Will Monza lose “fastest track” crown?

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Silverstone could eclipse Monza as F1's fastest track
Silverstone could eclipse Monza as F1's fastest track

The revised Silverstone circuit revealed yesterday could take Monza’s place as the fastest track in Formula 1.

Though F1 cars will hit higher top speeds at Monza, the projected average lap speed for F1 cars at the new Silverstone is 4kph faster than that achieved at Monza last year. Here’s why.

Fastest lap speeds in F1

The graph below shows the average lap speed of the fastest lap at three tracks in their Grand Prix weekends from 2000 to 2009. Times from all F1 sessions were counted:

Fastest average lap speed at F1's fastest tracks
Fastest average lap speed at F1's fastest tracks (click to enlarge)

Fastest average lap speeds for each track (highest in italics):

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Monza 248.95 253.66 259.83 258.56 262.24 260.03 256.75 256.34 248.68 251.40
Spa 226.71 233.36 241.66 239.86 236.24 239.98 237.79 241.28
Silverstone 215.95 230.06 234.28 232.88 236.57 235.68 230.62 233.82 232.69 236.92

Speed-limiting rules hit Monza hardest

Rules brought in to slow F1 cars down have cut average speeds at Monza more than they have at tracks like Spa and Silverstone.

This because engine performance has a greater effect on lap time at Monza than aerodynamic downforce, and engine performance has been severely restricted in the past five years – due to the move from V10s to V8s in 2006, and the lowering of the rev limit in 2007 and 2009.

The teams run special low-drag aero kits at Monza to allow them to hit top speeds over 30kph higher than any other track on the calendar. Aerodynamic performance matters little over Monza’s chicanes.

At Silverstone and Spa the teams use a more conventional aerodynamic set-up because the tracks have more quick corners. As we saw earlier this month, largely unrestricted aerodynamic development over the winter means the cars are quite a bit quicker this year.

Silverstone’s changes

The changes being made to Silverstone will make it quicker than the old version (and how often do we say that about an F1 circuit?).

Silverstone originally estimated F1 cars will lap the revised 5.9km circuit at around 1’23.13 – suggesting an average lap speed of more than 255kph.

When you consider that the cars will probably be flat-out from the re-profiled (but no slower) Club, through Abbey up to Village, and then flat-out from The Loop and down the new Wellington Straight, it’s clear the new stretch of tarmac will be quite a bit quicker than the one it replaces even with its two slow corners.

The re-profiling will cut out the slow Abbey chicane and Brooklands will be wider and faster.

Will all these changes add up to a faster lap speed than Spa and Monza? We’ll find out in July.

But even if it does, it may only prove fleeting. With more downforce cuts planned for 2011 including the double-diffuser ban, the initiative could swing back towards Monza.

Silverstone Arena circuit

Image (C) www.mclaren.com

58 comments on “Will Monza lose “fastest track” crown?”

  1. Marc Connell
    30th April 2010, 9:33

    Nice write there!!
    As you said as soon as the downforce is lowered and the ban off double diffusers. (maybe they will bring out triple or quad?) I think monza will be the fasted with SPA then silverstone behind. may be abu dahbi

    1. Jarred Walmsley
      30th April 2010, 12:37

      I think the ruling will be a single diffuser only to prevent ideas like that being put into production

    2. Lol Abu Dhabi, literally a circuit littered with useless chicanes.

  2. Nice insight there. Quick thinking on your part as I haven’t come across this topic on other F1 sites usch as ESPNF1 and ITV F1.

    Cheers :)

  3. I think MOnza will remain faster.
    But the most fast tracks we have the best it is!!!
    I regret the old “european hot and fast summer” (Paul Ricard, Silverstone old style, Hockenheim old style, Zeltweg, Zandvoort and Monza).

    I would like to have more tracks where the cars run in the flat aerodynamic set-up of Monza.

    1. Push the Button
      30th April 2010, 13:49

      “…(Paul Ricard, Silverstone old style, Hockenheim old style, Zeltweg, Zandvoort and Monza)…”

      Oh yeah, each and every one of these would have a permenant place on my calendar!

  4. Are there any changes that would make Spa the fastest track?

    1. I don’t know what effect removing the bus stop would have, making it a flat-out run through Blanchimont and down to the finish line. Though it would probably cause a few heart attacks if you suggested it to the FIA safety commission!

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        30th April 2010, 10:26

        Remoivng the Bus Stop would do nothing – the braking zone would simply be moved down the road to La Source. There is nothing that can be done for Spa short of completely re-building sections of the circuit so that the braking zones (La Source, Les Combes, Malmedy, Les Fagnes and the Bus Stop) are all fast corners. And that would be pretty boring, because while fast corners are good, you also need the slower stuff in there.

        The only circuit that could be reasonably modified to blck Silverstone from being the fastest circuit is Monza, and that would involve going flat out through the chicances.

        1. Audi did a test there with their R10 a few weeks ago where they bypassed the Rettifilio, so they were flat-out from Parabolica to the second chicane.

