The Spanish Grand Prix will have a slightly different look to it this weekend. After 16 races run with a slow, awkward chicane in the final sector, the original pair of fast right hand sweepers have been returned to their original glory.
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The loss of the slow chicane has been greeted with delight by drivers – many of whom have openly admitted their dislike of the old chicane and are relishing the return of two fast corners taking their place.
So with one of the most unpopular sections of any circuit on the F1 calendar seemingly gone for good, what are the other corners or segments of tracks that RaceFans' regular writers want to see get similar treatment?
Silverstone's botched update
I thought about the Hungaroring, which can be tedious in parts, and also Mexico City where spectators get to see so much of the track but the action in the opening corners tends to just involve collisions due to how the track goes from being incredibly wide to incredibly narrow. But I settled on Silverstone.
The amount of character that was lost with those two changes made Silverstone a totally different place to watch races at and to work from, particularly in the high-level series where they had no choice but to use the new layout and facilities. Thankfully European and national motorsport has continued to use the old paddock facilities between Woodcote and Copse, and club racers love using the National layout of the track that turns Maggotts into a hairpin that connects to the Wellington Straight.
Given Silverstone used to be an airfield, the area which the Arena loop was built on is primarily flat and therefore it would not be too challenging to change it again. I would propose that Village, the third corner of the lap in F1 races and a right-hander, should be changed so it turns left onto the Wellington Straight and cuts out the tediously slow 'Loop' and Aintree corners.
Monza's messy chicane
Who was responsible for the ill-tempered and contentious collision between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix that raised the temperature of their championship duel well past boiling point?
It was not Hamilton. It wasn't even Verstappen – no matter what the stewards said. In fact, the person to blame for the drama that unfolded that day was actually whoever it was who designed the abomination that is the Rettifilo chicane.
When drivers inevitably have to bail out of the corner, they either must slalom through a maze of polystyrene or clatter over an ugly assortment of speed bumps and sausage kerbs. The previous double-chicane design was not the greatest overtaking opportunity as it demanded less braking than the current version, but it was honestly better than what we currently have.
It also doesn't help that modern F1 cars have outgrown the narrow kink and made the prospect of two cars making it around the right and left side-by-side near impossible. And whether it's Formula 2, FIA F3, or Italian F4, send any pack of eager and inexperienced junior series drivers down to the Rettifilo to start a race and it's not a question of if any will crash, but how many will.
Whether the answer lies in simply making the chicane wider or shallower or in a new, modern approach to a bus stop style chicane is one only actual track design experts can and should say. But simracing has already provided the perfect solution, just like the 'no chicane' variant in Gran Turismo and many other games. Just get rid and let them fly into Curva Grande like the heroes of old used to…
Monaco's impossible confines
When discussing a track that needs improving for better racing, look no further than the most recent venue. The Circuit de Monaco has struggled to put on a good show in recent years. The track has undergone various changes throughout its long history but without some changes, it could be axed.
Last year the circuit organisers got a big wake-up call and fought hard to keep the "jewel in the F1 crown" on the calendar. Eventually finding common ground, the race remained – but it felt like a stark warning from F1 to shake up the racing.
Some of the changes have been very minor, like Mirabeau and the Fairmont Hotel hairpin which remain pretty much untouched, bar some on-track logistics like kerbs to keep in line with the FIA's track safety terms and conditions,
Essentially the problem with Monaco is the lack of overtaking opportunities during the race, and more often than not, qualifying is the more exciting of the two.
Speaking at the weekend to Nyck de Vries, he compared racing a Formula 1 car to a Formula E car, and his main gripe as to why F1 struggles in Monte-Carlo was the size of the cars in comparison to its narrow streets. There are so few, if any, overtaking opportunities – the race becomes stagnant pretty quickly.
Various ideas have been thrown around, including extending the circuit and additional DRS zones, which could encourage more overtaking opportunities. It would still require the track to be widened to give these big modern F1 cars a chance to fight side-by-side. A single DRS zone on the main straight could be where Monaco is really struggling to deliver action, but some significant changes to the track could make this jewel pick up some shine again. The problem, as Red Bull's Christian Horner pointed out after Sunday's race, is finding room in the tiny principality to do it .
COTA's go-slow no-no
Circuits have improved or removed quite a few of the worst corners on the F1 calendar in recent years. Case in point: The dire Sochi Autodrom , which barely had a single corner worthy of the name. It was already heading for the chop before F1 cancelled its contract with the promoter last year .
Yas Marina , another of Hermann Tilke's less celebrated efforts, was given a badly-needed reworking in 2021 which expunged many of its tediously slow chicanes. I thought the changes were were unquestionably for the better, and if anything I'd've gone further. I prefer the revised, more flowing configuration of Albert Park in Melbourne used since last year too.
So where is there still room for improvement on the F1 calendar? A few clumsy chicanes remain, notably the one which concludes a lap of the otherwise majestic Spa-Francorchamps . Granted, there's not much room to insert a better solution, but like Will says about the Rettifilo you do think they could have come up with something more elegant and less painfully slow. The Foro Sol complex in Mexico is another example: If F1 can't race around the classic Peraltada any more, at least put on a spectacle for the fans.
For me chicanes like this can be tolerated if they allow a classic venue to meet modern safety standards and continue hosting grands prix. They're a necessary evil. What I find infuriating is when new circuits are designed incorporating slow corner complexes which aren't necessary.
The one which irritates me is at the Circuit of the Americas . I had the great fortune to drive this circuit in a McLaren MP4-12C a few years ago and it is undoubtedly a modern classic.
But what is the point of turns 13 to 15? One hairpin does not need to be followed by two more. From the air it looks as if the engineers bought more asphalt than they needed and created a tight little knot of corners to use it all up. It ruins the flow of the lap.
I don't believe corner sequences like this are exciting to spectate at, nor do they offer much challenge to the drivers. I say this with some confidence as it was the only point on the track I felt I coped with well, unlike the daunting triple-right which follows it or the sinuous opening sector where I struggled to spot the apexes much less hit them.
But as I say, this is an otherwise terrific circuit spoiled by a few duff corners. It's incomparably better than the likes of Sochi or Valencia. And I don't have high hopes for this weekend's new IndyCar venue either…
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Now Catalunya's chicane is gone, which tracks would we 'fix'? · RaceFans have 1721 words, post on www.racefans.net at June 1, 2023. This is cached page on Auto News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.