De-Tilke-fication of F1 tracks

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    Prisoner Monkeys

    We all know that a common complaint about modern circuits is that they’re boring and soulless and fiddly and a variety of other adjectives that all amount to the same thing: fans are consistently unimpressed by circuit design. But for all the complaints about it, I’ve never really seen anyone suggest an alternative, and so this thread gives you that chance. Welcome to the detilkefication, where we take circuits and remove anything that could be described as being “too Hermann Tilke” about them.

    So, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. First of all, open up the Google Maps pedometer. Find a circuit and make any changes that you think will produce better racing. Save it, post the link so we can all check it out for ourselves, and give an explanation as to what you did and why.

    Here are mine:

    Circuit de Catalunya


    I kept most of the first sector intact, largely because I like the layout. However, I find the middle part to be fairly boring, full of low- and medium-speed corners that don’t really contribute anything, but the circuit opens up once more around Campsa. So I cut Turn 4 in half, and added a left-hand sweeper in, connecting up to Campsa. The elevation drop is an added bonus, which I think will make the corner even trickier.

    The next thing I did was restore La Caixa to its original layout, mostly because the current corner is designed to work with the last part of the lap, and I completely reprofiled it. Rather than a series of tight-ish sweepers where passing is impossible, the drivers now go through a double-apex right where they have to stamp on the throttle at just the right moment in order to get the second half of the corner right. Too early and they will understeer through the corner; too late, and they will leave themselves vulnerable to attack in the next corner, where instead of going through the useless final chicane, there ill be a corner where they can actually pass before accelerating into the final long conrer.

    Autodromo enzo e Dino Ferrari


    For years, I’ve puzzled over what to do about Imola, and I’m surprised and annoyed that it took me so long to come up with such a simple solution. The problem, for me, is that the circuit has smply been turned into a series of chicanes. How do you keep the spirit of the original circuit intact, but keep all the modern safety requirements?

    The answer was to trim down the first sector. Tamburello isn’t actually that bad; it’s Villeneuve that felt unnecessary. So I turned Tamburello into a single corner rather than three. It’s sharp, but there are no changes in direction mid-corner. The cars then blast up to Villeneuve, which is no longer a chicane, but a sweeper as it always should have been (the Tamburello chicane always slowed the cars down enough for Villeneuve, making a second chicane unnecessary.

    The cars then go up through Tosa and down through Piratella as usual, to Acque Minerale. I think we can all agree that this is one of Tilke’s better changes, since it took a chicane and smoothed it out, which is never a bad thing. I then decided to skip the Variante Alta entirely, mostly because I feel it represents everything that is wrong with the current state of Imola, paving the way for an insanely-fast run down to Rivazza, which I’ve left undistrubed because it’s one of my favourites. Finally, the removal of the final chicane by the organisers has been kept as is.

    The whole circuit is now nice and fast, witha few braking areas where you can pass without needing to slow down to the speed of a pedestrian.



    Firstly, I really don’t like the Mercedes Arena. I think it’s full of pointless direction changes and slow, burbling corners that seem to have been designed to give spectators the opportunity to see the cars for as long as possible. But I do like the first corner, because it actually produces a lot of passing. So I decided to keep it, and turn the second corner into one long, constant-radius bend (possibly with some camber) and skip the next two corners entirely. This increases the exit speed of the Arena, and the entry speed of the next two corners.

    I’ve always found the bottom corner to be rather uninspiring, built for the sake of connecting one part of the circuit to another. So I added another braking point and overtaking spot, following the line of the embankment on the far side of the current gravel trap. I think this has worked really well, because it creates a multi-apex corner where the drivers must hit the first apex, miss the second and hit the third to get it right (the polar opposite of “Miss-Hit-Miss” – the corner after Kallenhard, I think – on the Nordschleife). What’s more, it gives the defending driver the chance to fight back, because the attacking line puts the attacking driver in the wrong position for the next to apexes. Hopefully, this will create a little side-by-side action up into the Schumacher-S, with the bravest driver winning.

