Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2015

What they say about… the 2016 F1 tracks

2016 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

F1’s drivers are preparing for an arduous schedule of grands prix this year. The 21-race 2016 schedule – featuring six back-to-back races – is the largest the sport has ever seen.

But how many stops on the 2016 tour are they actually looking forward to? F1 drivers are usually too PR-conscious to say anything negative about the sport’s hosts, but it’s not hard to tell which venues ones inspire genuine warmth and affection – and which ones get token appreciation at best.

When drivers genuinely like a circuit, they rave about it. Less popular destinations are vaguely and quietly described as being ‘technical’ (i.e. ‘slow’) or ‘not a favourite’. Proper drivers’ tracks are generally not those where the first thing they talk about is the importance of tyre preservation.

With that in mind, here’s what they’ve had to say about every venue on this calendar in recent seasons:

Albert Park

Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2015
Melbourne: Popular start to the season

The whole vibe and atmosphere is just amazing. It’s busy and there is always something going on. The track is fun. I’ve always liked street circuits. I think it’s a great and fast flowing circuit.
Daniel Ricciardo

Albert Park

Bahrain International Circuit

It’s a track I like to drive, since the first race, which I don’t remember when it was, I was with Sauber – 2005 or 2005? It’s a nice track.

It’s a track that has a lot of long straights, heavy braking, traction. I don’t know, I just like it.
Felipe Massa

Bahrain International Circuit

Shanghai International Circuit

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Shanghai International Circuit, 2015
Shanghai: Not a favourite for Hulkenberg

The circuit in Shanghai is not particularly one of my favourite tracks, nevertheless it’s a demanding one, especially the first few corners and the corners before the back straight.
Nico Hulkenberg

Sochi Autodrom

In some ways the Sochi track reminds me of Singapore and Abu Dhabi. That’s because there are lots of 90 degree corners and acceleration zones, which put high energy through the rear tyres. There are some quick parts of the lap too. Turn 12 is quite difficult because you are pulling high g-forces and braking for turn 13 at the same time.
Sergio Perez

Circuit de Catalunya

It’s fun to drive. The first two sectors have a really good flow to them, which is pretty cool. The last sector is a bit more about tyre management on the modern layout but the rest is exhilarating.
Daniel Ricciardo

Monte-Carlo

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Monte-Carlo, 2015
Monaco: “On another level”

The track is incredible. It’s the one track we have which is special on another level and it generally always turns our to be one of the most amazing weekends of the year.
Lewis Hamilton

Monaco is definitely one of the highlights of the racing year for any driver. It’s a special sort of track where you always want to show that you are fast, because it’s a very challenging circuit where the driver can make the difference.
Carlos Sainz Jnr

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2014
Montreal: Ricciardo was “amazed”

Possibly winning has made me love it a little bit more but really I’ve loved it since my first lap, back when I was driving for Toro Rosso. I remember coming back into the pits and saying “what a circuit,” I was amazed at how good it was – and I’d only done an install.

It’s just a ridiculous amount of fun. You can jump across the kerbs and really get the car bouncing around. It’s like getting back to go-kart days, you really feel like you own it – and I love that. You can get aggressive with it, and aim to just brush the wall. There’s a lot of risk but that brings a lot of adrenaline with it. It’d be wonderful if you were doing it in isolation but with 100,000 screaming fans urging you on, it’s just mega.
Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull Ring

It’s definitely considered one of those ‘mini-classics’: not so complex in terms of its configuration, but fun to drive.
Jenson Button

Silverstone

Sergio Perez, Force India, Silverstone, 2015
Silverstone: “Legendary” fast corners

Driving the Silverstone circuit is always immense fun for all the drivers, and it’s definitely one of my favourite racetracks. The combination of Maggotts-Becketts has legendary status for good reason, and it’s one of the most exhilarating corner combinations of any circuit on the Formula One calendar.
Jenson Button

A historical track with some great corner combinations. I love to drive there, Silverstone is one of my favorite tracks.
Marcus Ericsson

Hungaroring

It’s a tough track on the driver – narrow, very twisty and usually very hot. It’s one of those circuits where you can really show your skill and that makes it a good challenge.
Nico Rosberg

Hockenheimring

A track that I always liked a lot. I have great memories of it as I raced there in every category during the early stages of my career. I won a GP3 race there in 2010. Hockenheim consists of a few straights, which can be a challenge for us. It is a technical track with its high-speed corners and the hairpin after the long straight.

