Buddh International Circuit

India’s F1 track: Another cookie-cutter circuit?

2011 Indian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Buddh International Circuit
Buddh International Circuit

Straight, hairpin, straight, hairpin. Twiddly bit and back around again for another lap.

It was Korea last and it’s India next: the scenery changes but the tracks don’t.

Does the Buddh International Circuit, scene of the first ever Indian Grand Prix this weekend, offer anything to distinguish itself on F1’s increasingly homogeneous calendar?

Last week Sebastian Vettel raised the prospect of India’s circuit being one of the quickest in F1.

Red Bull’s simulator indicated an average lap speed of 235kph, suggesting a lap time of around 1’18. But tyre manufacturer Pirelli’s predictions are rather more conservative, estimating a 1’27 lap with an average speed of around 210kph.

Based on Pirelli’s estimates, here’s how the Buddh International Circuit compares with the other 19 circuits on the original 2011 calendar:

Lap length

2011 F1 circuit length
2011 F1 circuit length

Lap time

2011 F1 circuits lap times
2011 F1 circuits lap times

Indian Grand Prix lap time based on estimate by Pirelli

Average speed

2011 F1 circuits average speeds
2011 F1 circuits average speeds

Indian Grand Prix average speed based on estimate by Pirelli

Maximum speed

2011 F1 circuits maximum speeds
2011 F1 circuits maximum speeds

Indian Grand Prix maximum speed based on estimate by Pirelli

Number of corners

2011 F1 circuits number of corners
2011 F1 circuits number of corners

On the face of it the Buddh International Circuit looks entirely typical of modern F1 tracks: roughly five kilometres in length with the usual combination of long straights leading into slow hairpins, plus some medium-speed corners.

Its layout has much in common with other recent additions to the calendar such as Yas Marina, Korea, Istanbul and Bahrain. This is not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Without wishing to judge the track before it’s even held a race, it’s impossible to ignore the conspicuous lack of imagination in modern F1 track design – whether you choose to blame ubiquitous designer Hermann Tilke, or the safety and commercial restrictions he is constrained by.

We see far too much of circuits that “have a bit of everything” and, consequently, have nothing that marks themselves out from other new tracks. As the graphs above make clear, it’s the classic old venues such as Monza, Spa and Monaco that provide the extremes on an otherwise increasingly homogeneous calendar.

But this will matter little if the Buddh International Circuit provides exciting race. We’ll find out if it can on Sunday.

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140 comments on “India’s F1 track: Another cookie-cutter circuit?”

  1. You haven’t mentioned elevation changes?
    If you watch the RedBull videos of the circuit, they make a statement about the elevation changes and how it changes the circuit. Looking at it in 2-D it does look quite boring.

    1. Have a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkpp_r7GQRM

      Bear in mind it’s in Time Trial mode (where the track is perfect and all simulation options are off) and the fact that the game’s a few seconds faster than reality anyways, so the laptime won’t equate well to this weekend, but the elevation change is there :)

      1. It looks like a beautifully flowing track if that’s anything to go by. A few really challenging braking zones up and downhill.

        I do however agree with Keith’s general point about Tilke tracks trying to include everything and therefore not standing out from the crowd… I kind of ‘design by committee’ effect if you will. However, this track doesn’t seem to have a point and squirt silly chicane, so I think it might actually stand out more than the graphs seem to indicate.

      2. Looks promising, as you say it seems to flow well. Reminds me of Sepang – even the twiddly bits out the back look fast, and there are one or two corners that sneak up on you – but with undulations more like the Nurburgring.

        1. That was the first thing that popped into my head as well. If it had to be like other modern tracks you could get worse than being similar to Sepang. I am a little worried that DRS passes will be all you see however I’ll reserve judgement until I see the race.

      3. love the graphics…not sure they’ve got the view out of the Mclarens wing mirrors quite right though….I’m sure Lewis said they vibrate a little more than that on the straights

        perhaps its something they can work on for F12012

        1. After watching the video I think it will be a good track. It definitely has a good flow to it, which is highly important and the elevation changes are nice. The blind, uphill right hander at the beginning of the circuit is fantastic, so is the double apex one near the end!!

          1. That blind, uphill right hander is a rip off of the Spielbergring in Austria.

      4. My F12011 experience leads me to believe that 1:15 is 10-15 seconds away from reality at least. F12011 tends to exagerate straight line speeds.

      5. After watching that I think that average lap times will be about 1:25ish.

    2. You haven’t mentioned elevation changes?

      Indeed. It’s almost constantly going up and down.

    3. From the pictures of the track that were posted last week, it really does have interesting terrain below it. But it really seems the rest is pretty much standart Tilke, from the “turn 8-lookalike” he came to fancy lately, to the straights looking like Korea in reverse a bit.

      I certainly hope the track will be enough of a challenge for drivers to make them really take to it and the hundreds of thousends of fans making it a great festival of motorsport, if they really turn up as expected from ticket sales.

      1. I think the circuit may have been created to encourage drivers to pressue one another. The four long straights are going to need minimal downforce, which is going to hurt on the second half of the circuit. Between the constant undulations, the weaving corners and the dirty surface off-line, it’s going to be tricky to string together fast laps consistently. And when you’ve got another driver bearing down on you, it’s going to be that much harder.

      2. Maybe India can become the best track of the Tilkedromes, and maybe we should remove the other tracks rather than this?

