Top ten… Corners in Formula 1

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren-Mercedes, Istanbul, 2005 | DaimlerChryslerIt’s Istanbul next and that means the drivers once again get to grapple with the best new corner on the F1 calendar.

It may have a rubbish name but turn eight on the Istanbul course is a brilliant bend.

Hermann Tilke may have cursed many tracks with some tedious turns but he’s also created some good corners as well – and there’s plenty of other great corners still thriving. Here’s ten of my favourites:

Turn Eight – Istanbul Park

Modern circuits aren’t supposed to have fast corners, let alone four-apex monsters with unsettling bumps. The teams have to run their cars low for maximum speed around the rest of Istanbul Park, which causes the drivers all kinds of problems as the cars start bottoming out at turn eight.

In 2005 driver after driver ran wide at this corner in qualifying. I stood their during last year’s race and in the pounding heat I saw Michael Schumacher make that vital mistake that cost him precious seconds – and eventually four points – to Fernando Alonso.

Becketts – Silverstone

Whenever I go to Silverstone, whatever race I’m watching, I make a beeline for Becketts. But nothing come close to rivalling Formula 1 cars going through the opening two parts of the five-bend complex. Their change of direction at maximum speed is just astonishing.

In series where aerodynamics don’t play as great a role, it’s a critical sequence. In the GP2 sprint race on the morning of this year’s Grand Prix I saw leader Pastor Maldonado take a fraction too much kerb on the way in. That put Adam Carroll right on his tail and though Maldonado parried Carroll’s attacks for the next few bends, two miles later on the other side of the track Carroll squeezed through to win.

If only that happened more often in F1!

Pouhon – Spa-Francorchamps

Yes, I could have written this entire article using just corners on the mighty Spa-Francorchamps. But I limited myself to one per track.

The challenge of the once-great Eau Rouge has been neutered by a grippier surface and less powerful V8 engines. Now it’s the rapid, downhill, thread-the-eye-of-the-needle sweep of Pouhon that’s the most dramatic place to watch at Spa.

Or is it Stavelot? Or Blanchimont? Or Les Fagnes…

Casino – Monte-Carlo

While other parts of the Monte-Carlo track have been opened out, Casino remains as tight and punishing as ever. Sweeping in at speed from Massenet the drivers have to brake and flick the car through Casino without understeering wide.

Get it wrong and you’ll thump the barrier hard – as Felipe Massa did in qualifying last year.

Campsa – Circuit de Catalunya

It’s near-blind on the way in, demanding total commitment from the drivers at 230kph. It’s also exposed, and strong gusts of wind cause problems for the drivers particularly in qualifying.

Another bend that F1 cars attack at a much higher speed than any other racing category.

Parabolica – Autodromo Nazionale Monza

Monza’s long straights demand minimum downforce trim – which makes this long, fast 180-degree bend extra-tricky.

Mergulho – Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos

Another track that’s not short of good corners, Mergulho is a downhill plunge where the drivers attack at maximum throttle but fighting to ride the Interlagos bumps.

Imola – Circuit de Nevers

Odd to name a corner after a circuit – especially as the Imola circuit has few bends the equal of its namesake on the French Grand Prix track. Imola is essentially a chicane – but much quicker than your average chicane, with a rapid elevation change thrown in for good measure.

Get it wrong and your line into Chateua d’Eau and the following straight are compromised, and you’re vulnerable to attack. Fernando Alonso’s semi-kamikaze pass on Nick Heidfeld at Imola was the highlight of this year’s race.

Nurburgring 2006 | James Moy / Crash Media GroupSchumacher S – Nurburgring

Michael Schumacher may have had a hand in designed the Veedol Schikane but it was the faster left-right following the Dunlop Hairpin that was named after him this year.

Lewis Hamilton celebrated the occasion by having a big crash at the corner when his front right wheel failed. It may be flat out in V8 cars, but it’s another place where F1 cars impress with a very high speed direction change.

Genting Curve – Sepang International Circuit

I’ve always though Genting was an under-rated pair of bends. The entry is very quick at over 250kph and F1 drivers have to scrub off a little speed while changing direction at precisely the right moment to nail the right-hander.

Photos: DaimlerChrysler | James Moy / Crash Media Group

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