Flins-Mureaux: France’s Tilke-free track

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Flins-Mureaux F1 circuit design
Flins-Mureaux F1 circuit design

New details about France’s potential new F1 track have emerged at Grandprix.com.

It’s being built without the aid of Hermann Tilke, who has had something of a monopoly of F1 circuit design for more than a decade.

According to Grandprix.com:

The conseil general of the Yvelines departement, which is funding the circuit, asked for tenders for the design in the autumn and has now chosen the winning bid, presented by the French firm Wilmotte, which boasts offices in London, Paris and Cannes and employs 150 designers.

Wilmotte decided to ally with Britain’s Apex Circuit Design, headed by Clive Bowen, who has a list of circuit designs behind him including the Dubai Autodrome, the Eurasia Autodrome at Domodedovo in Russia, plus ongoing projects such as the Iceland MotoPark, the Eastern Creek Raceway in Australia, Hampton Downs in New Zealand and the new Alabama Motorsports Park in the United States. Apex has also designed international kart tracks for Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

It has often been assumed that a pre-requisite from any track wanting to hold an F1 race is a visit from Hermann Tilke.

Many fans have, perhaps unfairly, criticised Tilke for a lack of imagination in modern F1 track designs, though I have often wondered whether the restrictive rules have more to do with it.

The clockwise Flins-Mureaux design (see here for another picture) departs from Tilke convention in one clear way: there are no obvious pre-arranged ‘overtaking places’ where a tight corner leads onto a long straight and then another tight corner.

Perhaps the designs have assumed that the new generation of F1 cars will be able to follow each other more closely than last year’s were, and so purpose-built overtaking zones can become a thing of the past.

At 4.5km (2.8 miles) this would be one of the shortest tracks in F1, longer only than Monte-Carlo, Interlagos and the Hungaroring.

What do you think of the Flins-Mureaux F1 track design?

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47 comments on “Flins-Mureaux: France’s Tilke-free track”

  1. Yorricksfriend
    16th March 2009, 22:13

    I like the look of it, but only time will tell

  2. Robert McKay
    16th March 2009, 22:23

    Apparently it doesn’t have much elevation change, which is a slight disappointment, as it doesn’t look absolutely thrilling. Having said that, it does look a bit more “retro” than the Tilke tracks. Reminds me a bit of Buenos Aires and tracks of that sort of ilk.

    Thing is, one wonders if Bernie’s desire for a Paris street race might mean that he’s not overly interested in signing a deal with them.

  3. At first glance, without as yet further detailed data, I think looks good but sadly a little short and flat. But, imagine my surprise and delight to hear that Tilke the track destroyer is not involved. This is really brilliant news and so I wish all those involved the greatest success…

  4. If that track is only 4.5 km long – it’s aweful!
    Aweful design, I hate it. It reminds me of the track in Argentina. Well, it is indeed very similar.
    It shows the typical modern philosophy of building a track on the smallest surface possible, hence the typical “H” shape one usually ends up with in such case.

    What do we have there – 2 straights and the rest are either hairpins (at least 4 of them!) and a couple of very slow twisty corners.

    That track is too small for F1. Way to small.

  5. Eduardo Colombi
    16th March 2009, 22:39

    I think Formula One is leading to lose it tradition adopting new tracks and leting go old school tracks like Susuka’s, wich is my favorite circuit.

    But thats all about the business and if that’s what takes to make f1 more competitive I suport it if shows results.

  6. Eduardo Colombi
    16th March 2009, 22:51

    About the track: it is pretty simple and short, nothing extraordinary or breathtaking about it. Too simple for my taste…

  7. If they just raced the top bit that would be cool!

    1. Very good observation ! I agree. The upper part that Keith
      points out , with the two aprox. paralell tracks, could be stretched to go around the whole property, a kind of Monza
      going around in a circle.
      This would make interesting high speed racing with fast turns of irregular radiouses ….
      As long as Tilke doesen´t get near, something good could be done

      The way it is right now i find it too convencional and simple

  8. Tracks need elevation change. This looks like Hungaroring Lite™

    The more races on the side of mountains the better in my opinion!