        1. @Fixy I say Valencia goes first, despite being one of Bernie’s favorites :)

          1. @scuderiavincero we know Valencia is on the calendar only because it brings good money and many fans, not because of the exciting races.
            Of course we have many Tilkedromes, but maybe we should remove the most boring ones in favour of some better ones (which I hope Buddh is). It would be even better to have unique tracks such as Monza, Monte-Carlo and Spa, but that’s unlikely to happen.

        2. @Fixy I’m sure the fans there would enjoy it more if the races were better, wouldn’t you agree? A question though, which of the Tilkedromes would you have removed from the calendar? (please don’t say Sepang, please don’t say Sepang, please don’t say Sepang, I’m begging you, please don’t say Sepang) :P

          I’m with you on Buddh being one of the better tracks Hermann Tilke has produced. Even the Austin track looks promising as well (from my point of view, anyway).

          1. @scuderiavincero I don’t know! I’m just saying Valencia is horrible, and for the races there to be entertaining there should be a Spa circuit somewhere ;)
            I’m not even going to say Buddh is nice, but I hope so as it looks so! Hopefully by the end of the week we will know.

        3. @Fixy Well I’m not about to disagree with you on Valencia :) Here’s to a good race in India! :)

      3. It definitely looks nice. I am relieved to see the elevation changes, not enough tracks focus on that.

        I’d like to see future track designs have a greater emphasis on elevation changes, and high speed corners, they are what truly make a race awesome to watch. I am glad to see India has a little of both!

    4. With all undulations, it seems reasonable circuit..for me the long straight is spoilsport. It just takes away sheen from circuit. Second sector will be quite challenging & many drivers might be caught out in that. It would be pretty diff to do consistent sector times in that as margin for error is very minimal. Probably it seems tilke might have so many challenges.. it seems BIC owners wanted it in as compact space as possible considering they are going to develop it as commercial housing estate, so probably i.e reason it is not as wide as many new circuits.

      In the end it is the people who visit circuit makes it special rather than just design of circuit. For me they are only two standout tracks Spa & Suzuka. Rest are not that great tracks but popular/exists for some reasons. Monza, Monaco, Silverstone, Interlagos (fans atmosphere makes it special), Singapore (night race.. just think how it feels to watch it in day time..) , abu dhabi, Baharain, china, valencia (money matters) etc.

      So hopefully india & indians embrace formula 1.

  2. In F1 2011 the faster drivers can take a lap at 1.21.
    Given that the game is 3-4 seconds faster than reality I expect 1.24 to be a rough laptime estimate.

    1. Right in the middle between the estimates made by Pirelli and Red Bull then @pjtierney!

      1. I wonder how much of that is Red Bull playing games with the other teams. 10 seconds difference in predictions over an 80ish second lap is pretty big. I doubt they’d be giving away any info to the other teams for free. I suppose until the cars actually run on the track in anger it’s all academic.

  3. Holy mother… it makes Hungaroring look like the most exciting track on earth!!!!

    I’d rather like more 70 procession laps around Imola. At last, I’d have 70 sights of the place where Senna died… I’m really tired of those Tilkedromes, laking of a single piece of creativity….

    1. It’s funny actually. I was playing Forza Motorsport 4 online yesterday with some Americans and Hockenheim came up. Although these guys had no real knowledge of F1 they said right away that the final few corners (the stadium section) was great but the rest of the track (which Tilke redesigned) was “like a kid took out a piece of paper and scrawled a crayon across it”. :)

      1. And I can’t forget the classic track, do you remember? As fast as Monza, with two chicanes in the middle of both straights to slow down a bit the cars, running between trees and a piece of an inverse parabolic in the opposite side of the stadium…. That was fantastic to watch, even better than Monza because cars struggle at the stadium with low downforce setups, and you could catch the real driver managing the weight of the car and the grip….

        Then came Tilke and it was all gone…

        1. Well, to pre-empt @prisoner-monkeys, it was not Tilke’s choice to cut that glorious bit of track, it was money, and perceived safety with the trees keeping the track wet and the high speeds. I do still think that it should have been better to create something more exciting that we got, but the shortening and available ground to work with were a given for Tilke.

          1. There was also the security issue, as literally anybody could walk into the woods and come out on the racetrack, like one disgruntled former Mercedes employee did in (I think) 2001.

          2. Speaking of the surrounding woods, the circuit owners did not actually own any of it, so they could not build on it.

      2. Funny you mention those Americans @pjtierney, when they will get a bit of a remake of that fiddley bit in the new Austin track as well (the worst part of that track, in my opinion)!

    2. At last, I’d have 70 sights of the place where Senna died

      That’s a bid morbid. I know I’m not looking forward to next year’s Malaysian Grand Prix, because it means I’ll see the place Marco Simoncelli died about fifty or sixty times. Tamburello is not a tourist attraction – and it has little resemblance today too its 1994 self.

      1. Come on, I named Imola just to show a place where a single processional race is much more significant that a Tilkodromic festival around a meaningless track. Place where Senna died is there to be sanctified, nothing less.

        It’s as morbid as Spa or Monza, full of places where some racer died. I. e., Von Trips, or Ronnie Peterson at Monza entering the parabolica….

        1. @architrion, I do think I get what you mean about rather seeing whatever laps on a classic track than a “fesitval” on the Tilkedromes.
          But the mention of 94 Imola was not really the best chosen, especially with recent deaths of Simoncelli and Wheldon.