          Shame they’re allowed to do that in test but not the race – must be a while since someone went round the Curva Grande that quickly! I’m not aware of any lap times from the test but would be interested to hear if there are any.

          1. Would be great, if they can get rid of that chicane after cutting downforce and engines in the last years.

            What would you think the Bahrain outside loop would look like in comparison?

          2. Ned Flanders
            30th April 2010, 12:23

            I’d love to see F1 races bypass the first chicane too, it would be quite a spectacle. But I don’t see it happening.

            They would probably be able to tinker with the second chicane to extend the run off, which is doable, but they’d also have to extend the run off at the Curva Grande, which would require cutting down a load of trees (and that ain’t gonna happen)

          3. Mark in Florida
            30th April 2010, 23:25

            Keith are you sure it was a R10 and not a R15 plus the new car? Just wondering about it.

          4. You’re right it was the R15 plus.

        2. How would removing the bus stop do nothing? If you remove it, there’s one less braking zone…………

          You spend 5s in the bus stop. Remove it and you’d spend about a second through the same section of track.

          1. Prisoner Monkeys
            30th April 2010, 11:13

            Yes, but you’d need to brake earlier and heavier for La Source. The braking zone from Bus Stop would be moved into the braking zone for the hairpin.

          2. Ned Flanders
            30th April 2010, 12:19

            Of course removing the Bus Stop would make the circuit quicker! The La Source stop would be a bit bigger, but the cars are approaching top speed at La Source anyway so it wouldn’t make that much difference.

            Although it’s all hypothetical because there is 0% chance of the Bus Stop ever being bypassed

          3. The bus stop is there so the cars aren’t approaching the pits at 200mph on the right-hand side of the track. Can’t see them getting rid of it!

            But there must be a better solution than that horrible double-hairpin arrangement. What was so bad about the 04/05 version?

          4. “But there must be a better solution than that horrible double-hairpin arrangement. What was so bad about the 04/05 version?”

            Going by recent statements, Max must have had it put there just to spite us fans.

          5. Prisoner Monkeys
            30th April 2010, 13:23

            I always thougth the 2004/05 arrangement was pretty ugly.

          6. But surely not as ugly as the current chicane? We would never have had that ridiculous incident in 2008 without that turn.

          7. To be honest guys I was asking the question more from a car point of view. I.e. what changes to the car do u think would make Spa fastest. I was curious if it would be even possible or would it always be the case that Monza or Silverstone would be.

        3. yeah but instead of two slow braking zones in that section, there’d be only one!

        4. Eliminate the Varlante Ascari and expect to see 230+ mph . Then again it’ll look a bit like Daytona, too.

    2. There probably could be, but lets hope they don’t change Spa again.

      1. Let Spa be the way it is now, don’t change it.

  5. Personally, I don’t like at all the last Bus Stop configuration.

    1. I agree about not liking the new style Bus Stop, I still miss the old one and even last year when watching the coverage part of me still expected the old Bus Stop to be there when they came round the track.

    2. The new-style bus-stop is rubbish. The old one was so distinctive, but this one could be anywhere (designed by tilke).

      1. I agree – and did they have to cut so many trees ? It looks like a wasteland now.

  6. Robert McKay
    30th April 2010, 12:36

    We’ve had at least three Bus Stops in the last few years that I can remember…the middle one went the same ways as the older one but was opened on the exit. That was my least favourite – the current one is better than that one.

    Whether Silverstone is faster or not is almost no matter to me, interesting stat though it is…the important thing about Monza is that it is last of the proper low-downforce configuration tracks. We could do with another one or two of them, in my view.

    1. theRoswellite
      30th April 2010, 16:03

      Speaking of another low down force track…

      I wonder what the average speed would be for F1 cars on the standard Indy circuit?

      Now that race would generate a bit of press.

      Question: If there were, say, three or four low down force races, would it benefit any of the teams to actually design a car specifically for that role…a bit of the old Mercedes W196 streamliner philosophy, as opposed to just making modifications to existing designs.

      An obvious idea who’s time has not come, when one considers cost. Also, the rules may be so restrictive as to the cars dimensions that you couldn’t really optimize a totally different, or high speed, design approach.

      Keith needs to get an exclusive sit-down with Adrian…best of luck with that one (never hurts to ask, if you can endure the laughter)!

      1. The oval? It’d be much quicker than the Indy Cars lap… and I think that tells us why it wouldn’t happen.

        1. We want turbos
          1st May 2010, 0:37

          Could always run a test at rockingham! ONLY a test don’t want a yawnfest oval race.

  7. It will be interesting to see if the F1 teams use low-downforce configs for Silverstone this year. The old Hockenheim has needed a replacement for a looooong time now.

    1. I don’t think they will, because there’s still a lot of quick corners.

      If you consider the tracks where they do use the low-downforce kit – Montreal and Monza – they’re mainly straights and slow corners. Yes, Monza has a couple of quick corners but the cars spend so long winding their way up to flat-out there’s no point running more downforce.