Entering the stadium is a very fast corner, and the following ‘Sachskurve’ is a tricky one. The last two corners before the finish line are also interesting.
Esteban Gutierrez

Spa-Francorchamps

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2015
Spa-Francorchamps: “Exceptional” – but not favoured by all

I especially enjoy all the downhill section from the big long hairpin to Pouhon, the right-left at the end of sector two… It’s just a really exceptional track.
Carlos Sainz Jnr

Spa is my favourite circuit on the calendar. The track is unique, having a lot of high-speed corners and a great corner combination. As a driver you get a nice flow going through these corner combinations.
Felipe Nasr

No.
Lewis Hamilton (asked if Spa was “one of your favourite tracks”)

Monza

Will Stevens, Manor, Monza, 2015
Monza: Endangered shrine to speed

Monza is completely unique – a fantastic circuit, so much history, great fans, and huge fun to drive. It’s always special to go there year after year to experience the atmosphere, and the way the car feels when you drive on that track is completely different to any other.
Fernando Alonso

The emotions on the podium is incredible. If we take this away from the calendar for any shitty money reasons I think you are basically ripping our hearts out. We are here, we are racing and this makes it so much more worthwhile. It’s what we’re here for. You stand on the grid, you look to the left, you look to the right, people are just happy to be part of it and it makes our day.
Sebastian Vettel

Singapore

The first sector is quite long and fine but then you get to sector three where it’s corner after corner, where you need to think about your rear tyres, your braking point, the throttle is a big issue and you slip and so on so they are both very challenging in different ways but I don’t think there are any tracks which are easy nowadays in Formula One.
Romain Grosjean

Singapore

Sepang International Circuit

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Sepang International Circuit, 2015
Sepang: Special track for Alonso

My favourite. My first pole, my first podium, race that won more times. Best place to get my 200 races in F1.
Fernando Alonso

I first raced there in 2008 as part of the GP2 Asia Series and I really loved the circuit. It’s nice and wide, with fast flowing corners and a lot of undulation which makes it great fun to drive.

The last corner is a tricky one, but I enjoy everything about racing there. Well, maybe not the heat and humidity, but at the end of the day it’s just another challenge for the drivers.
Romain Grosjean

Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2015
Suzuka: Beloved by many

It’s a very special track. It’s got great history, a good feeling and also a lot of proper balls-out corners, which I like. It’s a really cool circuit.
Daniil Kvyat

Suzuka is definitely my favourite circuit of the year. Every driver has races that are special to them for one reason or another – a home Grand Prix, or the venue for their first win maybe – but I think if you ask most racers they will tell you there’s just something about this place that’s a little bit different.
Romain Grosjean

Japan is one of my favourite races of the season, not only because of the track layout but because of the huge community of fans that are incredibly passionate about the sport and create one of the best atmospheres of the season.
Pastor Maldonado

Suzuka immediately became my favourite track because of the high speed and the special corner combinations. Sector one is especially fun to drive because it is a bit like a rollercoaster with its quick changes in elevation.
Valtteri Bottas

Suzuka has also become one of my favourite tracks along with Silverstone and Spa. I really got on well with the Japanese people and I just loved that weekend.
Carlos Sainz Jnr

Suzuka, my favourite track! It is the most beautiful race track along with the Nordschleife and Macau, it is a dream to drive.
Sebastian Vettel

Circuit of the Americas

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2015
COTA: Best for overtaking?

