I always wonder about the rich vocabulary used to describe turns in English. There are the obvious ones like hairpin, chicane, kink and such, but then there are nuances like bend, sweeper, curve, turn, corner and maybe more... I know they are not completely interchangeable (at least not all of them) since I've noticed some consensus in usage between native speakers. Can any of you explain (or link to an explanation of) the differences?
Sorry if it's been discussed before, I do try to follow the thread but I won't claim to have read and remembered all 42 pages.
I don't think there's any real dictionary definitions, but here is what I would go with:
Turn = any change in direction of any degree
Bend = a slight left or right, but less than 90 degrees
Sweeper = same as above
Curve = same as above
Corner = a turn of roughly 90 degrees
Kink = a noticeably slighter change in direction in the middle of a straight
Esses (or "S's") = easy enough, any part of the track that roughly makes an S shape
Loop = generally used for an area of the track that can be connected and made into it's own, smaller track (such as the West
courses at Suzuka)
Chicane = any forced change in direction that slows you down on a part of the track that would otherwise be straight (can be extra track, or hay bales/obstacles placed on the existing tarmac, like in hillclimbing)
Bus Stop chicane = chicane with specific "D" shape
Chicane is often used for any slow part of a track, which is stupid. A chicane might take the same dimensions as a regular set of corners, but it's not a chicane unless it's either extra road where the original track was straight, or an obstacle that breaks the racing line. This is the bus stop chicane at the old Spa:
Chicanes don't need to be extra pavement, they can be obstacles that break the racing line:
Some tracks get to a point where the chicane is the usual route, like the old Fuji did. I doubt anyone is going to call you out over the semantics so I wouldn't worry about that. The only circumstance I can think of where it's reasonable to describe a section of track as a chicane if it isn't an extra bit of road is when the original track has been destroyed and a slow set of curves built over it.
Esses can be tricky if you don't speak English as a first language because some tracks are lazy and name corners "the esses" even when they really aren't.
A lot of those terms can be used interchangeably, it's just that it's always better to be accurate and if you have perfect words like "hairpin" or "kink" to describe a section of track, it makes sense to use them, and save bland, catch-all words like "turn" for other parts of the track that have no better adjective. When in doubt, "turn" would be the best word to go with since a track is usually said to have "9 turns" or "14 turns" on it.
Edited by Andrew Hope, 05 July 2013 - 17:14.