Top ten… Hermann Tilke corners |

Posted on Author Greg Morland

Korean Grand Prix track in Jeo

Guest writer Ned Flanders picks his ten favourite Hermann Tilke designed corners.

Hermann Tilke ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ Formula?óÔé¼Ôäós 1 circuit guru of the moment ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ is not one of the most popular figures in F1. But with over half of the 2010 calendar partially or entirely drawn up by Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós pen, it?óÔé¼Ôäós fair to say that modern Formula 1 has been well and truly Tilkefied.

In the build up to the debut of his latest creation, the Korean International Circuit, it?óÔé¼Ôäós worth reflecting on his achievements in Formula 1.

1. Jochen Rindt Kurve, A1 Ring, Austria (1997 ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ 2003)

A Ring, Austria

The A1 Ring ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ built on the site of the old Osterreichring during the mid 90s ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ was chosen to host the Austrian Grand Prix when it was reinstated to the F1 calendar in 1997, and did so a further six times until its demise in 2003. A simple configuration made up of short straights connected by just nine mainly low speed corners, it was the first high profile circuit to be designed by a German engineer named Hermann Tilke.

Unfortunately for Tilke, his creation was largely derided by fans and drivers alike. What had once been a fast, flowing circuit sweeping through the foothills of the Styrian Mountains had been reduced to a stop- start course which offered little challenge to the drivers.

However, the one saving grace of the A1 Ring was that it remained as undulating as its predecessor. This transformed the penultimate turn, the Jochen Rindt Kurve, from what might otherwise have been a fairly straightforward corner into a challenging downhill right hand swoop which would have been worthy of a spot on the original Osterreichring.

2. Turns one and two, Istanbul Park, Turkey

Honda, Istanbul Park, Turkey

Although many believe that Tilke designed racetracks are inferior to traditional circuits, one new venue which has been embraced by spectators is the Istanbul Park circuit in Turkey.

A circuit with elevation changes greater than almost any other on the calendar, Istanbul Park mixes the traditional Tilke elements of excellent facilities and safety features with a series of corners which both challenge the drivers and create overtaking opportunities.

Amongst the best corners on the track is the blind left- right at the beginning of the lap. The cars drop downhill into a medium speed left hander followed immediately by a flat out right hander, a sequence of turns reminiscent of the Senna S at Interlagos .

In the six previous Turkish Grands Prix, the complex has been the scene of a number of major incidents ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ most notably several first lap collisions and Lewis Hamilton?óÔé¼Ôäós manoeuvre on teammate Jenson Button in 2010.

3. Turns 12 and 13, Sepang, Malaysia

Another of Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós more popular creations is the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia. Located around 60km south of the country?óÔé¼Ôäós capital Kuala Lumpur, the circuit?óÔé¼Ôäós arrival in 1999 was the first of many increasingly extravagant venues on the F1 calendar.

When completed the facilities at Sepang were unprecedented, with huge grandstands catering for thousands of fans and garages which dwarfed those found at older racetracks.

It has since been usurped by other new venues in terms of the grandeur, but few modern courses can rival its driving challenge. The pick of its many fast, sweeping corners is probably the fast chicane at turns 12 and 13. Approached downhill at around 150mph, the sequence is taken flat out and, with turn 13 effectively acting as the braking zone for 14, it?óÔé¼Ôäós a challenging corner for the drivers.

4. 100R, Fuji, Japan (2007 ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ 2008)

When the Toyota owned Fuji circuit returned to the F1 calendar for the 2007 season, racing fans were up in arms ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ and not just at the loss of Suzuka which it had replaced. The redesigned Fuji Speedway was criticised as being one of the most sterile circuits in modern F1.

Tilke had been heavily constrained by the circuit owners. He was asked not only to keep the track layout as similar as possible to the previous circuit (which had hosted two Grand Prix?óÔé¼Ôäós in the 1970s) he was also asked to ensure Formula 1 lap times remained well over a minute in keeping with other modern circuits. Inevitably, since the original Fuji was little more than one long straight connected by a few sweeping bends, this proved difficult.

Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós unimaginative solution was to add a series of hairpins to the final sector of the circuit. Unsurprisingly, the new circuit went down like a lead balloon; Keith labelled it the worst in F1.

But Fuji does have at least one fan. Despite it?óÔé¼Ôäós undeniably sleep inducing final sector, I love the circuit for its incredible setting at the foot of Mount Fuji, its elevation changes and its history ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ Fuji was of course the setting for the first ever Grand Prix in Asia, and scene of James Hunt?óÔé¼Ôäós 1976 title triumph. With its long straight and ever present threat of rain, it also makes for great racing. And amongst its uninteresting first gear hairpins there are also a couple of excellent corners too. 100R, a long downhill right hander taken almost flat out, is probably the best of them.