  8. Fast races are all very well but with the present regulations fast races equal short races.
    I don’t think any Grand Prix should be under 90 minutes.

    1. Robert McKay
      30th April 2010, 14:02

      I agree with that, Monza’s 70 minute race is ridiculously short compared to the Monaco GP of 1hr 50 / 110 mins.

      1. Longest race I think is Singapore, not Monaco.

        Yeah, short races are a bit of disappointment.

        FIA should increase Monza race distance from 300 to 350 km (like they reduce Monaco from 300 to 250).

        1. Robert McKay
          30th April 2010, 15:00

          Yeah, right about Singapore, I just used Monaco because I knew the average race time of it off the top of my head :-D

  9. I haven’t been an F1 fan for that long, but didn’t Silverstone used to be the fastest circuit? Before they completely changed the circuit in the 90’s?

    1. Ned Flanders
      30th April 2010, 14:24

      Yeah it was. Keke Rosberg set the fastest ever F1 lap (in terms of averag speed), which stood for around 20 years ’til Juan Pablo Montoya broke it at Monza.

      The pre 1991 Silverstone was incredibly simple though, it only had 10 corners, and only a few of these required heavy braking:


      1. Thats the sort of track F1 can have instead of Ovals. Corners going both ways but a general drafting configuration.

        1. Ned Flanders
          30th April 2010, 17:28

          Yeah, I agree. I would like to see an F1 race on an oval but, failing that, a few more simplistic tracks would add a bit of variety to the calender. Here are a few other examples:


          http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5c/Circuit_Valensia_street.png (cut off the inland bit from Turn 14- 25)

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shanghai_International_Racing_Circuit_track_map.svg (cut off Turn 5, 6 + 7)

          1. cutting off 5-6-7 would delete fast, challenging corners.

  10. Old Hockenheim was great, it’s a shame that we won’t see that ever in our life.

    1. Eh, well I wouldn’t truly know. But the old circuit was complained about an awful lot, straights an chicanes, meh, everyone used to say it was souless.

      Personally I’d prefer another Spa type, medium low downforce ciruit, to a full on tea tray low downforcer.

      Seeing as downforce is such a problem these days though I don’t see why they don’t build more of them.

  11. Having just watched J Allen’s tour of the new circuit, it looks fantastic, fast but a continual battle to keep a good line and speed, and plenty of chances for overtaking. Let’s see I guess, but after all the pressure piled on Silverstone, some really positive track news for once!

  12. Normally i like to see a bit of rain at a Formula 1 weekend as it spices things up a bit, but i will be fed up if it lashes it at Silverstone this year. I want to see them tackle the new abbey at 180mph and of course copse at 190mph!

  13. New Silverstone circuit looks awesome, but in my opinion Monza still keeps the crown. Do you remember Montoya touching 360 kph on the speed trap on his Williams BMW? THAT is speed.

    1. Yep. In 05 Pizzonia in his own BMW Williams hit 369.9 at the speed trap (so I’d assume his terminal speed was over 370 km/h). Insane speeds for a road course which is why they’ve limited engine capacities so much.

  14. I think the new Silverstone looks fantastic — fast and flowing. I’m really looking forward to the first race there.

  15. All I can say is that I love high-speed tracks.

  16. Keith this is a great, and original observation. Precisely the reason that this is the best F1 site on the web.

    Two thumbs up

  17. Top Expert Romain Grosjean has weighed in on the new circuit following the GT1 race: (via autosport)

    Others such as former Renault Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean believed the track not as good as its predecessor.

    “It’s nothing special,” said Grosjean – who raced on the previous track in GP2. “We have lost Bridge and the complex which was very nice and we didn’t gain much with the new part. I’m not a 100 per cent convinced.

    “With the single-seater cars they are flat-out through Abbey and in Formula 1 it is going to be very fast as well. I don’t think it gives any overtaking opportunities. So that’s a bit a shame.”


    And Grosjean knows a lot about going 100% and overtaking in an F1 car.

  18. I’m a little torn in that I want to see the cars at full speed to see what the new layout has to offer but I also want the rain to fall as we have seen sensational races when it falls. So, no rain for the practices and rain on race day please…

  19. The Limit
    3rd May 2010, 1:46

    I must admit, this new revised Silverstone race track has me really excited. As Keith pointed out quite rightly, the modern era has seen more circuits altered to slow cars down. The new, Tilke era arenas are a prime example, which are very technical but lack raw speed.
    If the new Silverstone is a success, I hope it will encourage F1 to switch its thinking towards its circuit designs, which will infact lead to faster racing.
    If that is the case, then in my opinion it will only inhance the sport as a spectacle. When you look at most opinion polls around asking F1 fans their favourite circuits, Silverstone-Spa-Monza are often towards the top of most fans’ lists, because of their speed and character. I find it all very positive, very positive indeed.

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