          Not to mention, another factor against the Tilkedromes is actually they more often than not do not give us any festival of racing at all, but rather a look at a skyline, hotel, pitbuilding, grandstand, etc. with a racetrack running around it that shows itself to be less ideal for overtaking than planned.

          But Imola really would not be my first choice for a track to bring back, as it really is too dangerous without the changes and not much good with the changes. Better to keep it in memory for the good races then let that memory be tainted.

    3. John Bergqvist (@)
      31st January 2012, 10:15

      Ratzenberger died at that track too you know…

  4. if you’d drove the track on f1 2011 before writing this (which i guess you didn’t) you’d see it has loads to offer! it’s a brilliant track with lots of different types of corners, i love it personally.

    1. On the contrary
      24th October 2011, 15:03

      There are scandal lovers posing as F1 fans and then there are bloggers posing as journalists. Both have license to shoot from the hip. Why will they let go of that privilege.

      We have biases against new venues and we will do everything to bad mouth them every time we speak.

  5. First of all, I hate the term ‘cookie cutter’!

    I would like to ressurect the old saying that there are lies, damned lies and statistics. By that I mean that all the above charts and stats make the track seem pretty rubbish, but in reality it actually looks a decent circuit with a fair bit of gradient and some challenging corners.

    However, I do take the point, and I would love if Tilke for once thought outside the box. Can’t he ever design a circuit with a crossover? One with only a handful of corners and a short lap like the A1 Ring? One with a straight that ends in a fast corner rather than a slow hairpin? As restrictive as the FIA regulations may be, I’m sure there is still plenty of room for innovation

    1. I have seen quite a few very interesting cookie cutter shapes @ned-flanders :)

      From the video someone posted above of a lap on F1 2011, the track looks pretty nice, elevation changes etc. which shows that with those same elements, and a good patch of land, you can get far in creating a nice to drive track, if you put in the effort.

      But like you I still would have liked to see an extra bit of effort put in to think on how to be more inventive within the regulations.

    2. I like the idea of a bonus cookie with my Suzuka cutter.

    3. @ned-flanders I agree with you, there needs to be variety. I loved the A1-Ring, the races there were interesting, and it was always great fun to race on Grand Prix 4. Lots of elevation but so few corners and a short lap, it really was something different.

      I still refuse to judge a track before it’s been raced on, so I’ll reserve judgement for a week’s time, but on paper it does look to be very formulaic.

      At least we still have modern tracks that break the mold. Barber Motorsport Park in the US (Where IndyCar race – an entertaining, winding, undulating and narrow track) and Potrero de los Funes in Argentina (Where the GT1 cars will race in a few weeks, up and down winding mountain roads followed by a fast blast round a lake) to name a couple.

      1. Barber really is a wild ride from what I’ve driven in iRacing. I love the layout! But I will go with what a lot of people say and attest to the difficulty it has in passing opportunities. As awesome as it would be to see F1 cars driving on it, I fear the races would be pretty dull.

        1. @Joey-Poey yeah, if I ever go back to iRacing and spend extra money on it, Barber is what I would buy first.

    4. @ned-flanders
      A cookie cutter wouldn’t work properly if it had a crossover anyway… So perhaps a cross-over circuit is the answer to less generic tracks.

      I seriously agree though, something with a really long or really short (preferable for spectators) lap length and some more inspired layouts would be great, although I still think India, although generic at first glance, will be promising and that Austin may well be the same.

        1. Keith take note. Those bad boys would fund f1fanatic for years to come. Think of the manufacturing effiency of all those constant radii corners!

          1. I am officially changing my dissertation so I have an excuse to manufacture these myself.

          2. @john-h @matt90 I’ll buy a set from whomever makes them! Sounds like a hit product for the holiday season!

          3. The cookies will be just the thing to go with an F1Fanatic mug of coffee, when you’ve just got up at stupid o’clock to watch a race on one of these tracks…

  6. reddevilandy10
    24th October 2011, 12:29

    There are those circuits that completely have to to be there: Silverstone, Interlagos, Spa, Monza, Monte Carlo, Montreal, Suzuka and perhaps Melbourne… but the other tracks are just nothing special. Yeah, Hangaroring is a challenge in its own right too… but these are the only tracks left with a real history. I cried the day I heard Tilke was to butcher the old Hockenheim. It was one of the worst moments in my motorsport fanhood.

    I just hope this track has something different… elevation changes is probably the most promising aspect.

    1. I cried the day I heard Tilke was to butcher the old Hockenheim. It was one of the worst moments in my motorsport fanhood.

      The old Hockenheim was unsafe and unfeasible, and given its shape, there was very little that could be done when it had to be rebuilt.

      It was also very over-rated. As Martin Brundle said during last year’s race, it was just plain boring.

      1. Brundle says a lot of weird stuff.

      2. Last year’s race was plain boring. The old Hockenheim provided some variety on the calendar due to its high speed nature. Now, it’s not terrible, but it’s like any other track.

        1. I find it way too short to begin with…

    2. speaking of Interlagos, 21 corners?? really?

      1. @Jake I think it is 15 corners, http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/f1-information/going-to-a-race/autodromo-jose-carlos-pace-carlos-pace-interlagos-circuit-information/ according to Weber and the video :-), something might be wrong with the bar chart data.

      2. @jake The figures for Yas Marina and Interlagos were switched – they’ve been changed now.

