which are still in use today, so for example the old Hockenheim and Österreichring although both great circuits didn’t feature in my selection. Also, I’ve tried to keep away from including some of the obvious greats such as the Nordschleife and Circuit de la Sarthe so you can perhaps find out about some hidden gems which you may not have heard of before.
Instead of throwing the whole ten into a long list, I’ve decided to space the countdown over several days to ensure that each track gets the space it deserves. All to often when we’re reading these articles online, the author has simply stated his favourite circuit accompanied by just two short sentences, my aim is provide a more in depth account of the history of each track by allow just three or four circuits to feature in each article.
Finally, the search for my ten favourite focused primarily on the tracks the BTCC, F1 and V8 Supercars series visited this season, so whilst you may see a slight bias towards those, all the tracks I have included are greats in their own right, so without further ado lets start the countdown from ten through to seven.
10. Thruxton, Hampshire UK.
In many ways, Thruxton is Silverstone’s quieter little brother. Like Silverstone, Thruxton is built around a former RAF airfield but the lack of international motorsport meetings has ensured Thruxton has remained a hidden gem in the BTCC’s calendar. The infamous fastest corner in the BTCC, Church, and the 1.01.96 lap record help to ensure Thruxton’s status as the UK’s fastest race circuit and the unique stresses on the tyres around the 2.3 mile circuit add an exciting extra dimension to the BTCC’s early season race weekend.
First used as a motor racing circuit in 1950, Thruxton has witnessed it’s fair share of historical events over it’s 65 year history including seeing Team Halfords driver Dan Eaves become the first BTCC driver in history to win all three races in a day back in 2005 and Simon Belcher’s huge crash at Church only served to enhance the corner’s fearsome reputation (you can find a video below). On a personal note, the 1998 BTCC meeting at Thruxton was the first ever motorsport event I ever attended, another reason as to why Thurxton sneaks in ahead of Silverstone and Donnington Park at number ten on my countdown.
9. Nürburgring Grand Prix Circuit, Nurburg Germany.
Whilst the old Nordschleife will forever remain one of the most dificult and majestic circuits in motorsport history safety issues have unfortunately consigned it to the history books, for Formula One at least. WTCC made an extremely successful return to the Nordscheife in 2015 and with a return confirmed for next season, hopes will be high that the event will continue for many years to come. Whilst the new Nurburgring has been criticised by some, it still retains the feel of a classic racing circuit and has been praised by F1 drivers of the highest order including Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber.
Completed in 1984 and standing at a length of 3.1 miles, the new GP circuit stands head and shoulders above some of Herman Tilke’s modern monstrosities and has managed to retain its classic European atmosphere alongside still providing a big enough challenge for the drivers. Unfortunately due to funding issues the Nurburgring was absent from this seasons F1 calendar and I think I speak for F1 fans all over the world when I clamour for its return. The scene of Webber’s long awaited first F1 victory back in 2009 still has a lot to offer F1, especially when compared to newer additions such as Sochi Autodrom and for the sake of his sport, Bernie must listen to F1’s fans and secure the Nurburgring’s place on the calendar for years to come.
8. Red Bull Ring, Speilberg Austria.
Whilst it’s been through many name and layout changes over the course of its history, the 2.6 mile Red Bull Ring was a welcome returnee to the F1 calendar. Banshied from the F1 circus at the end of 2003, a dramatic infrastructure rebuild saw the sound of F1 return to the hills and mountains of Austria after an eleven year absence.
Whilst many new F1 tracks have been criticsed for being too easy to learn and having too many run off areas the Red Bull Ring has stood its ground and remained a challenge for the modern day driver. The last two F1 seasons along with the DTM have seen drivers consistently make mistakes as they push their limits trying to find an extra edge around such a short lap of 1.08.33 seconds and the RBR was the scene of Timo Schider’s now infamous “push him out” team orders debacle at the DTM event back in August. In case you missed it you can find a clip of the incident below.
Set in the Styrian mountains, the Red Bull Ring is perhaps one of the most beautiful and scenic race circuits on the entire planet, and combined with its old school layout and unforgiving gravel traps, it easily ensures its place in my top ten countdown.
7. Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace (Interlagos), Sao Paulo – Brazil.
Our first trip outside Europe takes us over to South America to the home of Brazilian motorsport, Interlagos. Wedged in the busting metropolis of Sao Paulo, Interlagos has remained a highlight of the F1 calendar and has played host to numerous critical title deciders over the years, 2007 & 2008 spring to mind. The short 2.6 mile track was lapped by none other than Juan Montoya in 1.11.473 back in 2004 (you can find the video below) and remains one of the best places to watch F1 on the planet.
The passionate Brazilian fans add an extra element to the atmosphere on race weekends and their support of Felipe Massa after lost the title just seconds after winning it in 2008 will go down in history as one of the greatest moments in modern Formula One. One of the minority of anti clockwise circuits on the F1 calendar, the undulations and uneven track at Interlagos ensures the home of the Brazilian Grand Prix remains one of the biggest challenges on the calendar.
Max Verstappen’s move on Perez through the Senna S this season showed that exciting racing is still possible at Interlagos, and with F1 ever popular in South America, the Brazilian GP at least, is one that looks safe on the F1 calendar.
Check back in tomorrow when I’ll countdown numbers 6,5 and 4 on my favourite circuits, or feel free to let me know which ones you think should be included in the comments below!