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A great track, what does it take?


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#1 Poltergeistes

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 04:00

I thought about it seeing the new Portimao track biult in portugal, and also seeing what is supposed to be the Yas circuit track, and right after that I thought, Portimao would make a great F1 race, Abu dhabi wouldn't! and here are my reasons.

Portimao has the elevation changes, though not too drastic, but still good enough to give the drivers some blind turns, it has a good mix of high speed turns, left and right, and i thought Abu dhabi lacked all of this.

Abu dhabi track is this: long straight, very slow speed turn, straight, slow speed turn, that is all, It will be an island dedicated mainly to racing, it will attempt to make you feel like you are on vacation in paradise, with sunshine, palm trees, blue sea, it will give you the idea of glamour with breath taking biuldings, and dependencies never before seen anywhere, state of the art archtecture really, an oasis for races, all planned around racing, with gokart tracks everywhere, cars everywhere, even a ferrari world theme park.

Yet Abu Dhabi will lack the most important thing about a F1 race, the actual race itself, which will probably be boring, for the track has nothing challenging about it, all the views and all the oasis feeling, will not make up for the lack of action on track.

They may throw a great party, but I'm not sure they can deliver us the turns, the uphill's and downhill's and surprises of the best racing tracks we have around the world. where something is always waiting to happen just after the corner.

It got me wondering why we are losing the races that are being taken from F1 sacred countries, is F1 trying to run away from Great Britain because bernie can't get them to biuld a place like Yas island instead of one like Portimao? where you have all the safety, all the great depedencies, fans will be confortable, but it will lack the other 50 billion dollars that Yas spent?!

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#2 Racer Joe

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 04:38

Portimao will get an F1 race if and when the Portuguese wants to pay the F1 commercial rights holder 30-40 million USD a race each year for a duration of 5 years (10% increase each year) with the agreement backed by a bank guarantee for the fees for the full 5 years.

#3 1fastSS

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 04:57

I takes a designer to look at a track like Spa and to realize that anything else is LAME!!! Plus what Racer Joe said.

#4 Craven Morehead

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 06:35

Two words: Eau Rough

If your track has that, then it's prolly pretty damn good methinks

#5 wingwalker

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 07:02

A track fun to drive on is not the same as track which produces good races. For a good race, F1 needs long straights connected with hairpins/chicanes, with as little fast turns as possible. Or real turns, even. This is why Canada was such a great place to run a F1 race on and yet was near the bottom of my favourite circuits in F1 Challenge.

#6 Craven Morehead

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 07:05

For a good race, F1 needs long straights connected with hairpins/chicanes, with as little fast turns as possible.



We'll have to agree to disagree on this bit. I'm sick to death of the 'modern' stop & go tracks with no flow.

#7 leomax

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 07:10

It wont have 'Tilke' anywhere in it.

#8 jeze

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 08:24

Sepang is a little bit of both, which makes it quite a good track. Of course it's possible to manfacture elevation changes as in Turkey, but in Abu Dhabi they seem to have gone for a quite flat layout to improve viewing. I have heard that there should be an Eau Rouge-similar corner in Turn 3/4. Isn't that correct?

#9 RoutariEnjinu

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 08:31

I think it's as simple as the use of vertical space.

What would Eau Rouge be like in 2 dimensions?
What would the corkscrew at Laguna Seca be like in 2 dimensions?

It's what makes the Nurburgrings north loop interesting. It made the long straight at Le Man interesting before they smoothed it out. It's what makes Monaco interesting versus Singapore, Valencia and Abadabbadoo.

These super modern tracks are too two-dimensional.

#10 Lopek

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 09:14

A great track takes an existing environment and enhances it by windings it way through the natural gradients and contours of the land. New F1 tracks recently have been all about finding a crap bit of land, bulldozing every bit of existing character flat and creating something even more bland in it's place.

Spa, Le Mans, Bathurst, etc are all great as much because of the track layout as they are because of the landscape around the tracks.