  7. Monaco is all about it’s setting, nothing more.

    1. You’re wrong.

      Casino Square. Swimming Pool.

      Nuff said :)

    2. Monaco’s setting is that of the most challenging, unforgiving circuit on the calendar.

        1. You need it explained to you? I’m not sure if I can take you seriously, but here’s the opinions of five former Monaco winners:

          “It’s always a strange contrast going from a circuit like Barcelona, which is fast, open and flowing, then arriving a few days later at Monaco – which is the slowest, tightest and toughest track on the calendar.” – Jenson Button

          “Monaco is a unique race and one that is challenging, slightly chaotic and a bit mad, for the drivers and all the teams.” – Jarno Trulli

          “It’s remarkable to drive an F1 car around Monaco, it’s a completely unique track and a unique challenge for the driver. You have to push as hard as on a normal race track, but the smallest mistake can bring a big penalty.” – Sebastian Vettel

          “It’s clearly a demanding street circuit, which requires incredible concentration and composure for the drivers throughout the weekend” – Mark Webber

          “I love Monaco, it’s a race I remember watching when I was a kid and it’s a place that really showcases Formula One at its very best: racing flat-out against around the toughest and greatest circuit in the world.” – Lewis Hamilton


          1. Suzuka is still the drivers NO.1 favourite track to drive on though.

          2. “Favourite” and challenging = 2 different things.

          3. Oh i forgot that Suzuka is also the most challenging, even drivers will admit no other circuit punishes mistakes like Suzuka.

            It’s no secret, teams and drivers rate Suzuka to be the greatest track on the F1 calendar.

          4. drivers rate it their favourite because it is so challenging, they like tracks to challenge them and Suzuka does it very well.

          5. Actually, Suzuka is often cited as a “driver track” like Monaco and Spa. Sure, it is one of the driver favourites, if not the favourite of the drivers.

            But as I cited above, and as the style of the circuit clearly dictates, Monaco is even more punishing. A far cry from being “all about its setting, nothing more”.

          6. I’m on @David-A ‘s side with this one. Monaco’s a great challenge, has more history and tradition than quite a few historic circuits put together and it forces the teams and drivers out of their comfort zones. I love it.

          7. ‘even drivers will admit no other circuit punishes mistakes like Suzuka.’

            I don’t see how this can be in any way true if you’re bearing in mind Monaco, a race where a mistake will almost certainly mean a crash, which will almost certainly mean retirement. In Suzuka the speed is higher, but there is run-off, and it is wider and less bumpy.

          8. Well it’s all good to have personal views but drivers and teams certainly know what Suzuka is about.They’re the ones driving on it not us.

            As Fernando and Martin have recently stated again what everyone team/drivers know, Suzuka is the greatest track on the F1 calendar.

            Even if Suzuka was alot more bumpy it wouldn’t make it greater and the run-off areas are there for safety because you can generate so much speed drivers need it.

          9. As for comfort zones, Suzuka separates the men from the boys.

          10. I’m not saying whether Suzuka or Monaco is ‘greater,’ I’m saying that Monaco is more unforgiving because it has walls lining the track if for no other reason. If you go off at Suzuka, you might be able to continue racing, if you ‘go off’ at Monaco, you crash out. Therefore Monaco punishes mistakes more. Suzuka may well be a better circuit in people’s opinion, but that Monaco punishes mistakes more is fact. Although I agree that which one is most challenging is at least debatable.

        2. This is not people’s opinion as i have said twice.

          It is the fact that teams/drivers rate and love Suzuka to be the greatest track on the F1 calendar, they say it themself.

          They are the ones driving on it, not us.

          1. Drivers “rate” circuits if they are challenging so go figure!

          2. And as I only need to do once, I have verified my claims by quoting the opinions of various F1 drivers to prove that Monaco is rated as a significant challenge. You have not done the same. What I did is prove that Monaco is about more than a glamorous “setting” as you implied.

          3. However, Suzuka is still a challenging circuit in its own right.

    3. I have played F1 games ever since I was a kid.

      There is not one track I enjoy over Monaco.

      1. Really? I hate Monaco in F1 2010/11, but I love the actual race. It might be that I’m not very good, although I like to think that I just can’t spare the time to master it. I always crash out deliberately! I can do ok on all the others without driver aids but even with them all on I’m just not competitive there.

    4. Sure, in Monaco the setting is very important. But in my view, the most important is for the drivers to be challenged to get it exactly right, close to the barriers to press out a stunning lap, without crashing. And doing that for 270 km!

      That makes it a real challenge for the drivers.

    5. On the contrary
      24th October 2011, 15:06

      The holy grail for all F1 fans the Rascasse corner :)

  8. is the circuit being slagged off because it’s a tilke? i think it looks quite interesting, with the ‘twiddly’ section looking like it could be quick and flowing.
    i’m not a fan of bookending straights with hairpins, however the corner after the 1.2k straight is fairly open, with the next straight leading into what looks like a fairly fast corner, leading into a technical section. the corner marked 2 on the image looks like it’ll punish mistakes with its double apex.
    get rid of the straights and you end up with a single racing line with very few overtaking opportunities.
    i may be proven wrong, but to me, it looks like it has potential.

    i suppose we could always just go for an oval as per indycar? shame there’s no emoticon for sarcasm ;-)

    1. I think you found it, I’ve always considered it the sarcasm smiley!

  9. I think playing the track on F1 2011 gives a better impression than soulless numbers and graphs. I’m not sure why you decided to write off Red Bull Racing’s impression of the circuit and then hold Pirelli’s as gospel, merely because it suits the article?