Of the newer tracks on the calendar I think Austin is probably my favourite. The variation of corners makes it good fun to drive and they’ve designed a very nice facility. The track is smooth and it’s easy to find your rhythm.
Nico Hulkenberg

A circuit I’ve personally enjoyed a lot the last few years. I think it’s not only fun to drive but for racing it provides… I honestly think it’s the best circuit on the calendar for overtaking. I think there are more spots around the lap here for overtaking opportunities than any other, so that’s always exciting.
Daniel Ricciardo

Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

The circuit is definitely a big challenge, but it’s good fun to drive. It’s very technical and quite tricky to get it right. Sectors one and two, after the straight, are quite twisty and low-speed: the grip levels are very low, due to the new Tarmac, and it’s very easy to make a mistake.
Nico Hulkenberg

Interlagos

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Interlagos, 2015
Interlagos: Divides drivers

I like this track, even though it’s very short, because if you tackle it properly, it’s great fun to drive. [In 2014] the track was resurfaced and the grip level was high, something drivers always like as it means you can be more aggressive.
Kimi Raikkonen

It’s a fantastic track and there’s no part of it that isn’t great. It really suits my driving style. It’s a big challenge at every turn. There never seems to have a part where you relax. Even the main start-finish ‘straight’ isn’t boring as it starts uphill with some interesting camber, then gradually turns before finishing at the downhill turn one, where it’s so easy to out-brake yourself. If I had to pick favourite parts of Interlagos, I would say the first and last corners; the first corner is really technical and punishes you if you get it wrong, and the last corner is so fast and really puts quite a stain on your body. As a driver I really enjoy these corners. It’s an old style track, so very hard to pick out a single element; I’d say everything is pretty good in Interlagos; I love it!
Romain Grosjean

It’s one of the classics. It’s got good changes of elevation, it’s quite a quick, short lap and there are some good overtaking spots. It’s nice to drive; it has a good flow to it with some good high-speed corners, which is what drivers always enjoy.
Daniil Kvyat

There’s just not a corner that gives you any real satisfaction. I don’t want to make it sound dull, because it isn’t, but like Russia, there isn’t a corner that makes you go Woooo-Hoooo! It needs a few more corners and something really high speed. There’s a couple that look good on paper but because of the cambers, you never really have the grip to go barrelling in. The crowd really gets your heart-rate up before the sessions, so you want to be really on it but instead have to be very patient.
Daniel Ricciardo

Yas Marina

Felipe Massa, Williams, Yas Marina, 2015
Yas Marina: Not saving the best until last

It’s not one of my most favourite circuits. I think it’s too much stop-and-go and it’s missing a flow.
Nico Hulkenberg

The layout is not my favourite – there are too many second gear corners for my liking.
Romain Grosjean

Baku City Circuit

There is one track on the 2016 calendar which all the drivers are yet to make their minds up about – because none of them have driven there yet. The Baku City Circuit will host Azerbaijan’s first round of the world championship.

The track looks very much what you’d expect from a Hermann Tilke-penned street layout: a tour of local landmarks featuring an abundance of slow corners. The most interesting aspects could be the narrow section through the old part of the circuit – surely a magnet for Safety Cars? – and the high-speed run back to the start/finish area.

But will it be any good? We’ll find out in June.

Baku street circuit map, Azerbaijan
Baku street circuit map, Azerbaijan

Over to you

Which of the tracks on this year’s calendar do you want to visit? Join in the discussion here:

2016 F1 season

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45 comments on “What they say about… the 2016 F1 tracks”

  1. I can see why Hamilton is quite bitter about spa, especially after what happened in 2008, 2012 and 2014…

    1. He’s not bitter. He’s a bit of a contrarian and doesn’t follow the accepted ideas.

      Also it’s not his kind of track. He prefers the kart style tracks that you can ‘hustle’ on.

    2. Not every decent track is to everybody’s taste I would guess.

      I like Suzuka for example, but I wouldn’t regard it as one of my favourite circuits.

    3. Im surprised Kimi actually said as many words!

      1. Michael Freeman
        22nd January 2016, 5:46

        He only really said one word for each circuit – F1 Fanatic compiled those words and assigned the compilation to Interlagos

  2. hard to tell what baku will be like from the aerial shot alone. if there’s some interesting elevation changes or crowned roads then that might make it interesting. i get the feeling that teams are so good at simulating new stuff that having a brand new circuit to learn is not the challenge it once was. even 10 years ago you would tend to see greater variation in the running order on brand new tracks.

    or maybe drivers/teams are just better at their jobs now….

    1. Here‘s the route in a road car. A fair amount of elevation change around the old town. Surely they’ll have to make some changes to the section at 1:20.

      1. They should leave it as is, could be entertaining!

      2. @warwick

        Surely they’ll have to make some changes to the section at 1:20.