The only modern track that comes near to Spa is the new San Luis Circuit in Argentina that the FIA GTs raced last year. Will never be used for F1 as does not meet the criteria unfortunately.

#11 rookie

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 09:29

Originally posted by leomax
It wont have 'Tilke' anywhere in it.


I like most of the Tilke tracks. I don't see a reason for all the anti-Tilke sentiment.

The racing in Malaysia was alright last week wasn't it? Turkey is cool, even if it doesnt generate overtaking, the triple left is an awesome corner.

Shanghai is not offensive, it's got some interesting corners. Plus didn't he have to make it look like a chinese character when viewed from above? If so, Kind of limits the options.

On topic - As RoutariEnjinu said a bit of elevation goes a long way me thinks.

#12 The Lonely

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 09:34

Sepang is ok, the rest are pretty poor. Turkey has half a lap of decent stuff.

The thing is, the tracks dont have any charachter or uniqueness. They're just bland generic new tracks. With the same types of corners rearranged into a different order.

#13 MikeTekRacing

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 09:39

Originally posted by The Lonely
Sepang is ok, the rest are pretty poor. Turkey has half a lap of decent stuff.

The thing is, the tracks dont have any charachter or uniqueness. They're just bland generic new tracks. With the same types of corners rearranged into a different order.

you should ask lewis about the uniqueness of Turkey..he seems to have a unique problem in a specific turn there ;)

they are all unique, but they are too new and too many for us to see the differences.
What makes a good track? In the view of some fans just the history behind.

#14 stevewf1

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 09:44

Originally posted by 1fastSS
I takes a designer to look at a track like Spa and to realize that anything else is LAME!!! Plus what Racer Joe said.


Up until fairly recently, a place like Spa wasn't designed to be a race circuit... It was a collection of public roads linked together.

#15 The Lonely

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 10:07

Originally posted by MikeTekRacing

you should ask lewis about the uniqueness of Turkey..he seems to have a unique problem in a specific turn there ;)

they are all unique, but they are too new and too many for us to see the differences.
What makes a good track? In the view of some fans just the history behind.


Look at the lap before T8, basically bland 2nd/3rd gear chicane after bland 2nd/3rd gear chicane. And then there is the mickey mouse final few turns too. T8 and the following few turns (the chicane at the bottom of the hill and the fast right kink on the straight down to the final turns). Although T8 isn't that great a challenge anyway, not in todays cars with ultra high downforce, perhaps 10 years ago when it would have had gravel outside it, it would have been quite possibly the best turn on the calendar. But like Eau Rouge it has been sanitised due to the cars and the tarmac run offs.

As a whole track Sepang is superior, just Istanbul gets more praise because of 1 turn.

#16 GerardF1

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 10:32

For a track to be great it takes a lot of things:

Length - gives it time to be unique and get in corners and corner complexes that are memorable. Monaco is the exception that proves the rule.

Elevation change - as someone noted above what would Eau Rouge or the Corkscrew be if they were flatter

Avoiding using the same designer over and over and over

Lastly something that no one can design into a track - History. Part of what is loved about Spa and Monaco is the history - and that is something no one - not even Tilke - can design into a place.

#17 Vice::

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 12:07

Uphills and downhills. Wide parts and narrower parts. Fast corners and some slower ones too. Those are things what a great racing track needs.

#18 stevvy1986

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 12:16

bit of everything needed

fast corners, slow corners, long-ish straights, elevation changes, even a bit of banking perhaps, genuinely challenging corners that test driver and car to the limit (and though this isn't related to the track as such, having it somewhere with a bit of character and full of fans would be good, rather than races with nothing distinctive in the area and half full grandstands with no atmosphere)

#19 Peter Perfect

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 12:33

Variety

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#20 The Lonely

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 12:39

Off Camber turns are always great too.

#21 Frans

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 12:40

yeah, full speed corners what go down and up, lot's of Belgium beer around the track and there you have it.

The best of the best track.

#22 Roger39

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 12:46

The old Kyalami was a cracker....