    It seems like a good circuit, and it’s F1 first new proper circuit since Turkey. The rest have been half baked Marinas, Street Circuits, and crap like that. Korea is a good circuit, but the rest. Singapore, Valencia, Abu Dhabi…they’re terrible and run on gimmicks like Night/Twilight racing and hotels. And now with this new Jersey Shore track, another street circuit, F1 should appreciate that F1 is still trying to go to new actual racing circuits.

    1. Not sure we can draw too many conclusions from F1 2011 about what it will be like as a race – I quite like Valencia (esp. the last sector) in the game, but am desperately hoping it’ll be one of the races being shown on Sky. I’m sure though that India will be better than Valencia. It’s such a shame that there are great circuits not being used for F1 or with question marks over their future when that seems one of the safest fixtures on the calendar. Hate it, hate it, hate it [stamping feet].

  10. Since RedBull have clinched a championship again, so their simulator shouldn’t be total rubbish and Pirelli’s always a bit on the conservative side, I think the lap times will be around 1:22.

    On the circuit, I don’t know. Let’s watch it.

  11. The problem is a constant effort to make the track good for overtaking, instead of designing a good challenging circuit.

    None of the classic circuits in the calendar have been designed that way. A circuit full of straights and harpins is boring for fans and it surely is very boring for the drivers.

    1. Overtaking is the new black unfortunately. Once the majority realise that great races do not involve loads upon loads of overtaking (say in about 5 years or so), we can be rid of DRS and start designing tracks that actually challenge the drivers more.

      Drivers hardly ever make mistakes and retire these days because the circuits are so forgiving. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for run off areas in dangerous places, but the wall of champions shows you can have a punishable corner that is also relatively safe.

  12. It would be unhealthy for Tilke to continue to design every F1 circuit. However, that’s not to say that he is responsible for large run offs and a lack of exciting corners – those are just the rules.

    We can perhaps blame him for this though;

    Straight, hairpin, straight, hairpin. Twiddly bit and back around again for another lap.

    And although India follows this suit, I do think it’s a more enjoyable track than Korea, Bahrain, certainly more than Valencia, Abu Dhabu and Singapore. It’s twisty parts, unlike all of the above, are fast, flowing and relentless and like I mentioned in another thread it feels European and more akin the Nurburgring or Hungary even.

    1. @Electrolite My biggest issue with Tilke is that he designs corners that are too long. Sepang, Shanghai, Sakhir, Yeongam, Yas Marina. They all have these long corners with either increasing or decreasing radii that serve only to string out the field and enchance the impact of dirty-air.

      Think of a circuit like Spa or Melbourne where there are long straights followed by ‘short corners’. You arrive at the corner, brake, turn in and you’re almost immediately onto another straight. You’re not spending 2-3 seconds waiting for the corner to end to finally put the power down. This helps to make a track feel much more flowing. That’s where I think Tilke’s tracks fall down for me. Does that even make sense?

      1. It does :) However in some instances, this rewards good driving/pace and therefore bringing the car in front closer – like Istanbul, and maybe with India although obviously we’ll have to wait and see about that.

        With Bahrain they need to experiment with other versions of the track, or at least, at all costs, avoid the 2010 layout which was truly dire! With the new Silverstone they managed to create long and short corners with differing apexes, yet it seems to flow nicely and feel far from any of the other modern track designs.

        Another characteristic of his tracks I’ve just thought of is just how unnatural some of the turns feel. If you take Spa, Suzuka or Silverstone you’re not just driving the corners of the track, but the scenery and atmosphere around you, with passion, athleticism. With a lot of the Tilkedromes you’re more or less ‘navigating’, or measuring the car from turn to turn without reward.

        Sorry that nearly got way too deep ;) But you get what I’m saying.

        1. (@Magnificent Geoffrey)

  13. So are there any stats on the amount of over taking per race(each circuit).

    1. If they were they’d be pretty irrelevant. This year DRS zones are different for each track – sometimes they’ve just gifted drivers overtakes, and other times it hasn’t worked. For previous years though, sure.

  14. I think we must savor todays F1 while it lasts, it is only a matter of time until tracks like Silverstone, Interlagos and Albert Park get moved aside for ultra modern Tilkedromes.

    Soon they will be just memories.

    1. @Mike I doubt it! I don’t think FOM are that stupid! Besides, Silverstone has around 15-16 years left on their deal and Monaco signed a 10 year deal earlier this year.

      There’s no reason why FOM would ditch a track for another track other than money. We’ve had 1 ‘Tilkedrome’ fail already in the shape of Istanbul Park and there aren’t that many looking too convincing either.

  15. Lets just hang on for 3 more days, shall we? All judgements made even before a lap time has been set are mere speculation. No amount of numbers can tell the story like an actual timed lap. Everyone has been saying good things about the track and drivers do not normally speak nonsense when asked about a track. All the teams and a few drivers (including MSC) have had inputs into the design, so, there should be something good that came out of it.
    The turn 10/11 complex looks interesting and and turn 2 could throw some surprises too.
    Lets just hold our horses until Friday!

  16. It’s interesting to see how the longest circuits (Spa, Silverstone, Suzuka, Monza) and the shortest (Monte-Carlo, Interlagos, Montreal) are the best races.