        Because of the narrow width? It’s probably about the same as the Andersen Bridge section at Singapore I’d say.

      3. Enjoyed watching that at 1.5x speed – particularly the backwards bits!
        On the map it looks like a Formula E track, or the old Phoenix circuit – but at least there was passing on all those 90° turns (with 1991 levels of grip, braking and bumps anyway.)

      4. That’s quite nauseating to watch with the to and fro from reversed footage! The end of the lap looks okay – we’ll see what gets done with barriers and run-offs but bits could be okay.

      5. There are some cobblestone sections it would be great to see F1 racing on cobblestone but I guess it would be a carnage :-D

    2. Another Rood on F1 Fanatic?

    3. Baku at first glance reminds me of a gran turismo 1 track. It’s more of an american style street track. Baku looks like it is a little more cramped than Valencia but much faster than monaco. I would say overtaking is guaranteed on the straights but not as easy as Montreal.

  3. We will be back racing this year in Sochi, a resort in Vladimir Putin’s private fiefdom, once called Russia. We’ve had two races there, and at each race we’ve seen the man with overall control of virually all F1 is and does, sit comfortably and cosily together with the man who rules the Russian state. A man BCE greatly admires as ‘a man who gets things done,’ etcetera, etcetera…..

    Today, the full report on the murder by polonium poisoning of Alexandr Litvinienko on the streets of London, by a man lionised in the Russian parliament, and who is an honoured appointee of Vladimir
    Putin. I have loved Formula 1 racing for more than forty years, through all it’s good and bad times.
    I have never wavered in my support for the drivers, the teams, the fans. But the stark memory of
    the man who is supposed to represent all our interests hob-nobbing with this planets biggest human pariah is simply beyond calm acceptance.

    But the rancid stench of corruption emanating from the very pinnacle of F1 in it’s world
    representatation of motor sport can only be laid at the doorstep of Mr Bernard Charles Ecclestone.
    This man is destroying the sport I love dearly. The sooner he falls as heavily and Blatter and others have done, the easier it will be for the rest of us to breath some decent, uncontaminated fresh air.

    1. hob-nobbing with this planets biggest human pariah

      That’s possibly a bit strong!

      I also quite like Bernie. That’s not to say that his time hasn’t come but people do like to over-react to every little thing that he says and does. I quite like his ‘throw-away’ comments too in this age of political correctness I find him a breath of not so fresh air ;)

  4. In some ways the Sochi track reminds me of Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

    Could there be a less desirable away to describe a racetrack?

  5. Kinda hoped you’d pick Kimi for Abu Dhabi :)

    1. @watertank “I like this track because I know what I’m doing”.

  6. A few of the comments do not tell me much.

    RIC is not going to say anything less than top of the top about Melbourne (and the fact that thinks Montmelo is exhilarating makes me wonder if he is just too happy to be a critic of any kind…)

    Same goes for the two (ex) ferrari drivers VET, ALO about Monza. I can imagine racing there gets more than a few extra points when you wear red, but it is not really about the circuit.

    And of course BUT on Silverstone, hardly surprising.

    1. @glacierre Racing in Montmelo is indeed exhilarating for the drivers(apart from the nowadays version of the last sector which RIC mentions as being rubbish). The racing may be dull for the spectators but remember it’s the driver’s point of view. Also on DR he’s not the only driver who like Melbourne a lot. Again it’s the driver’s point of view not spectator’s.

      Monza, well yes it’s about Ferrari. But from a driver’s point of view it’s exciting to drive as well, as the extremely low downforce configuration changes the way the car handles completely, making it more “on the edge”

      Button hardly surprising about Silverstone? He’s had the worst luck there of any track on the calendar! Even when he was in one of the best cars, there was always something that happened there to prevent a good result. I’d thought he hates the place. Furthermore, what he said, mimics what other drivers had said about Silverstone. IIRC the only one of the current drivers who said he doesn’t really like driving there is Perez

      I agree with you in general that it’s hard to really understand from driver’s comments what are their real thoughts and what is lip service but these examples you’d picked aren’t the best to demonstrate that IMO