    1. I’d agree with that anyway. The track doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the lanscape. It’s as if it was just plonked down by helicopter (you wouldn’t be allowed to build a house in such a fashion so the same should go for an F1 track (or any track for that matter). It would be nice to see more tracks like the old hockenheim or spa or suzuka. I reckon they are gettin a little too safety consious to the point where it takes away from the show.

      PS: the medals system sucks…… BIG TIME!

  9. Gonna have to whip it up in Rfactor and give it a go. Looks flat from the top,, view (we need a real elevation plan) adding some up and down (ie showing it) would really change the thought process of what is shown but it looks like flat-ish countryside.

    With some elevation there are a few nice points about it. Also the wider bends on either end of the big straights are interesting, some nice high speed curves. If the middle of the track holds water as it’s a low point it could provide great views of the whole track from the grandstands (clever). Also some mild elevation makes this vastly more interesting. It says there are 6m of elevation in it, so it may provide interesting, they treat a lot of that in the “corkscrew” and play up the riverside atmosphere and rail transport, pretty great pitch for a new smaller venue cleverly done. What else do you think Keith?

  10. it looks like there might be a good passing opportunity in turn 2, and again in the top-right corner of the picture

  11. Anyone else think it looks a bit like Interlagos?

  12. At least it can boast corners who’s radii change throughout the length of the corner. Thats one thing that bothers me about Tilke’s tracks. They look like giant scalextrics, with corners of the same radius.

    1. I actually thought Tilke did a fairly decent job of changing the radii–he likes decreasing-radius complexes like 13 and 14 at Sepang, or the last few corners at the redone bits of Fuji.

  13. I agree Keith, We should make another high speed track like Monza or Old Hockenheim. With the cars being able to run close and with similar engines a slipsteam race would be so cool!

  14. Looks very bland. Hard to see any exciting or interesting point to it. The final three corners remind me of the awful end to the lap at Fuji.

  15. Do we need another short track with no elevation changes or overtaking opportunities?

  16. I like the fact that Tilke isn’t designing it. Also there doesn’t appear to be any mass tarmac run off areas which will make it look less bland thab other new circuits. Looks like a good touring car track, still unsure whether it’ll make a good F1 track though.

  17. Eduardo Colombi
    16th March 2009, 23:39

    not in my perspective…

  18. I’d happily swap the Valencia GP & the Hungury GP for an extra Belgium – SPA GP and call it the European. Come on Bernie, how about it?

  19. I agree with those who have said it: on paper, it looks similar to Buenos Aires.

    And has been stated by Keith, the hate for a man such as Tilke is illogical. He has designed several decent and good tracks in this current era even though his creative limitations are seriously nailed down by the FIA. And blaming his tracks for any faults in F1 panders to a very weak nostalgia argument that can at times fly in the face of safety. Which is ridiculous.

    In the past ten years, every track that F1 has visited has put on a dull race. Several tracks multiple times. There’s a common denominator here, as much as I love Monza and Suzuka and Spa like the rest (and I do). It’s the formula. Imagine that.

    1. true that. People always harp on about Monza, and yes, it is nice to have some historic tracks in the calender, but this is the truth: the Monza race is nearly always a predictable snoozefest, as good as over after the first couple of laps.

  20. I don’t want flat tracks, something akin to Spa is more to my tastes.

  21. First up, all of you probably know more about circuit design and construction than I do, so I won’t pass any serious judgement on the layout. From what I can see, it dose appear a bit like the old Argentine track- lots of turns in a small space. If there isn’t much elevation change, I wonder if, from a pure racing/performance viewpoint, the place would be any sort of improvement over Magny-Cours?

  22. only just bigger than fuji speedway by what – 30m?!

    track layout looks alright, does seem to be squished in a small block of land – as if that’s all they could find / afford.

    would probably be better as a touring car / GT car track than f1.

    if they move that grandstand to the middle it’s almost like malaysia (sepang).

