Will Monza lose “fastest track” crown?

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

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

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

    Two thumbs up

  2. Hairs said on 1st May 2010, 17:06

    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.

  3. Chaz said on 2nd May 2010, 8:24

    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…

  4. The Limit said on 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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