5. Turns two to four, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi

Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi

In the United Arab Emirates, things are never done by half, and the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi is no exception. Built on an almost limitless budget, the circuit is located on Yas Island ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ a $36 billion tourist development reclaimed from the Persian Gulf ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ and features such novelties as an underground pit lane exit, a Grandstand built above the run-off area and a harbour front section designed to replicate the streets of Monte Carlo.

Whether this ?óÔé¼?£money no object?óÔé¼Ôäó attitude to building racetracks is good or not, Yas Marina is the most soulless of all the Grand Prix venues, and the $1.3 billion lavished on the circuit by the Abu Dhabi authorities could have been put to far better use.

However circuit officials did ensure some of the expense was put towards creating a memorable circuit. On an otherwise flat island, a manmade hill was created to add some variety to the circuit, transforming turn two to four into an Eau Rouge-esque sweeper. Approached at almost 160mph, the corner is taken comfortably flat out in low fuel conditions and as such is not hugely challenging for drivers, yet the sight of Formula 1 cars hurtling downhill through the kink of turn four in particular is impressive.

6. Turns five to seven, Sakhir, Bahrain (2004 ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ 2009)

It?óÔé¼Ôäós easy to forget that before it was extended in 2010, the Bahrain International Circuit was considered a decent circuit, certainly one of Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós best efforts. A mix of long straights and a range of low and high speed corners, Sakhir was seen as a test of both driver and car.

Arguably the best corner on the circuit was the S bend made up of turns five, six and seven. Approached in fifth gear, the track bends left before suddenly veering right into a tighter corner, and then sweeping left again through the flat out, downhill of turn seven.

However, the corner was neutered by the introduction of the ?óÔé¼?£endurance loop?óÔé¼Ôäó. Located between turn four and what was previously turn 5, the extension rendered the S bend little more than a comfortable flat out acceleration zone. Circuit officials had claimed the new layout would offer ?óÔé¼?ôa new challenge and new overtaking opportunities?óÔé¼?Ø, and organisers have now revealed that next year?óÔé¼Ôäós race will take place in the original layout which has hosted the Grand Prix since 2004

7. Turn 14, Shanghai, China

The Shanghai International Circuit is one of Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós most grandiose creations. Costing almost half a billion dollars to construct, the 3.4 mile track is dwarfed by the vast architecture which surrounds it, particularly the towering main grandstand.

Shanghai International Circuit aerial map

The track layout itself is not one of Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós best, made up of several seemingly perpetual sweepers and long straights. But driving challenge is not the only criteria on which a corner should be judged. Tilke?óÔé¼Ôäós main aim when designing circuits is to provide overtaking opportunities and no corner provides as good a passing place as Shanghai?óÔé¼Ôäós turn 14.

As a test of drivers?óÔé¼Ôäó speed, the corner is inconsequential; but as a test of the drivers?óÔé¼Ôäó racecraft it?óÔé¼Ôäós as good as any. A tight hairpin situated at the end of a kilometre long straight, it?óÔé¼Ôäós been the scene of countless moments of excitement in the Chinese Grand Prix?óÔé¼Ôäós seven year history; from Michael Schumacher?óÔé¼Ôäós hounding of the Renault?óÔé¼Ôäós in 2006 to Sebastian Vettel?óÔé¼Ôäós pass for the lead on Jenson Button in 2009, and more recently Sebastien Buemi?óÔé¼Ôäós spectacular suspension failure in 2010.

8. Turns 18 and 19, Valencia Street Circuit, Spain

The Valencia Street Circuit is undoubtedly the most derided of all the Tilkedromes. Announced in 2007 off the back of soaring Spanish interest in F1, the circuit was seen by the Valencia authorities as a means of attracting tourists to the city and rejuvenating the dock area where the track is located.

However, poor crowd figures, tedious races and the venue?óÔé¼Ôäós reputation as a poor man?óÔé¼Ôäós Monaco mean that Valencia has become the circuit everyone loves to hate.

The layout itself is also largely uninspiring, yet it does have its points of interest. The final sector of the lap, a flat out blast through a series of kinks from turn 17 to 25, may not be hugely challenging for the drivers, but it makes for spectacular TV footage as the cars hurtle between the concrete walls at almost 200mph. The high speed left-right chicane that makes up turns 18 and 19 is the pick.