#23 bogi

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 12:55

A1 ring, nothing more :love:



#24 MichaelJP

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 12:58

Yes, a great track needs:

- Elevation changes

- Camber changes

- Turn radius changes

- Width changes, narrow to wide and vice versa.

- Surface changes especially bumps. Modern circuits are way too smooth.

- Minimum of run-off. Acres of run-off cause the circuit to lose definition and sense of speed. Cars are safe enough now, let them handle the impact. Obviously Bernie now agrees hence approval for tracks such as Valencia and Singapore.

Basically, variety, which is exactly what the rules dictate against. Also teams hate it because they can't model the track so easily and makes the engineers job much harder.

#25 Rosemayer

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 13:16

Originally posted by rookie


I like most of the Tilke tracks. I don't see a reason for all the anti-Tilke sentiment.

The racing in Malaysia was alright last week wasn't it? Turkey is cool, even if it doesnt generate overtaking, the triple left is an awesome corner.

Shanghai is not offensive, it's got some interesting corners. Plus didn't he have to make it look like a chinese character when viewed from above? If so, Kind of limits the options.

On topic - As RoutariEnjinu said a bit of elevation goes a long way me thinks.


You definitely are a Rookie get on your computer and look at the old tracks like the Ring,the old Spa circuit,Reims,Watkins Glen,Check out the following.




http://www.gdecarli....p?var1=1&var2=2

#26 eoin

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 13:19

A good race.

#27 Flexa

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 13:23

Interlagos and Suzuka are also great circuits IMO.

#28 rookie

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 13:56

Originally posted by Rosemayer


You definitely are a Rookie get on your computer and look at the old tracks like the Ring,the old Spa circuit,Reims,Watkins Glen,Check out the following.




http://www.gdecarli....p?var1=1&var2=2


Yeah I'm a big fan of the Glen, and have been to the Ring as a pilgrimage. Loved it.

I was referring to the poster who said "I won't have Tilke anywhere in it" and pointing out I don't get why there is an anti Tilke sentiment, most of his tracks are interesting to me and usually generate good racing. I wasn't saying they fall into the greatest tracks in the world.

My contribution to the topic was at the bottom of my post, but I'll repeat in case it was missed -

Elevation changes goes a long way to making a track great for me.

#29 Seanspeed

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 15:07

Originally posted by wingwalker
A track fun to drive on is not the same as track which produces good races.

Thats a very important distinction that should be made, and one which I dont think many people realize.

Barcelona, Hungary, Magny-Cours - all hated tracks. But they are all very fun to drive. So why are they hated? Because the races tend to be boring there. Why is that? Because they dont facilitate overtaking.

Fair enough.

But then why do fun tracks like Suzuka and Silverstone get praise? They aren't exactly Mecca's of overtaking. Because they offer some classic sections and some real history. Silverstone's history goes way back and Suzuka's history came largely from being an important race at the end of the calendar for a lot of seasons.

So basically, any new track cant have that same kind of history and must rely on its merits alone as a track. What kind of merits would they be?

- Well first off, a track NEEDS to be able to facilitate overtaking. Its absolutely mandatory. Keep in mind I use the phrase 'facilitate overtaking', and not 'produce' or 'generate', which are often inaccurately used. A track cannot produce overtaking, only allow it. No track is immune to a boring race, and there's nothing a track can do short of a sprinkler system and tire snipers to spice up a procession. And processions are the natural order of a motorsports race, whose starting grid is determined by qualifying. The faster guys pull away, while the slower guys fall back. Only when things go wrong for teams/drivers or when the weather gods intervene do we see exciting racing.

So what we can ask for is a nice long straight ending in a hard braking zone. Preferably one started by a slow-to-medium speed corner, so as to not affect the turbulence of a following car too much. Two long straights are even better. Two overtaking opportunities are better than one! Also, it definitely makes a nice touch to have a section that quickly changes direction after the hard braking zone. This way, different lines can be taken and even the passer has to be careful not to get repassed going into the next section.