    Finally, I decided that if you’re going to race at the Nurburgring, then you have to race at the Nordschleife. I opened up the exit of the downhill right that feeds onto the fastest part of the circuit and linked it up to the Nordschleife by way of the existing public road (what to do for regular traffic is a problem I can’t solve). Sure, it’s only a few corners of the Nordschleife, but I think it does wonders for the final sector: flat-out sweepers that lead to an uphill braking area, then a nice, open sweeper leading onto the main straight that will hopefully increase speeds and allow for more overtaking into the first corner.

    I’ll post more if and when I think of them – I have some ideas for the Hungaroring, but they’re not working as well as expected – but for now, I’ll open the floor to you. Feel free to add your own designs, or comment on those have been posted.

    In the meantime, let the de-Tilke-fication begin!



    I’ll do some more later this week, when I have more time, but I couldn’t resist redrawing one of my favourite tracks that has been maimed: Zandvoort. I know Tilke has only designed the grandstand, but looking at some of the new corners, I can’t help but feeling they reek of his style.


    – From the start until after Scheivlak remains the same, naturally.
    – Then the exit of ‘Renault’ is loosened and ‘Vodaphone’ is also loosened in an attempt to bring back the flow in the circuit.
    – The dreadful ‘Audi S’ Now becomes a very fast left.
    – ‘Kumho’ is tightened for overtaking and it will be banked on the dune like ‘Tarzan’.
    – Finally the ‘Bos Uit’ is also loosened to increase the speed coming into ‘Tarzan’.

    I’m not fully satisfied by the 7-8-9 combo, it could be loosened further, but the fast kink followed by a banked hairpin should bring back some of the fearsomeness of the original from the 50s.


    James Brickles

    What I’ve done to the Abu Dhabi circuit, basically just opening up most of the corners. http://imageshack.us/a/img855/6717/abetterversionoftheabud.png

    The changes start in the first sector, I’ve included a fast section of tarmac that appears wasted on the track, removed the chicane, and opened up to a ‘Rivage style’ hairpin into the long straight. Makes it a lot more challenging than a slow chicane into an even slower hairpin. Plus the very slow hairpin just allowed the car in front to pull away on traction.

    At the end of the first back straight, I’ve made the chicane more open to actually challenge the drivers rather than make them follow each other for one more lap, the current one is just ridiculous. Onto the other back straight heading for the most dramatic series of changes.

    The triple chicane has been replaced with a single corner, turn 13 Melbourne style. The slow corner afterwards is basically an acceleration zone. The first of the right handers remains, but then it bypasses the hotel section until the final corner, with a couple of fast kinks just to keep the driver occupied.



    I had an attempt at Moscow Raceway, but the only way to fix it is to break down the whole thing and start over. Actually the location is terrible as well, with houses right next to it and a whole 100km from Moscou. What a stinker, I made far better ones in the dirt when I was 5, probably could’ve picked a better location as well.



    Here’s me having a go at the current Hockenheim.


    Ryan Williams

    Korean International Circuit
    The final sector of Yeongam is one of my least favourite sections of track in the world. It’s too narrow, too tight and just isn’t good for racing on, so I have redesigned the circuit to avoid this particular stretch of tarmac.


    The first sector remains pretty much untouched, but the drivers now sweep round a long left-hander before jinking to the right at the end of the straight before taking the second sector in reverse.

    I’ve opened up the second sector a bit so the cars can carry more speed through the corners and set-up a move into the now right-hander at the bottom of the hill. The cars then skip the chicane and instead head up to the original Turn 4 backwards.

    The cars then make a left followed by a short right and join what is currently the circuit’s access roads. This then forms a straight that goes over the bridge above the long back-straight before coming back onto the main circuit through a hairpin onto the start/finish straight.