  23. theRoswellite
    17th March 2009, 3:47

    One wonders what the constraints were regarding acreage, and if they can build embankments around the track they could certainly put some elevation changes in the middle of the track….somewhere. If they think having an absolute continuous view of a dull track is better than restricted views of an interesting section of track………….they are not only wrong, they are buying into a failed formula.

    The green-ideas are relevant and overdue…………but, they don’t have to come packaged in boredom. Pardon the pun, but we all need a bit of relief from the normal.

  24. theRoswellite
    17th March 2009, 4:37

    oh, one PS:

    I’d like to see something like the old Avus attached to a layout like this one, with a nice long straight, say 5 miles,(you could use it as public road 51 weeks a year); and at the far end a nice banked section, with the grandstands to the inside. You could have TV cameras on rails to follow the cars on the straight and show it back to the regular circuit on jumbotron screens. The cars would by necessity need to run very little wing, and we could thus see more of the good old days of racing with cars in almost continual 4 wheel drifts in every corner.

    Yes, I do realize that this would probably violate ALL of the present design guidelines for tracks. But, I also know that no one would be confused about which track it was and for good or bad……….it would be memorable.

    Sorry, I’ll go back under my rock.

  25. The track looks boring. I think it’s very unlikely it will provide some overtaking.

  26. Agree with many of the postings here. It just looks boring; too many corners close to 180 degrees because its been stuffed into too small an acreage. No elevation changes, no flow to the design at all, and possibly only two fast corners.
    No doubt it will be built, opened with great ceremony, produce a really boring race and be pronounced a huge success by Bernie!

  27. The bottom half looks like Brands Hatch to me (though I doubt they could create a better first corner than Paddock Bend these days.)

  28. If the French want Eastern creek we’ll give them naming rights if they supply the cash! http://www.skylinesaustralia.com/forums/Eastern-Creek-Layout-t231380.html
    Seriously, I think it too short just like Eastern Creek.

    I do like the idea of a one-off “inside-outside track” with a high speed elevated loop surrounding a tight flat inner loop something a bit shorter than the top side of Monza but also feeding an extra inner loop. it would be a long track by today’s standards

    1. What have they done to Eastern Creek? There was nothing wrong with the old track.

  29. Is it me or does the bottom part look a lot like the Paul Ricard circuit?!!


    They eve have the same number of corners.

  30. With a flat track in such a confined space they might as well have built an oval around the outside. Maybe they link either side with some banking and have an oval for other forms of motorsport?

    Personally I’m always a fan of decent elevation change on a track.

  31. I kind of like it – it looks more organic than some of the forced Tilke designs. But it still has that artificiality about it – I prefer the older tracks that follow geography and have evolved over the years like Spa or Silverstone.

  32. On the subject of track lengths, how short is too short?

    I’ve wondered what people think of this for a while. For example, if we had a very short circuit, say, 55-60 seconds to tour, we’d have a very different sort of Grand Prix on our hands, as fighting through lapped traffic would play a major part. Would it be a frantic, non-stop action thriller, or just frustrating and confined?

    Either way, I would definitely like to see more variety in track length. The calendar might be more interesting if we had a couple of short tracks and maybe a three-minute epic. Totally impractical I admit, but I think it would be fascinating.

  33. Scott Joslin
    17th March 2009, 12:10

    This looks super uninspiring, it could almost be that they have picked up Magny Cours and put it somewhere else. My dislike for the Magny Cours track was that it was crammed in to a small area and doubled back on its self, and this seems to have the same inherrant philosophy. Unfortunately this is the same with the new track at Donington park where the cars never really get unleashed.

    However you could have fooled me, this looks like a Tilke track, that long right hander opening out on the the long straigh in to a hairpin reminds me of China.

    Come on guys, give us some tracks with some character – random water features don’t make a track.

