Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Top Five...Street Tracks

As a sport that prides itself on being the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula One provides vastly differing challenges to both the drivers and teams. Just one of these variables are the tracks. In 2011, there are three street tracks on the roster - read on to see if any made my top five...

5. Adelaide
The track that held 11 Australian Grands Prix between 1985 and 1995 comes in at number five. This track witnessed some historic moments in its history - including Nigel Mansell's explosive tyre and the 1994 title decider. Despite its relatively simple layout including public roads and a horse-racing course, it holds a special place in the hearts of many F1 fans, particularly those from Australia. One F1 fan, 'Doance', sums up the track in two sentences: "It went through parklands and into the city. And it was a special event." So special in fact, that many F1 fans want to see it back on the F1 calendar.

Ayrton Senna was one of the many fans of the Adelaide Street Circuit
4. Detroit
It must have been only a matter of time before F1 held a race in 'motor city' itself, Detroit. A city with a famous skyline, it first held an F1 race in 1982. It was popular with fans and drivers alike for being just that little bit unique - its narrow track and close walls resulting in lots of retirements - only five drivers finished the 1984 event, with one of those a lap down. This meant that only four drivers were on the lead lap after just over 160 miles of sunny race action. Detroit still holds some races to this day, but it remains to be seen whether Formula One will ever return to the pavements of Motown. With the addition of Austin from next year, this sadly looks increasingly unlikely.

3. Monaco
Ask anyone to name an F1 track and chances are they'll say Monaco. The cars have long since outgrown the tiny principality's twisty streets, but that doesn't stop the drivers rocketing round an at an average speed of around 100mph - slow for a Grand Prix circuit, but practically unheard of in the slow, wealthy life of a Monegasque resident. The circuit has held many memorable races on its five different variations over the years - the first was held in 1929 by a close friend of the Royal Family, and Prince Albert loves the event - he awards the winner's trophy each year. The track is just over one and a quarter minutes of unbridled terror - let's watch Jenson Button's 2009 pole lap:

2. Montjuich Park
This circuit is widely regarded by Formula One buffs as one of the greatest circuits of all time. That it only held four Grands Prix is somewhat of a travesty, but a fatal accident at the final race meant that Formula One could not continue at the track draped over a mountain in Catalonia, Spain. In fact the speeds were so high here and so dangerous, it was here that wings were first banned in F1, those devices which have become so vital to a car's performance today.

1. Albert Park
Maybe a somewhat controversial choice, but Albert Park has seen some of the best racing in recent years and is a firm favourite with many of the drivers. Although not immediately famous among non-F1 fans (unlike the notoriety held by Monaco and Silverstone), the track has also become well-known due to its feature on F1 racing games, upon which it has become one of the most popular tracks to drive. To make this all the more special, Albert Park is actually a public park for most of the year, teeming with wildlife. If looked up on Google Streetview, you can see that the main straight is used for parking, and much of the last part of the lap takes place in cycle lanes! If indeed the track is lost from the roster, as Bernie Ecclestone keeps making clear, I'm sure it will not only be a loss for the local residents and Australia, but for the sport as a whole. In years to come I'm sure we will look back on this track as one of the best of the contemporary age. Farewell, Albert Park.

The lake around which the Albert Park track runs
A notable mention to both Ned Flanders and Nik for mentioning AVUS, a German track run almost exclusively on German motorway and flanked at both ends by hairpins. The banking at one end of the track had no safety barrier - meaning cars could be launched off at even the smallest mistake, a recipe for disaster. More happily, the track is now an important part of the German Autobahn network.

Now its over to you. What do you think about my choices and what are yours? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

This article is based on a thread started on the F1Fanatic Forum.Be sure to check back there for ThatF1Blog article news and thanks to everyone who took part (sadly I couldn't mention everyone in this article).


  1. Sadly Detroit is not worth going back to. It's been in a slump for ages and I doubt would make any money off of F1, particularly as the crime problems would scare away a lot of out-of-towners. And from personal experience the land border agents are complete assholes.

  2. good article!

    hopefully Albert Park can stay on the calendar for some more years, though the approval rating from the locals seems to be lowering all the time..

  3. Hang on Jonny, YOU created and edited all of this?!!?!?!

    Higgles x