9. Turn 8, Istanbul Park, Turkey

Istanbul Park?óÔé¼Ôäós thrilling turn eight is widely agreed to be not only the most spectacular corner ever designed by Tilke, but also one of the best corner?óÔé¼Ôäós on the F1 calendar. An undulating left-hander consisting of four separate apexes, turn eight?óÔé¼Ôäós challenge is enhanced further by its jarring bumps; an almost unique characteristic not only of Tilke-designed venues but of all modern F1 tracks.

The statistics alone are incredible. From entrance to exit, turn eight is roughly 600m long and takes around 8 seconds to navigate, making it the longest corner on the calendar. Drivers experience G forces of up to 5.2g, with the strain averaging 4.3g over the 8 seconds. The quickest cars are able to take the corner at an average speed of 160mph, often gaining several tenths of a second on downforce deficient rivals.

Turn eight never fails to catch the unprepared, although its vast tarmac run off ensures few drivers ever make it as far as the barriers. In Istanbul?óÔé¼Ôäós inaugural event in 2005, the corner caused havoc for several drivers during qualifying, while it cost Juan Pablo Montoya second place. The following year, it was Michael Schumacher who was caught out, losing valuable time in his pursuit of Fernando Alonso.

10. Final turn, Korean International Circuit

Little is known about the latest circuit to be introduced to the Formula 1 calendar, the Korean International Circuit in South Jeolla province. But the track layout displays some promise ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ including the unusual final corner.

Over to you

For all his flaws I believe Hermann Tilke deserves more credit than he gets for his F1 circuits. Despite working under some extremely restrictive regulations, he?óÔé¼Ôäós managed to design some excellent corners, whether they be challenging for drivers, spectacular for spectators and TV viewers or conducive to overtaking.

But this is your chance to put me right. Do you feel Hermann Tilke has done more harm than good to F1? Is racing better at traditional circuits than Tilkedromes? Or are there any other corners or circuits designed by Tilke that deserve a mention? Let us know your opinion below.

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112 comments on “Top ten… Hermann Tilke corners |”

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  1. Onboard lap of Korean GP from F1 2010 shows kind of what it’ll look like…

    1. Nice find!

      the Pit entry looks brilliantly fast, but Ill reserve judgement on the rest until sfter race day.

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      22nd August 2010, 23:50

      Doesn’t look too bad. Sure, it’s twisty and turny, but the top half looks like a bit of a roller-coaster and I love the street circuit feel. It also very much looks like it’s one big arena; there’s maybe one point around the circuit – turn four – that is open and you can see the backdrop. The half-finished look is also pretty good, too.

    3. doesn’t look like too bad a track from the video, but then again I was horribly impaired by the shocking driving. e.g. the final sequence of corners look very fast but difficult according to that driver, but maybe it’ll be easy-flat like Eau Rouge is (while still not being flat-out for bad simulator drivers).

  2. The sri lankan
    22nd August 2010, 23:49

    Keith on fuji circuit “the new circuit went down like a lead balloon; Keith labelled it the worst in F1.”

    Keith this is your Opinion. no one really cares. i have noted your blind hate towards everything Toyota. ill take this with a grain of salt too.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      22nd August 2010, 23:54

      I don’t think Keith hated it because it’s Toyota. I think he hated it because:

      a) It corrupted the legendary Fuji circuit
      b) The back half was filled with excruciatingly tight turns that were equally painful and pointless
      c) The whole thing looked like it was in the middle of a car park
      d) It never produced a good race

      1. I kind of agree to your point B but disagree with all others.

        a) The old Fuji was too dangerous and cannot be raced on in these safety concerned times. Why don’t we hate Spa, Silverstone, Nurburgring and all other circuits that aren’t the same as they used to be?

        c) Actually the scenery was one of the best things about Fuji, what with that little known mountain in the background ;). Not once did I think it was in the middle of a carpark.

        d)I thought both races there were pretty decent to say the very least.

        In summary, I don’t agree with Keith’s opinion that it’s the worst of Tilke’s circuits and if it’s because of the reasons you’ve mentioned then even more so.

        1. Prisoner Monkeys
          23rd August 2010, 12:43

          a) Dangerous, yes. But also awesome. Suzuka shouldn’t have lost the Grand Prix and Fuji should never have been touched.

          c) I’m not talking about the backdrop. When you could see it – and you often couldn’t because of the torrential rain – Mount Fuji was awesome. But I’m talking about the acres of tarmac run-off that line the circuit on all sides.