  34. I quite like the look of it, nice to see no tarmac runoff. :)
    Depends what the elevation is like.
    P.S. Roswelite, do you have room under that rock?
    P.P.S. That new Eastern Creek looks awful!

  35. First impressions are that it is a flat short track, I can’t say I am that impressed.

    Does anyone else think this just won’t happen, at least to the timescale that has being mentioned, to host a GP in 2011?

    I don’t know the French planning laws, but if it was in England you probably wouldn’t even get planning permission for a new race track on green fields before the 2011 calendar needed to be finalised.

    Also where is the money going to come from? The only new tracks in recent years have been financed by wealthy governments, would there be the political will to do this in a country like France at the moment? Given the state of the global economy and the fact that circuits make a big loss in hosting a Grand Prix I would also have thought it would be hard to raise the money from other sources either.

    Are there no other circuits in France that could be brought up to F1 standard easily if we defiantly aren’t going back to Magny-Cours?

    1. Paul Ricard HTTT. I’m not sure what the facilities are like but its officially F1-safe.

  36. I agree with those who aren’t very impressed with this design. Seems to me to be just another typical autodrome, with not much to distinguish it from any other. They should make some more drawings available so we could have a better look at it.

    @ Fred Schechter:
    You can create circuits for RFactor? Damn, we should talk. I’ve got a ton of layouts if your interested.

    1. You can create circuits (well, drivable layouts) for RFactor using this:

  37. KingHamilton
    17th March 2009, 18:46

    although its flat, this circuit seems to have some interesting corners, especially turns 8 and 9

  38. Guys, Hungaroring is 4.381km and Fuji is 4.549km. The 1995-98 F1 circuit at Buenos Aires was 4.259km, and TI Circuit Aida (Pacific GP) was 3.702km.

    I don’t find this course overly short, even for large cars. Mexico City is 2.747 miles to the lap. And you have Sears Point, Road Atlanta, Mosport Park, Laguna Seca, Mid Ohio, Portland, and Lime Rock (before the most recent renovations) that are all shorter than the circuit proposed here. All of these tracks host or have hosted 700+hp prototype sportscars and/or CART/IRL machinery. Lime Rock, the shortest of the group listed here, had a pre-chicane lap record of ~45 seconds (122.xxx-mph on a 1.53-mile circuit in 1988), and a chicaned lap record of 43.311 seconds (128.xxx-mph on a 1.54-mile course in 1993). I think we can agree that the aforementioned road courses are very good in spite of their length.

    I really don’t think it will be as tight as so many of you say. The only changes I would make would be to easy the left/right combination before the final “chicane” complex, and then replace that final complex with a long, steadily-increasing radius corner to end the lap. I’d give it a tight early apex with a long, unwinding exit. As to the reality of the circuit, I believe it’s mentioned on the Apex Circuit Design website that one of the corners will be banked at greater than 10 degrees, which actually requires special dispensation from the FIA.

    I’m still not a fan of Tilke, despite what some try to say. A V8 Supercars race at Bahrain just doesn’t get me going, and the same, though not quite as bad, can be said for SuperGTs at Shanghai. I’m simply not very enamored with Tilke’s circuits, regardless of the formula that is racing on them. The only real exception to this is Istanbul, and I still hate the tarmac run-offs there with a vengeance.

  39. I’m not a fan of the layout…
    it’s too sweeping, need more angles it doesn’t look like there’s any definate overtaking places. Nowhere looks like theres any really heavy breaking areas. Of course the near hairpins after the long straights will require a lot of breaking but the corner itself isn’t tight enough to allow late breaking as the car infront can just drive around the outside if anyone does get down the inside because of the loosness of the corner.

  40. It either has to be a fairly quick corner, or a banked hairpin, for the guy to use the outside line to stay ahead. I see two or three braking spots that should be good enough for F1 cars. Also, Turn 1 looks interesting in its own right, as well as being an exciting set up for the hairpin Turn 2. In short, pX54, I must disagree with you on this circuit.

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