- Another important aspect is difficulty. If there's one thing that I think Valencia failed at, its in this department. If a track is easy, very few mistakes are made. Not only does this make it very difficult to pass somebody, it also reduces the chances of a safety car being thrown in to mix or close things up.

Difficulty can be presented through a number of ways. I'm not a big fan of high curbs, but they definitely make a challenge for not only the drivers, but also the engineers who need to design and setup a car to handle them. Near-flat corners are my favorite. These require real commitment with the line between brave and stupid being a few mph. Then there's bumpiness. This usually isn't an inherent design characteristic, but they do play their part in making things difficult, mainly for temporary circuits that are run at least partly on normal roads.

- Then we have gradients. Personally, I dont believe a track needs to have these massive changes in elevation like Spa or the Nurburgring(Nordschleife) to be interesting, but *some* definitely helps. I'd say gradient is for the fun more than anything, but it can also add to difficulty. Blind corners with apexes on the crest present a major challenge, as does setting up the car for the rises/falls/cambers.

- Flow is an important factor for a track to be fun to drive. I especially like tracks that have high-speed *sections* followed by slower *sections*, and not ones that are simply a string of randomly different corners. It needs to have a 'feel' and a real character. This is probably the most intangible of the qualities of a good track, but its necessary. This is where I think Tilke's tracks fall short. They're not necessarily bad, but lack that something that would ever make them 'classics'.

- And last, and definitely least, is the backdrop/environment/facilities/etc.. These are things that can enhance the mood of the race, but dont necessarily add to the racing/driving itself. Running through the trees at Monza or Spa is definitely a sight, as is running through the streets of Monaco or Singapore. Abu Dhabi looks like it'll be a very pretty place, too, as long as they keep the cranes and deserts in the background hidden.

So, combine all of these aspects into a race track, and I will not be able to complain.

#30 Rosemayer

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 15:54

Might actually work again.

http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

#31 Atreiu

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 16:46

It's a mix of fast corners, elevation changes, long straights, and only the necessary ammount of slow corners and chincanes.

- Sepang isn't so bad, but it has too many slow corners;
- Bahrian is a good track, but it's like Tilke added a slow corner everywhere possible and forgot about the rest;
- China is another track of a vast lanscape and somewhat wasted potential. Why the hell is there a chincane in front of the banked corner? Did Tilke ever watch some of the old races and take notice of the Peraltada???

Spa is fantastic not only because of Eau Rouge. The whole second sector has a great variety of corners without useless chincanes or awkward hairpins. Suzuka and Brands Hatch both have much more turning around than running in a straight line, but they are not cramped in second gear corners and hairpins.

And yes, you can have tracks are good to drive and also give good and great races.

#32 stevewf1

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 17:05

Originally posted by Rosemayer
You definitely are a Rookie get on your computer and look at the old tracks like the Ring,the old Spa circuit,Reims,Watkins Glen,Check out the following.

http://www.gdecarli....p?var1=1&var2=2


While it's not as fancy, there's also this site: http://www.etracksonline.co.uk/

#33 Uwe

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 22:47

Originally posted by Rosemayer
You definitely are a Rookie get on your computer and look at the old tracks like the Ring,the old Spa circuit,Reims,Watkins Glen,Check out the following.

:rolleyes:

It is up to everybody if he likes the tracks of Tilke or if he does not. But accusing someone of having no clue if he doesn't have the same opinion as oneself does smell of intolerance especially when you can't support it with better arguments than "look at blablabla...".

Btw, I think as well Tilke's tracks aren't too bad as they have delivered good racing so far, better than for instance Imola or (god forbid) the old Hockenheim. And just for the record - I have a three-digit number of laps on the Nordschleife under my belt, mostly in my Caterham (in RL, not on the computer). Am I a rookie too now?