          1. a)I agree that Suzuka is better. But if Fuji wouldn’t have been touched then no racing there would be possible at all so it’s the lesser evil IMO.

            c)And which new circuit doesn’t have those asphalt run-offs nowadays? The Arena section in Silverstone is full of them on all sides. Abu Dhabi feels a lot more like carpark to me, espesially with that underground pit exit :)

          2. Prisoner Monkeys
            23rd August 2010, 13:40

            Tarmac run-off they might have, but there’s probably more tarmac in the run-off than the actual circuit at Fuji.

        2. The sri lankan
          24th August 2010, 4:15

          Alex….yes the Old Fuji is dangerous, but nowhere near as dangerous as suzuka now-days. dont get me wrong even if i dislike Honda i love suzuka as a circuit. but its unfair to call it safe and the old Fuji unsafe. some sections of suzuka like the Dunlop, Degner 130R etc…its almost tight like Monaco at some sections except with higher speeds

          1. In Suzuka there’s lots of run-off nowadays, even at 130R which btw is but a shadow of the great corner it once was. At Dunlop there’s a big gravel trap and a very wide tyre-wall which was already in place in the mid-nineties. Same at Degner curves. Honestly I don’t know where it’s so tight so as to be compared with Monaco. Only the version with no Casio triangle was dangerous for cars. For bikes it’s dangerous yes

    2. Actually this piece was written by Ned Flanders, who in turn quoted Keith.

      And I think I can safely vouch for Keith – he does not hate Toyota or any other team/manufacturer.

      1. Agree with PM on the last section of the circuit is like the pain.

    3. I think you misread that, it is: Ned on fuji circuit “the new circuit went down like a lead balloon; Keith labelled it the worst in F1”. And Keith is well known on this site as being the one who mostly writes it, and usually has an interesting opinion. Of course, at the time, we hadn’t seen Singapore, Valencia, or Abu Dhabi, so maybe now his opinion has changed.

      I found the circuit rather boring too – even more so due to the spectacular mount Fuji in the background, to be honest. And Toyota has managed to inconsistently disappoint me severely during their time in F1, with occasional glimpses of brilliance usually squandered quickly.

  3. I do feel that Tilke gets a lot of criticism not all of which is deserved. He has done some good tracks and the worst tracks are normally in places that are very flat and that makes it harder for an interesting track. The problem I have is that just one guy is designing the tracks meaning I’m not sure if it’s his fault or the rules.

    I would like to see someone else in charge of making an F1 circuit than one person having a monopoly on circuit design.

  4. i believe lewis hamilton made an super circuit, why not start from that..

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      23rd August 2010, 2:18

      Because it was just cutting and pasting corners from other circuits. There wasn’t a single original idea in it.

  5. What can I say. In Texas they talk with a revolver under the table. He cannot mess up in Texas or they will make a rug out of him.

  6. Prisoner Monkeys
    23rd August 2010, 2:32

    Watching the video of the Korean circuit in F1 2010 again, I have to say that it could be quite promising. It clearly looks like it’s been designed so that certain cars will favour certain sections – or, alternately, teams will be forced to compromise their setups to be a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.

  7. I have to say that racing better at some traditional circuits than Tilkedromes. Yes he have constructed some great track (Malaysia,Turkey) but I still think that he could have done something better then the job he is doing.

    Bahrain & Turkey were unique but other than that I find all other circuits that were made by him were similar to one way to the other like Malaysia.

    Another thing is that the FIA should change the the rules for circuit design, OK you got to give safety priority but don’t make boring racing circuit like the one in Dubai. It may have produced some good racing in 2009 but over a lap it is boring.

    1. The last section of the circuit runs with some buildings around it, some lucky f1 fans will have their apartment there.

  8. The presentation shows one of the problems with new circuits (and by default Tilke circuits). There was a heavy emphasis on the buildings surrounding the track. These emerging countries are building such racetracks to prove how well developed they are, so they better make sure that everyone in F1 is kept comfortable in air conditioned buildings. They can’t have people thinking that they are definitely in a steamy Korean summer, that would leave a bad impression. The emphasis is on how good the facilities are, not on how boring the track is.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      23rd August 2010, 8:29

      As I said on the last page – it’s a corporate video. The organisers were attempting to use it to lure commercial partners for the race and the circuit. It’s not actually meant for us, but it seems to have been leaked onto the internet and they didn’t both making up another one since we already now what the circuit will be like.