  7. Great tracks that are part of the DNA of the sport that must NEVER be removed
    Monaco, Silverstone, Monza, Spa, Suzuka, Interlagos, Montreal, Red Bull Ring, Hockenhiem/Nurburgring
    Tracks that help make the calendar great and provide variety
    Mexico, COTA, Sepang, Singapore, Albert Park, Hungaroring, Bahrain
    Tracks that should be binned off with immediate effect!
    Sochi, Yas Marina, Catalunya, Shanghai, (probably Baku, but the jury is still out)
    To be replaced with (any from the following…yes I can dream)
    Imola/Mugello, Portimao, Road America/Road Atlanta/Watkins Glen/Laguna Seca, Potrero de los Funes, Inje Speedium, Rouen-Les-Essarts, Kyalami, Parcmotor Castellolí

    1. I would LOOOOVE to see Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta, and Watkins Glen on the F1 calendar! Replace Melbourne with Mt. Panorama!
      Sochi is a terrible track and needs to go, as does Yas Marina.

    2. Interesting new tracks for me, Inje and Castelloli. Portimao would make an interesting Portuguese GP venue, same for Road America hosting the GP of the Americas. Kyalami for a South African GP.

  8. Years ago the Hungaroring used to be seen as one of the poorer circuits on the calendar, twisty, slow, not much happening. But it is almost universally loved now. I can only put it down to the fact that it has churned out more than its fair share of great races (after 2006 ayway). It never ceases to amaze me just how much people’s opinions of the circuit have changed.

    1. @geemac I think we should separate the driver’s point of view from the spectator’s. Even when most fans hated the place there were drivers who loved it. I remember Trulli saying it’s his favorite track in 2001 for example. From a personal point of view, that’s the track I loved driving the most in Grand Prix 3 and 4 games back then. It’s from corner to corner with no rest like a go-cart track and if you catch a rhythm, it’s the best feeling in the world!

      Also there were some changes made to the circuit in 2003 that made overtaking a bit easier which improved the show for spectators too

  9. I think @keithcollantine is on fathers leave and has a lot of free time, either way really great features this off-season.

    1. @xtwl

      fathers leave

      That was a while ago! Glad you’re enjoying the off-season features, though :-)

  10. “Monaco is a terrible race” Tell that to the drivers, then.

    1. @rjoconnell Monaco can be a terrible race to watch on TV but it’s one of the greatest driving challenges still left for the racing driver in the world, and it’s probably the best place on the F1 calendar to be a spectator on the track. That’s the contradiction inherent in the Monaco GP, and what makes it so unique

    2. @rjoconnell Not sure what you’re quoting there?

  11. @keithcollantine
    hahaha you’re right Keith- “tyre management” has become F1 slang for “rubbish” hasn’t it?

    Catalunya: It’s fun to drive. The first two sectors have a really good flow to them, which is pretty cool. The last sector is a bit more about tyre management on the modern layout but the rest is exhilarating.

    I think DRS is all about “tyre management.” Double points resulted in “tyre management” as well. The first thing I think of when I see Maldonado is ‘that is a racer who is absolutely brilliant at “tyre management” :D

    1. @petebaldwin Well he did do fewer laps on his tyres than any other driver who started the full season…

  12. I hope the layout of the Mexican track’s stadium section will be different every single year.

  13. Did I miss something, has Verstappen been fired ?

    Now I found it also interesting to read other drivers their opinions, but having comments of the whole grid and leaving out Verstappen while he has made many senseful comments last season about lots of circuits just doesn’t seems right to me.

    But nonetheless, I like the creativity on your articles (although not always agreeing with them), I still like the different angles with how you try to inform us.

  14. Always amused by how often these drivers say something’s a “challenge” – it’s the new “for sure”.

    1. “Obviously.” @andae23

  15. The run to the first corner in Baku looks quite short!

  16. That last sector of the Baku street circuit shouldn’t require DRS. Plenty of kinks and straights to allow natural slip-streaming. Something I haven’t seen in a long time.

  17. The Baku layout could well be the Hop-on-Hop off tourist bus for the city…. “take the red line for the historic centre”

    not a fan – so will be at le mans

  18. Looks like Ricciardo would rather take the old Interlagos T1.. that would most definitely require bravery in a modern F1 car, with the rest of the old layout providing the fast and banked corners that he wants back :P.

  19. No.
    paeschli (asked if Hamilton was “one of your favourite drivers”)

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