#34 Poltergeistes

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 23:24

I been noticing there are some tracks out there that fits all the discriptions needed to have a good race, it's no wonder they always do have great races, and people are always naming them top, it's always spa, suzuka and interlagos and some others althou they don't have the facilities of a very modern sepang or nurburgring, they have all the challenges you need to have a good race, and they have history, alot of history, and of course the fans that always sells out the entire track is always in the right mood for a f1 race, i'm so glad we have suzuka back.

Of the newer ones i probably like sepang the best... this season's race was really fun. turkey do have some good and challenging blind corners.

I can't get over the fact that they might dump silverstone, to me it would be a major mistake, the british f1 fans are one of the most loyal fans, they might have a growing market in asia, but in the americas and europe, it's where they have the fans that basically stays there season after season, no matter how crazy bernie and max makes things, no matter the price they make they pay, in some cases like north america now, no race at all. I can hardly blame them for not having a race in indianapolis, even thou it's one of those lengendary places of motorracing, the truth is the f1 layout just sucks, laguna seca on the other hand... would make far more interesting, but montreal had good races, the chicanes that everywhere else is boring, aren't boring in canada, because they have walls around em.

PS I like the sepang aproach of having a stick bar on many corners just so the drivers knows where not to cut the corners too much or they will lose their front wing. I do not understand why they won't have similar barriers on some chicanes, so if anyone would try to drive thru them, they could lose their front wings. I think that action would be better than to let it happen like spa, and punish the driver way too late. they don't need to have the stick like they do in sepang, but put barriers there in a way where the driver would have to drive around them, making him lose more time than he would lose if he would just brake to drive the track properly.

#35 Direct Drive

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 00:28

High speed, flat out last corner leading onto a long straight with a dead stop hairpin at the end; blind apexes, wide pavement for room for a line and a "half;" racing in inclement weather NOT behind some pace car; in short, the old Nurburgring, Watkins Glen, Road America, Spa in the wet, Brands, Silverstone in the original configuration with flat out corners, Monza before the chicanes. And is it Turkey with the 4 apex corner? Pretty awesome for a new circuit, that one.

#36 917k

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 00:47

Character often comes from trees or other landscape features close to the track. In todays ''safe'' mode, this is a non starter.

Pity, but it is what it is.

#37 RSNS

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 00:54

For me, the most striking feature is a complex of fast corners with elevation changes actually in the corners.

Also, rather cambered fast corners.

But this doesn't mean good races, only beautiful car cornering.

For good races you must also have some hairpins that allow overtaking and a rather broad road (and... (cough...) a limitation on downforce, which is unlikely to happen now).

I don't like to fear too much for the drivers, so I'd add very large run off areas.

As said, a beautiful green scenery helps a lot.

I find all of these brought together at Portimão.

#38 RaoulDuke

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 02:59

Originally posted by Craven Morehead
Two words: Eau Rough

If your track has that, then it's prolly pretty damn good methinks


To fellow yanks, Eau Rough is what Jacques Villeneuve did to Eau Rouge in 1999...



...but I agree with you. Spa is an epic track with an epic section of tarmac at the Eau Rouge complex.

#39 pingu666

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 08:32

think ill add, a sence of place, and a sence of chance :eek:

i mean stuff like eu rouge, several of the silverstone turns, just happen tobe like they are, more or less by chance...

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#40 MichaelJP

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 09:10

Originally posted by 917k
Character often comes from trees or other landscape features close to the track. In todays ''safe'' mode, this is a non starter.
Pity, but it is what it is.


But street tracks like Singapore and Valencia (and of course Monaco) obviously have scenery very close to the circuit and are FIA approved so why do new tracks have to have such vast expanses of character-destroying run-off?

Now that the cars are so much safer armco barriers do the job well enough.

#41 27GV

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 14:59

Basically the more "natural" the design the better; taking in elevation and the like. Also a good one is a sense of flow. I'd say one of the biggest though is a sense of consequence, the track itself must be a test.

Back in the day it was as much a fight of man against track as it was car against car; however with just bales of hay between you and death it wasn't really a fair fight. :