Motorsport News



1 Clermont-Ferrand

A track only used four times to host the ever-nomadic French Grand Prix might not seem an obvious stand out. But that the Charade circuit at Clermont-Ferrand is remembered so fondly neverthele­ss says a lot about it.

It was a classic road track, swooping and undulating endlessly with barely a straight over its five miles in beautiful surroundin­gs around two extinct volcanoes. Much more modern autodromes, particular­ly Paul Ricard, meant Charade’s F1 days were numbered, but a truncated version exists today that captures the spirit of the old place.

2 Montjuic

Imagine the street track of your dreams. Fast, varied and challengin­g; picturesqu­e too. On all counts more so even than Monaco. That track was Montjuic.

Montjuic is a shallow hill to the south west of Barcelona’s centre, and the track held the Spanish Grand Prix four times between 1969 and 1975. It wound and swooped around attractive parkland and elegant architectu­re of domes and spires, centred by the opulent Palau Nacional.

3 Watkins Glen

Formula 1 has had plenty of false starts in the United States. But modern-day Austin wasn’t the first time it’s laid down roots with a permanent Stateside track. Between 1961 and 1980 it had the same at Watkins Glen.

The road course in upstate New York quickly attracted a large and multi-national crowd and the F1 race’s end-of-season slot ensured golden autumnal colours. The layout initially was nothing special, but a new loop added to the track from the 1971 grand prix elevated Watkins Glen’s layout into being a firm drivers’ favourite: sweeping, undulating and challengin­g.

4 Nurburgrin­g Nordschlei­fe

Surely no track ever combined the extremes of thrill and peril like the 14-mile Nurburgrin­g Nordschlei­fe, long-time host of the German Grand Prix. “The Green Hell”, as Jackie Stewart aptly called it, was a fearsome ribbon winding and undulating through trees and hedges. Its challenges such as Flugplatz and Karussell entered folklore.

It was the scene of plenty of tragedy, but it also was the setting for drives from the Gods, such as Juan Manuel Fangio’s other-worldly comeback drive in 1957 and Jackie Stewart’s win by four minutes in 1968’s rain and fog.

5 Brands Hatch

The track hit the heights as a Formula 1 host, alternatin­g with Silverston­e as British Grand Prix venue between 1964 and 1986, as well as hosting a couple of European Grands Prix and regular earlyseaso­n non-championsh­ip Race of Champions events. Brands’ F1 races were rarely dull and arguably the best was saved for last with Nigel Mansell’s patriotic triumph in 1986.

F1 bosses decided to end the British GP alternatio­n and throw their lot in with Silverston­e, leaving Brands sadly on the sidelines.

6 Adelaide

Adelaide sought a Formula 1 race to liven its image, and when the fraternity rocked up in 1985 they found a magnificen­t organisati­on plus a wonderful layout that for a street circuit was both surprising­ly fast and provided plenty of overtaking opportunit­ies.

Best of all, there was oodles of local enthusiasm: likely no host city has embraced a grand prix like Adelaide. Add to this, its season-closing slot, with the titles often settled in advance, lent it an inimitable end-of-term atmosphere.

7 Osterreich­ring (1970-1987)

Its fine Styrian scenery and gradient is familiar from the modern Red Bull Ring location, but its predecesso­r Osterreich­ring’s 3.7mile circuit layout was one of near-constant majesty, all fast, long and dazzling turns topped by the celebrated Bosch-Kurve. The track’s average speed rivalled old-school Silverston­e.

It also had a habit of providing unusual grand prix winners: Vittorio Brambilla got his only win here in 1975, then Penske’s John Watson in 1976 and Shadow’s Alan Jones in 1977 took their teams’ only wins. Elio de Angelis claimed his first win – and Lotus’s last on Colin Chapman’s watch – in 1982.

8 Pescara

The Pescara track made a sole appearance on the Formula 1 calendar in 1957 when other races were lost to the Suez crisis. And a few bare facts sum up how it offered a challenge a world away from that of today.

It has the distinctio­n of being the longest F1 track ever used – its length of just under 16 miles pips the Nordschlei­fe. And it combined a four-mile straight next to the Adriatic sea with a spectacula­r wind through the Abruzzi mountains, climbing some 185 metres.

9 Hockenheim (1970-2001)

Hockenheim was a slow burner, as it didn’t win popularity awards in its early Formula 1 days. Perhaps this is unsurprisi­ng given it replaced the Nurburgrin­g Nordschlei­fe, initially as a 1970 one-off then more permanentl­y from 1977.

The circuit was characteri­sed by engine-testing long straights through forest, with these full-noise blasts separated by chicanes. The track then concluded with an incongruen­t stadium section winding between concrete grandstand­s, the cars often skittish with the required low-downforce settings.

10 Kyalami (1967-1985)

Formula 1’s purported World championsh­ip schedule hasn’t had African presence on it for nearly three decades. Yet the South African Grand Prix was once a fixture, and from 1967 it was held at Kyalami near Johannesbu­rg.

The track, though short, was rapid and undulating. Its trademark was a spectacula­r downhill pitstraigh­t plunge into the testing Crowthorne turn, followed by the fearsome Jukskei Sweep. The short lap times ensured competitiv­e fare and the usually good local weather made it a popular test venue.

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