There are 23 tracks on the F1 calendar, each with their own set of infamous corners. But what are the most breathtaking corners in F1? Here are your top 10.
Image Credit: Codemasters/EA Sports
Formula 1 visits some almighty tracks throughout its 23-race calendar. Among those tracks, there are some breathtaking corners that simply deserve recognition in their own right. Here is a list of the top 10 most breathtaking corners on the F1 calendar in no particular order.
Turn 3, Zandvoort
For 2021, Zandvoort received a large redesign allowing it to once again host the Dutch Grand Prix. Larger gravel traps and a safer pit exit were part of the changes but the headlining tweaks came in the form of banked corners.
Yes, the Dutch Grand Prix now features a flavour of American oval racing as the final corner and Turn 3 both rise up from the ground and provide significant camber. The latter, especially at the start of the race, is a sight to behold. Watching cars tip their noses into the camber and magically stick to the wall of death-esque profile is breathtaking.
There are multiple lines to choose from when going through this irregular turn. But the line most real-world drivers employ is the high one, following the barrier. This enables them to carry as much speed as possible. So, despite covering a greater distance, you needn’t slow down excessively nor fight for traction on exit.
Wall of Champions, Montreal
In recent years, the Wall of Champions has been somewhat anonymous. Whereas it would often put an end to drivers’ weekends in the past, it is yet to feature in the new ground effect era. In 2022, drivers managed to escape the terror that is the Wall of Champions, but will they manage to do so this year?
In reality, the true challenge of the final chicane at Montreal is not avoiding the wall at the end. In fact, the big dangers are the pair of huge apex kerbs. They will launch a Formula One car if one takes too many liberties, so it’s best to steer clear.
That is easier said than done however. The fastest line involves clipping the sausages ever so slightly as this provides the best run onto the straight. The best advice one can give is this: don’t be greedy with the sausages, and be cautious when applying the throttle on exit.
Eau Rouge, Spa
Today, Formula 1 cars fly through the Eau Rouge and Raidillon sequence without even a hint of a lift. But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s a boring corner. Even now with the barriers pushed further back and safety at an all-time high, the rise over the crest will always terrify drivers.
The plunge down hill from La Source reveals just how steep the section is. By the time you finally reach the bottom, you’re looking towards the sky in search of a line of sight to Raidillon. Depending on your car’s downforce level, the compression of Eau rouge – that’s the bottom of the hill – disturb the balance. Not to worry though, you only have to achieve the perfect line through the right-hander afterwards.
Finally, without reference points, you must flirt with track limits as much as possible by the time you get to the top of the hill. Fail to judge this to perfection and you’ll either cut the course or lose momentum for the long Kemmel Straight.
Whilst the Eau Rouge-Raidillon section at Spa is no longer the terrifying roller coaster ride it once was, it is still a crucial part of the course. Get it right and you’ll manage a purple first sector. Get it wrong and you’ll be haemorrhaging time. That is, unless you find a barrier.
Turns 16-18, COTA
In simracing, COTA – or the Circuit Of The Americas – is a Marmite track. You either love its technical layout that encourages wheel-to-wheel racing, or you hate its wide open car park feel.
Either way, one thing everyone can agree on is that many of its corners are sublime. The pinnacle of which has to be the long Turn 16, 17 and 18 right-hander. This triple-apex curve tests a car to its fullest and rewards great downforce.
In Formula One, it is an extremely technical corner due to its proximity to the previous turn. As a result, F1 cars are accelerating all the way round this 180° bend. As speed builds and the downforce piles on, it becomes more and more apparent whether you turned in at the right time or not. Turn-in late and you’ll end up spinning on the marbles. Turn-in too early and you’ll cut the track à la Max Verstappen in 2017.
Much like Eau Rouge and Raidillon, this may now be an easy corner in an F1 car. But that does not mean it isn’t a breathtaking curve to drive flat-out.
Built on an old airfield in the UK, Silverstone is an unlikely place to find one of the best tracks on the F1 calendar. But, there’s a reason it hosted the first ever championship Grand Prix and still features on the calendar today, and it’s not for its beautiful weather!
Choosing your top corner at Silverstone is like picking your favourite child, but there’s no denying that Copse is an underrated one. Next to complex sections like Maggotts and Becketts and infamous names like Stowe or Brooklands, it doesn’t stand out, but it certainly should do.
