There is no doubt about it, there are some incredible race tracks around the world. Some world famous for races such as the 24 hours of Le Mans at Circuit de la Sarthe, Spa 24hrs at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and, of course, the British circuit of Silverstone. It’s not easy to pick just 5 race tracks from around the world to be on those top steps. However, thanks to my time in F1 as a race team mechanic, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many tracks across the globe. I thought I’d share my top 5 circuits, and why I think they deserve a spot on the podium.
So… here we go, in reverse order….
Number 5: Interlagos
The previously-named Sao Paulo Brazilian race track Interlagos is now known as the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, and currently hosts the Brazilian Grand Prix. First opened in 1940, it has a capacity of 60,000 spectators and consists of 15 turns. The total track length is 4.309 km long and it’s widely considered an engaging/challenging circuit. It was here that Senna won on home soil in 1991, and Lewis Hamilton in 2008.
It was also where Max Verstappen succeeded in keeping his Red Bull out of the wall with a dramatic save coming out of the last corner during the wet. What makes this a favorite of mine is the wide-ranging and rapidly-changing weather, which makes for an unpredictable outcome; and a very entertaining race to watch.
Number 4: Nűrburgring Nordchleife
This legendary circuit has such a rich history. This 21-km long race track (and of course public toll road!) challenges the drivers with an astonishing 154 corners and every possible turn you can imagine. Situated in the town of Nŭrburg, in the Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, the track consists of a grand prix race track that was constructed in 1984, as well as the old “north loop” (Nordchleife) track that was constructed in the 1920s in the Eiffel mountains. The 20.8-km-long loop has an elevation change in excess of 300 m – Jackie Stewart dubbed this section “The Green Hell.”
The race track complex is used for all major and world racing events, and has a spectator capacity of 150,000. What makes this one of my favorite tracks is the sheer disparity from any other race circuit in the world. Just to be in with a chance of driving this circuit well, you need to know all 21km with your eyes closed.
Number 3: Mount Panorama
Now this isn’t a circuit where you’d see F1. However, situated in breath-taking surroundings Mount Panorama, or Bathurst as it’s also referred to, is one of my top circuits in the world. It is not a race track as such but a street track, as races take place on public roads. It has steep hills and sharp corners to challenge the best of drivers. It hosts the famous Bathurst 12 Hour and Bathurst 1000 races; as well as various V8 Supercar Races throughout the rest of the year.
The circuit is situated on a hill in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. The length of the track is 6.213 km/h, and has a 174-m elevation difference between its lowest and highest points, as well as really steep sections.
My favorite thing about Mount Panorama is the Liqui Moly 12hr race. It’s a GT3 race which sees over 60 cars competing to become king of the mountain in one of the most prestigious GT3 races in the world. The race starts just before sunrise and finishes in the afternoon. The drivers have a challenge coming over the twisting mountain with the sun beaming in their visors. Imagine driving at 130mph+ with a torch-light being shone in your face! This, and the odd stray kangaroo, has been known to cause plenty of crashes!
Number 2: Circuit De Monaco
Of course Monaco would be on the list. You’d be silly to think it wasn’t. Monaco is like no other track in the world. Well, actually, it’s not a ‘track’. It’s a public road that locals typically use to travel from their apartments to their yachts; which is then turned into a formidable race track. Since its F1 debut in 1950, the street track situated in the Principality of Monaco has basically remained the same to this day. It is, nonetheless, most challenging, considering the fast corners such as Piscine, combined with tough hairpin bends and barriers along the track. The famous Monaco Grand Prix is F1’s top event, however other events are also held here; like the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco.
Furthermore, the night life and unapologetic opulence of Monaco is just as impressive as the track itself. It’s surreal walking the circuit and seeing first hand how tight the track actually is with, in most sections, no run-off for mistakes; it’s straight into a barrier. It takes some real balls to race wheel to wheel here! Monaco is undoubtedly a favorite of mine due to the style of race. Tight, fast and unforgiving. It brings a plethora of different personalities from across the globe to the Principality, and the atmosphere around Monaco on a Grand Prix weekend is buzzing and unexplainable. If you ever get the opportunity, I urge you to go and experience it for yourself!
Number 1: Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore
My chosen track for the top of the podium continues with the theme of street circuits. Singapore features 23 corners – 14 left handers, nine right handers if you were wondering – the most on the F1 calendar, and they come thick and fast. The longest straight is a just 0.8km, offering the drivers very little respite – it’s a full-on cardio work-out of 5.063km of street lit beauty. A personal favourite of mine and a place I’ve come to adore. Singapore is an incredible country, not only for the racing but for the experience too. There aren’t many places in the world where you can go to a night race and it’s just as bright as it is in the day. But as a spectator it is by far the most spectacular! Like Monaco, the wheel to wheel racing is gripping. The circuit itself is constructed over months, causing a lot of disruption for locals throughout the year. But the day after the race is finished, they start the break-down.
For the drivers, it is one of the most physically demanding races of the calendar. Inside the cockpit, it’s a staggering 60oC, which is only fractionally cooler than your average sauna! That’s deeply unpleasant for the drivers, who are wrapped up in several layers of fireproof racewear and racing at the limit for nearly two hours. The Marina Bay Circuit has come into my favorites due to the love I have for Singapore. The Country is beautiful and they know how to host a night race, and a good party too!
If you’d like to know more about some of my other favorite race tracks, I can talk F1 all day! Email me at email@example.com or grab me for a coffee at the next open day!