  9. Nice write up, Ned. For me the problem with Tilke is not any one particular track, per se – it’s the lack of variety, both in terms of the type (and I use the singular intentionally) of circuit he designs and by the very fact that he is the only designer brought in to lay out new venues. He is constrained by set limitations, but certainly another vision, or preferably visions, of what a track may look like within the same limitations would inject some life into F1 circuit design. I don’t think others would automatically come up with better things than Tilke, just different. The way things stand, the modern tracks are all just variations on one theme: a circuit that has a bit of everything. This has been discussed before, but seems to me that the Tilke part of the calendar would greatly benefit from less compromise, that is, from less variety at each track in exchange for more variety among the tracks – tracks that put a particular emphasis on particular aspects of car performance or driver ability.

  10. Yeah, he’s had some good corners, but look at the tracks he hasn’t made, They blow him away, not only that, but older tracks aren’t just about one corner, the whole track is important. I think this could be a problem of Tilke’s tracks.

    Istanbul’s Turn 8 doesn’t make up for Shanghai does it?

    Monaco held it’s first race in 1929, Tilke’s tracks aren’t 81 years better.

    1. Why couldn’t he build a tunnel, But like an aquarium have very strong very VERY thick see through material where spectators can watch from above?

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        23rd August 2010, 12:46

        ook at the tracks he hasn’t made, They blow him away


        Why couldn’t he build a tunnel, But like an aquarium have very strong very VERY thick see through material where spectators can watch from above?
        Because it would be dangerous. What do you think would happen if there was an accident in the tunnel? There would be no way for the marshalls to access the crash immediately.

        1. Barcelona is one boring circuit, How many has Tilke built now?

          Anyway… Barcelona is not too bad in Tilke terms, I’d take it over Valencia any day. at least it’s green.

          Actually the bit about the aquarium tunnel was sarcasm… I was trying to say he should be more original rather than building all his tracks from the same formula.

          Manu: Your right, that idea is in a game….. so it’s not really original anyway :/

      2. Maybe because Formula One is not a video game? :d

  11. Great article Ned.

  12. Another F1 2010 video offering a better view of the Korean track:

    It doesn’t look that bad, but nothing special either.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      24th August 2010, 15:27

      I don’t know … there’s clearly some kind of banking in that first corner. And maybe it’s just the driver, but the section across the top of the circuit is looking pretty wild. And, of course, there’s the labyrinthe last few bends that look like they’re quite difficult to memorise at speed.

  13. Nicely done Ned; with all the Tilke-hating we constantly read (and not just here) it’s difficult to appreciate WHY he continues to get these contracts.

    1. The guy is a contractor as well as a circuit designer. He not only designs the circuits but agrees to get them built on time and within budget. He must be successful on those scores as he keeps getting new work.
    2. He also is an architect. As much as we focus on the track and the relative merits of each circuit he designs, creating a new track from nothing is a massive architectural-engineering feat. Just the infrastructure design alone can be a daunting task. So I have to believe his team of subconsultants are all well versed in their particular specialties. His buildings and support structures are unquestionably well done.

    And yes, I’m an architect, so I know a wee bit of what I speak of. Not much, but a bit :)

  14. got to be turn 8 turkey

  15. haha i didnt knew A1 was a tilke creation. i always thought sepang was tilke first. no wonder i struggle quite a lot in A1 when i play the old F1 game last time (1999 i think) especially the 1st 2nd corner i tend 2 go so wide easily. lolz. good old days man. s 4 after sepang launching, yeah, tilke other tracks is boring since then. i cant remember any other exciting races in tilke track better than sepang 2002. so sepang 2002 still stands s the best race ever in a tilke track.

  16. Hermann Tilke is the one responsable for the most boring Formula’s 1 circuit. My personal view is if Tilke design circuit where not involved, Formula 1 will be much more interesting, overtaken and more. You can appreciatte the diference on circuit like SPA or Monza.

  17. After playing F1 2010 at Yeongam yesterday, I think the undulating left- right S bend (turns 7- 8) would be deserving of a place on the list. It’s an excellent corner to drive

    1. Haha my 8 turned into a smiley!!

  18. Turn 8 of Turkey is the best Tilke corner ever.

    There isn’t even any debate.

    It should fill all 10 spots on the list.

  19. i have put all but two of these corners (Plus some of my own and some others of other f1 tracks to make a Tilke super track but i want to now how to put it on here? anyone no how?

    1. Nice idea… try or if you have Twitter. Then perhaps put the link on the round up or on the Forum so everyone gets a chance to see it :)

  20. i have put all but two of these corners (Plus some of my own and some others of other f1 tracks) to make a Tilke super track but i want to now how to put it on here? anyone no how?

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