  17. A new circuit is exciting.

    No previous race data. I think there will be lots of interest this race with strategy. The tyres situation with a claimed two second gap between prime and option. Drivers learning the limits.

    Can’t wait. This year has been super it just keeps on giving.

  18. I wish they’d just throw a tied string of spaghetti (al dente) onto a model of the designated new track surface and proceed to just make it safe enough for F1. The formulaic approach makes for similar racing, it’s getting boring.

    It’s always hard to rule out nostalgia as a factor, but I’ve only been watching F1 since 2008 and don’t look for cues from the past to enjoy today’s racing. The variety of the older tracks makes them interesting, even if there aren’t constant overtakes, at least it makes the ones that do happen worthwhile.

    The only track Tilke didn’t mess up was Istanbul. Having seen two fantastic GPs there and unpretentiously driving it in F1 2010, its layout is great. No hairpins (the design of turns 12,13,14 is just inspired as an alternative to the straightforward hairpin) along with a tricky off camber downhill corners 1 and 9,10 (leading into the back “straight”), aside from turn 8 – which unfairly overshadows the other good stuff the track has to offer. Too bad they built it in the wrong place.

    I’m also keeping an open mind to the first Indian Grand Prix – and from the Red Bull preview it looks more interesting than other recent additions – but the points stands regardless of the quality of this example.

  19. It seems to be a good track, only because I think that the long straights will let to see some overtakes but nothing more. Tilke always do the same work, his designs are terribly boring, always with the same combination of high and low speed corners, each one in a different sector and never combinated in a more imaginate way.

    And my question is, is it impossible to have another track designer? It seems that Tilke has the exlusivity and this is something really disgusting for me.

  20. The short answer is that we just don’t know, and we’ll have to wait and see. It’s looking good so far though, undulating with some good corners, it could well be Tilke’s best track along with Sepang and Istanbul.

  21. Playing it on F1 2011, its an alright track. Theres a wholly unnecessary left-right in the last sector though.

    Imola should be back on the calender, joined by Potrero de los Funes.

    The Tilke-dromes are almost universally awful, identikit borefests.

    And does Interlagos really have 21 turns?!

  22. Does anybody remember the F1 1997 game for the Playstation?

    There’s a track you can unlock called ‘Sunob’ (Bonus backwards) and the track is literally the shape of an F1 car. Not only that, but it’s one of the most enjoyable circuits I’ve driven on a computer game. We need someone to design that track in real life!!!

    1. @James Brickles
      Probably the best F1 game ever made.
      Anyone noticed that most Tilkedromes are named xxx International Circuit? (Sepang, Shanghai, Korea, Buddh etc)

    2. Exactly: I played this game, and i remember that fantastic track. It was quite tricky but soo much fun. And the whole game was great in fact…

  23. Sadly Tilke seems to have either lost the plot or is severly hindered by regulations (or both) because we’ve had loads of new tracks come in since Malaysia in 1999 and hardly any have really looked good, got the fans through the gates and provided good races
    Why not go for some variety, 4km or 6km or really low downforce or a really high downforce, something unusual.

  24. No it won’t do anything good the same old boring Tilke track.

  25. Buddh F1 track may actually be one of the (few, or very few) good Tilke designs (Sepang, for instance). I think Tilke is somehow truncated by regulations, but still there should be room left for innovation. For example, why doesn’t he put blind turns into his tracks? Why not twisted portions of track (twisted here means a kind of Mobius band)?
    I’m dreaming to the day when a Tilke design would make me exclaim “what a great track!”

  26. In the lap length chart, the 5 shortest and 4 longest circuits are all non-Tilke, and among those 9 include 7 tracks that are generally perceived as among the best. Among the others there aren’t many that stand out (possible exceptions being Melbourne and Nurburgring) because although Turkey, Malaysia, even Bahrain and Shanghai are either good drivers circuits or have actually turned out a lot of decent racing, they are all so similar in some way that is hard to put your finger on- there is the obvious combination of corners, but there is also a feeling that it’s as much about the architecture, and everything has to look grand (oversized- sure it allows cars to be several abreast, but it rarely happens and makes the cars look small and less ragged) and somehow sparse in all the sections that don’t have a huge grandstand. I find that the tracks, regardless of terrain or features (dessert, grass, hills, scrub), look somehow bleak and bland to me in a way that crumbling circuits that should look bleak and actually look merely aged and characterful.

  27. I don’t like that Tilke, tho some of the styling of the new circuit’s is very modern and 21 century, arcurtecture wise.

  28. Apparently all tickets are sold out!

  29. This could be one of Tilke’s good creation though the layout isn’t really captivating. This applies to even the new circuits such as Kazakhstan motorcity and the circuit of the Americas. Are there any other circuit designers who are affliated to FIA or is it just Tilke GmbH at the moment?

    But nevertheless, the India circuit seems to be completed by the organizers and only 5 more days, we will know what the circuit offers the F1F’s.

  30. If given a blank piece of paper NOT a one of you could come up with anything better than what’s out there now. Think of it for a second, you have left turns and right turns and they all have to meet back together in order to make a lap. Please, I’m no Tilke fan but all his turns meet to make a closed curcuit.

  31. sid_prasher (@)
    24th October 2011, 19:58

    I think one of the problem with new tracks is that they are all massively influenced by commercial needs and not so much by passion for racing.

    Anyways I just hope that the Indian GP will go on to develop a character of its own – one that is liked by fans and the drivers.

