x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

The track record on getting the right balance for F1

A number of grand prix circuits have altered their layout in the aim of improving racing.

Silverstone in England has undergone many changes in the past 20 years.
Silverstone in England has undergone many changes in the past 20 years.

A number of grand prix circuits have altered their layout in the aim of improving racing. Graham Caygill looks at the successes and failures


The British track has had probably the most changes in the past 20 years of any current grand prix track. Prior to 1991, the track had been just fast straights and sweeping corners, with a tight chicane at the end of the lap.

The first change saw a new area of track created after The Bridge, designed to slow the cars and create two overtaking opportunities. A second chicane was placed at Club Corner. Last year, after a number of processional races, the track cut out The Bridge section and instead added a fast right corner, followed by a slow set of corners leading on to a straight, which saw plenty of overtaking last year.

A new pit complex has been built in the south section of the track for this year's race and means the pit-straight will now move to between Club and Abbey.


The layout of the final chicane has been altered a few times since the track first hosted the Japanese Grand Prix in 1987.

It has been moved back and widened in an attempt to offer more of an overtaking opportunity. The corner has seen plenty of passing and incidents, and has also been used to create overtaking at the first corner.


The old Hockenheim, which shares the German Grand Prix with the Nurburgring, was once a four-mile circuit with three long straights. In an attempt to improve the racing and have more action in front of the spectators, the track was radically altered in 2002, incorporating new straights and corners.

The redesign has been a success with overtaking very possible, most notably in 2008 when Lewis Hamilton passed three cars late to win the race.


Since 2007, the final part of the lap at the Circuit de Cataluyna has been adjusted. Before, Turn 13 was a sweeping bend leading on to a short straight that curved right on to the start-finish straight. Organisers tightened Turn 13 and created a short run into a chicane, with the exit leading onto a shorter run on to the main straight.

The idea was to keep the cars closer together so a driver could have the chance to pass at the end of the straight at Turn One. The alteration has had a negligible effect.


The German track did away with the fast chicane at the start of the lap in favour of a sharp right-hander leading into a short new part of track before going back to the original track.

The change has been a success with the corner offering a genuine overtaking opportunity, with a number of passes and collisions happening there in the seven races held there since to improve the action.


Prior to 2001, the first corner was a chicane; overtaking was possible, but only just. The track, hosting the Italian Grand Prix, was altered into a tight chicane, which involved braking from 300kph down to 60kph for a sharp right-left.

The change has served its purpose and has seen much overtaking since then with drivers slipstreaming their rivals down the start-finish straight before diving for the inside line into the turn.