    I know that this layout is highly implausible as it would require completely remodelling the circuit’s infrastructure, and whilst the bridge may not improve overtaking, it does add an interesting feature to an otherwise bland circuit.

    I would also move the start/finish line to the longer straight to set-up a start line duel into the long T1, and add a new, much safer pit-lane exit



    Our friend Hermann only got his grubby hands on one little section of the much-loved circuit, but he still managed to ruin it.

    Ideally we’d have cars piling into La Source at 210 mph, but somebody might get excited, and so a chicane is necessary between Blanchimont and the finish. But the current one by you-know-who is rubbish – slow, fiddly and encourages corner-cutting and all the bickering that comes with that. I’d change it to something that can be taken in 2nd or 3rd gear but requires accuracy and bravery, hopefully a passing place too. Something like half the old Bus Stop.

    I’ll put my tin hat on for this next bit, because I’m changing Eau Rouge. Not by much, mind – the drivers who say it’s “easily flat” or “not a challenge any more” will wish they’d kept their mouths shut, as I’d tighten the apexes just enough to make it not-quite-flat again…

    My other alteration would be the slightly underwhelming section after les Combes – I’d lengthen the straight before the tight right-hand Rivage – maybe creating half a passing chance – and making the left-hander Bruxelles sprout some extra speed and trickiness (that’s the one Martin Brundle calls the “corner with no name”). Everything else is fine.

    I think they could have done better with the update two years ago.

    First, I’d get rid of the ridiculous sunken pitlane by adding banking to the first corner.
    The Loop is a slow, boring waste of space. I’d replace that with a fast left-hander, and I’d name it after Sid Watkins.

    I’d leave one slower corner on the lap – Brooklands – but maybe tighten it or whatever’s needed to make a better overtaking spot. Can’t really bring back the old Woodcote, but it’s a good place to watch, with a view all along the Wellington Straight, and right over to Copse.

    I would restore the old straight between Stowe and Club, to bring back more of the spirit and original corners of the classic high-speed circuit.

    Finally I’d build a bridge or tunnel at Club, so spectators don’t have to trudge round or wait for a poxy bus for 40 minutes just to get to the infield. Surely they could have built one instead of blowing all the budget on a giant shrine to Bernie?


    Prisoner Monkeys

    @necrodethmortem – I do like that. There’s a few things I might smooth out, and maybe I’d extend the top loop a little more, but overall, I approve.

    @brickles – I like yours, too, though I think you might have a few problems with run-off in the final sector. But the run-off at the end of the long straight goes under/between the grandstands, so you could possibl extend the circuit out there, meaning the run-off issue isn’t an issue anymore.

    @ryanwilliams – Certainly not bad, but I don’t really see why you changed the second sector. It’s actually quite good the way it is now. In fact, Korea may already have a near-perfect circuit – this. It’s a little on the short side, but if the existing track could be demolished and this part rebuilt to be five kilometres long, it would be fantastic.

    @bullfrog – I get what you’re trying to do with Spa, but I don’t think that chicane would be enough. The Bus Stop is not only designed to slow the cars down before La Source, but to stand in as a new overtaking point for the one that is taken away from La Source by its presence.

    Anyway, some more designs:



    This is more of a fun one than anything else, mostly because I was curious as to what the circuit might look like today if the 1991 reconfiguration had never taken place, but the 2010 redesign had.

    Circuit of the Americas


    When COTA was first unveiled, a lot of criticism was directed at the double-Hockenheim switchback (thanks for that, Mr. Schwantz). So I exorcised it; firstly, by adding a long curve to the back straight, styled on Blanchimont, and then by cutting out the second hairpin and linking the first part of the corner up to the Turn 8 replica so that it’s now part-Tamburello, part-Faux Rouge. I also tightened the penultimate corner to make the last turn more of a sweeper and allow the cars to carry more speed onto the front straight.