  32. Without wishing to judge the track before it’s even held a race

    This is why on the previous article relating to the Track,I refused to take a Driver’s words for granted despite them having more data than us via experiencing the track on the Simulator.Occassionally the data received from the Simulator doesnt translate to the actual track itself that well.

    Same goes with Pirelli’s data,i dont believe it until Friday Practice with Onboard or FOM Footage

  33. I think it’s early to judge, but I second the idea that tracks need a deifining character. However, it is a little be unfair to say, make a track like Spa, Monza, or Interlagos, or Silverstone. I suspect that if Monza were built for the first time today, people would say it’s a lame collection of straights with chicanes. But Tilke should pick one theme. He should make a track that is a speed-drome, one that a is crazy little rolercoaster like Lagua Seca or Portimao, etc. Something nutty like Norisring— like a roadcourse “short track.”

    A missing element of track design is connection of the track and design with the surrounding space, with context. Spa addresses its surroundings elegantly. Same for the Nordschleife, Fuji, Elkhart Lake. Suzuka weaves through its landscape like bird. Look at Turkey, it could be anywhere on earth, or the moon. Same for Shanghai. Making the track in the shape of a character is not context.

    As far as designing for passing, I am really amazed that Tilke persists with the long straight into hairpin theory. It doesn’t work. The terminal speeds of the cars are roughly very similar, and so a weak block will fend off most any slipstream attack by a roughtly equal car, even if it can get that close, even if doesn’t hit it limiter. If a following car has a lower top speed but is actualy quicker, a very likely scenario, then the long straights just frustrate the attack. I also invites that set up choice just to create that scenario, a la, Mercedes in Monza.

    The bar charts are fascinating. By this metric Singapore is the worst track. It’s super slow and has a long lap time, despite being very short. From my obviously authoritative experience in F12010, these data confirms why it sucks. I hate it. It is exhausting, visually uninteresting, flat and boring. It takes so long to finish that the two-hour limit is a threat in the dry, in real life. It is a lot of furious down-shifting and brake-slamming for nothing. It’s like Valencia, basically, but worse.

    1. Just out of interest, I’ve always wondered what the “symbol” that Shanghai is designed after is supposed to be/represent?

      And I agree, there are too many right-left-right 90 degree bends in Singapore. Specifically the pointless “improving the show” dart under the grandstands. But I do quite like it all the same.

    2. I agree that the long straight into hairpin doesn’t really work for overtaking but adding to your reasons, I think it’s the preceding corner before the long straight that’s more than important for overtaking.

      Take a look at Valencia and Abu Dhabi – very long back straight into a slow corner and no real opportunity for overtaking. On both circuits the turn before is a slow, short turn – Only one line and the car in front will always be on the throttle earlier. They do the most damage in terms of a lack of overtaking because all they do is space out the cars. I noticed this in Korea; without the DRS I think we would’ve had a pretty boring race there.

  34. I don’t mid most of the track. The 1,2,3 combination looks good with the elevation, theres a couple of passing spots.
    T10 the long right hander is banked which will be good
    But its the fiddly chicanes just before and after it that wind me up, they’re pointless, they’ll spread the field out and the only passing in there will be on lap 1 or backmarkers getting lapped.

    1. ‘fiddly chances’ lol, excellent.

      the first one is taken at about 200 km/h, the second one is awesomely highspeed in 5th or 6th gear on low fuel, and is similar to the fastest corners at Melbourne.

  35. I hate to say this but all the track in Asia that build after Sepang is basically rubbish and was build purely for money and fame with no motorsport interest at all. Sepang at least host other big event such as Super GT, MotoGP, A1 GP, Asia GT3, Endurance Race.

  36. The elevation changes make this track stand out a little from latest Tilke creations. Also: end of sector 2, turns 10 – 11 seem interesting, something like that famous Nordshleife corner maybe. BUT, Barcelona looks good on paper too, it also looks exciting when watching an onboard lap, but we all know that races there are boring (except this year). So, lets wait one week and we will see.
    A propo Korea – it’s overdone, too much corners and too much slow corners, just like Valencia, which seems to confirm that its not the way to go in racing circuits design.

  37. So for the many expert critics, which track so far this year has produced exciting wheel to wheel racing?

  38. Analysis of the circuit based upon superficial numbers. Excellent analysis! Typical fan trash.

    For skilled drivers, the elevation changes and layout will make this a great place to drive. For those whose F1 2011 experience is what they base tracks and excitement upon, maybe not.

    1. @dworsley What do you mean by “superficial numbers”?

      For those whose F1 2011 experience is what they base tracks and excitement upon

      I presume you’re referring to the computer game, but I’ve no idea why.

      1. You’re analysing the circuit based purely on numbers: of corners, lengths, average speeds. The F1 drivers won’t be. They’ll be saying ‘it has a nice flow; I like these sequence of corners” etc. The numbers you quote have no direct correlation with how good a track will be because it has nothing to do with the layout (the actual classification of corners itself is silly; the FIA call a curved piece of flat-out running a corner when it isn’t, and that is given the same value as a hairpin where you experience 5g of braking).

        And on the second remark: a ridiculous number of comments use F1 2011 as their reasoning for their set view of how good a track is. “In 2011 its pretty good, this corner is pretty good” when a game – arcade and all – is no where near reflective of how fun a corner is to drive or how it is taken in real life, and the physics and general track data is not accurate to any stretch of the imagination.