Essentially half a COTA Turns 16-18, it requires immense courage and very heavy right foot. Turning in at the perfect moment is the difference between holding it flat and having to lift off. Just because it’s a flat-out corner in quali trim doesn’t mean the exit is easy, though. High frequency kerbs on the outside mean keeping a steady hold of the wheel is crucial to not spin out.
In the race, Copse is a great corner for picking the newbies out from the pros as tyre management is essential through this sweeper. Slightly lifting puts more weight on the front axle, reducing front tyre scrub and preserving temperature.
Turns 11-12, Melbourne
Formula One recently made its annual visit down under to the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne. Much like Zandvoort, the track got a major update for the 2021 season, although we never got to see the changes until 2022.
Whilst the faster middle sector is impressive, it isn’t the focus of this section. No, we are taking a look at the pair of corners following the circuit improvements. Turns 11 and 12 form one of the fastest chicanes on the F1 calendar and watching cars pass through it at speed is nothing if not breathtaking.
Nailing this portion of track is all about setting up the second half of the chicane. You may be tempted to send it into the left-hander at speed, but don’t. The best line involves hugging the inside enabling you to shoot out of the right-hander with as much momentum as possible. Get this right and you’ll get an excellent run towards the reprofiled Turn 13, perfect for an overtake.
Ascari Chicane, Monza
Much like the T11-12 chicane at Melbourne, the Ascari Chicane at Monza is all about setting up the final part. Of the three corners that make up this complex, you want to compromise two.
The first left is all about getting excellent traction and keeping momentum high. The sweeping right could be taken flat-out, but requires gentle application of the throttle in order to open up the final left-hand flick. The perfect line combines clipping the apex and going over the tarmac run-off on the outside.
This sequence is perhaps one of the most satisfying on the F1 calendar. Flying over the first apex kerb and landing perfectly on the opposite side of the track is a dream. Feeling the rear squat as you apply the power through the second turn is outlandish. And perfectly timing the left-hand flick is other worldly.
Stadium Section, Mexico
Many corners on this list are a challenge for drivers due to their speed and danger. But there’s an argument to be said that a party atmosphere can be just as breathtaking from within the cockpit.
That’s why the Stadium section at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez gets a well-deserved mention. Whilst it is perhaps one of the slowest turns on the list, its electric buzz created by thousands of Mexican fans cheering is something every driver dreams of experiencing. But get this slice of tarmac wrong and the cheers will soon turn into boos, so make sure to nail the section.
Swimming Pool, Monaco
One of the most prestigious venues on the F1 calendar, the Monaco street circuit certainly has plenty of breathtaking corners. The run up from Sainte Devote to Casino, the Fairmont Hairpin and the blast through the tunnel should all feature on this list.
But there’s one section of this infamous track that will never stop extracting the breath from drivers. One of the fastest parts of the track, it is also one of the tightest.
After the Nouvelle Chicane, you fly alongside the harbour before flicking left into Tabac. Keep the lock on for arguably the best string of tarmac on any street circuit. Follow the track left and then right all whilst picking up speed as you venture round the Swimming Pool. Finally, a few downshifts lead you towards the right-left chicane that’s all about getting as close to the walls as you dare.
If you ever try designing the perfect driver’s track, it will most likely resemble Suzuka in more ways than one. The Honda test track is unique for its figure-8 layout and adored by drivers for its never-ending assault of fast corners.
The first sector best represents this inundation of flowing sweepers thanks to the famous Esses. It’s a rhythmic left-right-left-right-left sequence that ties together the hectic first corner and sweeping Dunlop Curve. Better yet, this combination of medium speed corners that rewards a balance of the brake, steering and throttle climbs its way up hill. And as we all know, great tarmac sections are defined by their elevation change.
Unlike the esses at COTA or the Silverstone Maggotts and Becketts section, the Suzuka Esses don’t provide a gradual deceleration. Instead, each corner has its own radius, camber, length and ideal speed. In fact, each corner has a personality that can only be learnt through hours of practice. Once you perfect the line, the combination of inputs and win the battle Japan’s ever-changing weather, you’ll think this is the top sequence of corners in F1.
What is your favourite corner or sequence of corners on the F1 calendar? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!