    Ryan Williams

    @prisoner-monkeys I nearly did use that layout for Korea, but like you said, it is a little on the short side. I do really like the 2nd sector as it is, but to allow more chance for passing into the right-hander, I thought some modification was required


    Ryan Williams

    Bahrain International Circuit
    This is another circuit where I quite like the middle sector, so I’ve kept that in. The main changes are a fast right at the end of the start/finish straight that cuts off the dreadfully slow hairpin that just causes accidents. This sets the cars up on a fast run down to the current T4, an already proven spot for overtaking.

    They then follow the usual sequence of T5/6/7/8 before heading a bit further on at T9 to join a new long left hander avoiding the very sharp 90 degree turn currently there.

    The cars then leave the current circuit again at T12 into a hairpin which could be a spot for last-minute lunges up the inside, before following part of the 2010 section backwards to join the long final straight through a short right-hander. I’ve then extended the final corner to enable the cars to carry more speed to allow them to get into the tow of the car in front, and nail them into the new T1



    Losail international Circuit


    I have had a go at the Qatar circuit.

    After a long start/finish straight, too many of Tilke’s circuit end up in a tight hairpin then loopback (Sepang, Nurburgring, China), I decided to open it up a bit and create a few sweeping corners leading into a hairpin (passing opportunity) which then leads into another hairpin deeper into the infield (more passing). From there I would return to the middle sector that is has a range of sweeping and tighter bends.

    At the second last corner, I would open up the corner and keep it going further left and head out to a tight final turn to encourage a last lap dive.

    I’ve made the track a bit longer but should generate a couple of more passing opportunities on an otherwise boring circuit.



    Adelaide Street Circuit


    Here’s the Adelaide Street Circuit with any changes necessary.



    Yas Marina Circuit


    I would only make two changes to the Yas Marina Circuit, both at the end of the long straights. Currently, at the end of each long straight is a tricky little section that discourages a driver from trying a pass as it puts them out of position for the next bend.


    James Brickles


    The changes are with speed in mind. The first section is THE overtaking zone so that’s the same, but it’s helped by the last corner being just a single corner rather than an awkward 90. In hindsight, I would have kept turn 4 the same because you can overtake there. It then takes to the endurance track for a Sepang turn 10-11 style turn, then a fast double left with links back to the main circuit. It then bypasses the two hairpins straight to turn 11. It remains unchanged until the previously mentioned final corner.


    James Scantlebury


    Formerly the permanent home of the German Grand Prix, Tilke butchered the long forest circuit in 2002, to the modern, TV friendly tilkedrone that we have today. I have attempted to undo some of his changes to Hockenheim, but speeding up the circuit and restoring some of the forest lost.

    The track is as usual around the fast “Nord Kurve” (I would have like to return the Nord Kurve to original, alas the lack of runoff means that this would be unlikely) and the current Turn 2, now renamed “Jim Clark Kehre”. This is where the track changes. The track continues on the same angle offered by the exit of “Jim Clark Kehre” into the infield, where a fast “Kurz Kehre” kink adjusts the track towards the bottom of the circuit, past a reconfigured Road Safety and Training Centre. The track then races through a very fast left hander at “Parabolika” (the short versions of the track exits here), to the redesigned “Mercedes Arena” where the cars jump from a fast left to a fast right with the grandstand behind. A tighter apex for the fast right is available for series like the DTM etc. The track then rejoins it’s former self on the run down to the hairpin, newly renamed “Ayrton Senna Kehre”. This hairpin then leads to a 1.1 km straight, all the way to the “Mobil 1 Kehre” at the entry to the Motodrom Stadium section. This section is as the track formerly was, as the Senna Chicane was located where the Hairpin is today.

    The 2002-14 track that would not be used in this version would be reforested as soon as possible, giving Hockenheim back the “natural forest” look that so many modern track lack.

    I believe that this track adds some thing different to Hockenheim that the new track was lacking, with distinct features, and a variety of layouts for different series.

    The track measures 4.96km (3.1 mi), making for a race distance of 61 laps.

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