        And finally, I just don’t find the enormous numbers of comments casting judgements, based upon the above ideas, as sensible. But it dominants. Obviously you provide the disclaimer that we haven’t had the Grand Prix yet, but you’re already critical, much like many others.

        Sort of similarly, the criticism of Tilkedromes I find frustrating and so cliched, and down-right wrong most of the times. Korea is a huge example. It seems like the majority of ‘F1 fanatics’ think the layout isn’t a good one (for excitement reasons, or for driver skill/challenge reasons). Yet Formula 1 drivers, including the likes of Webber (who, if I were him, I’d hate it), say they really enjoy it. And that’s because, other than the first sector, the layout is great! The highly abrasive circuit means cornering speeds are huge for how tight it is. And you’re always braking or cornering with blind corners with some undulations that playing a game like F1 2011 won’t imply (such as the drop in camber in the middle of turn 7), with massive lateral Gs all the way through the two final sectors.

        TLDR, I feel the far majority of opinions on tracks and layouts ( ‘omg bring classics back! new tracks/tilkedromes suck! yawn, hairpin, straights, boring track’) are just a common, unsophisticated attitude and have little true substance.

        1. I think you may be missing the bigger picture slightly here.

          I think the Fanatics are more than happy to admit when they’re wrong, and let’s face it, with a couple of the tracks we have been.

          But that’s almost besides the actual point. The point is that Tilke’s tracks seem to follow a very similar pattern, not just in appearance, but even as far number of corners, length, and other stats demonstrated in the above article.

          I think more than anything, we as fans just want some variation. Yeh, it’s great that they’ve worked out a formula to create, generally speaking, close racing. That’s wonderful, but to do that for every one of the new tracks is perhaps a little tiresome. A calendar full of tracks that are not too disimilar to eachother just doesn’t excite me, in the same way a spec series F1 wouldn’t excite me. I see a very similar argument for ‘spec tracks’ tbh, I don’t see why it’s any different.

          I feel we should have variation in our tracks! Look at the Hockenheims (which is now another Tilke track), Monzas, Silverstones, Spas. They’re all completely different. Even at a glance, they look totally different.

          We cannot, and should not, lose that identity.

        2. +1

          You have to laugh when you read comments like,

          “I have played F1 games ever since I was a kid.

          There is not one track I enjoy over Monaco.”

          1. If you’re bringing up Monaco again, then you should know by now that the drivers do indeed enjoy Monaco over almost every track.

  39. Looking at these graphs makes me so sad. When I started following F1 in the mid 90s, there were just too tracks that I considered to be “boring” of “standard”: Estoril and Catalunya. Every other track was somehow unique: you had the twists of Hungaroring, the chicanes of Imola, Silverstone’s sweeping corners, the flatout riders of Monza and Hockenheim and so on.

    And now, every track is just 5,5 km in length with some 20 corners, and every one of them has a couple of hairpins and one really long straight. I really don’t understand why FIA insists of every track being the same length. Surely the race promoters would prefer a bit shorter tracks (<5 km), so the spectators would see the cars more often.

  40. I know you made other points Keith, but those bar graphs would have Melbourne and Nurburgring as “cookie-cutter” circuits too.
    While I usually have a strong distaste for Tilke-designed circuits, I like the look of India. It seems promising and I’m optimistic for an enjoyable circuit, not just an enjoyable race.

  41. Admittedly, the circuit has got Herman Tilke written all over it, however, I shall reserve judgement until this weekend is over.

    Ultimately it depends on for what reason you enjoy Grand Prix racing. You won’t catch me complaining about a circuit conducive to a lack of over-taking because I can still take pleasure in it regardless. Having no particular allegiance helps as well!

    The orientation of the tarmac plays a vital role, but no more vital than tyres, aero configuration, gear ratios or the weather. I believe it all boils down to the action over one day and how the millions of variables come into play.

    Remember, China is currently topping the rate-the-race charts with Monza towards the bottom half!

    Six of one, half a dozen of the other if you ask me.

  42. Yas Marina is nothing like Istanbul so how can India possibly be like both of them?

    1. As I said in the article, in terms of their structure.

      You have an ‘overtaking bit’ – a couple of long straights leading into slow corners – and a ‘twisty bit’, usually made up of rather perfunctory and often slow corners.

      Istanbul at least has the saving grace of turn eight and some gradient. Yas Marina has a hotel and a silly pit lane exit.

  43. Poor Chandok will be sitting on the sidelines watching the race from the pit garage. However, the Indian GP looks set to be a good ‘race’ and not a procession like the ones we have at the Valencia, Hungaroring, Monte Carlo etc. With 2 DRS zones and some hairpins, expect some real racing around BIC. Let the 5 lights go out!

  44. For all the billions of pounds he is given, Tilke simply cannot grasp how a half second gap looks whilst going round a tight 55mph hairpin leading onto the main ‘overtaking’ straight. I’ll give him a clue- it means your front wing is jammed right underneath the car ahead’s rear wing, robbing it of 100% of its downforce. He didn’t grasp this concept when he brought us Abu Dhabi, and now he’s done it again, in fact twice in succession on this circuit. One really has to wonder whether he actually watches F1 – he is such a terminally slow learner for someone with about 10 times more experience of F1 circuit design than anyone else…..

    The tricky final turn at the A-1 Ring in Austria – *that* is how you make a corner leading onto a long straight for setting up overtaking.

  45. Anyone want to backflip yet?

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