Top Five: Worst F1 Circuits

12 08 2009

After last week’s classic F1 circuits, we have the dregs, those that were/are just plain crap.

1. Dallas

Look at how exciting a track it is… yeah. Holding just one race; the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix, the track was uninspiring at best, but it had a bigger problem. Scheduled in the height of summer, the heat became a major issue, and the question was what would break first; the cars, drivers, or the track? The track did, with the surface breaking up after only a few laps of free practice. After qualifying and a 50-lap Can-Am support race on the Saturday. Sunday’s free practice was abandoned, and the race start was brought forward to 11am to avoid the worst of the heat, but the track was only repaired at 10.30. It didn’t help, the track temperature hit around 66º Celsius, and the track soon broke up again. There were only eight finishers in a field of 25, many spun off due to the track surface… I say finishers, but Nigel Mansell collapsed after having to push his Lotus over the line for sixth place. US build quality at its best.

2. Nivelles-Baulers

The Belgians built Spa, but they also built this stinker outside of Brussels. Built in 1971 as the safe alternative to Spa, it held the Belgian GP in 1972 and 1974. The drivers hated it because it was almost completely flat and unchallenging, the spectators hated it because the massive run off areas meant they couldn’t see anything. Ironically, the “safe Spa” wasn’t allowed to host the 1976 Belgian GP it was supposed to for safety reasons, the asphalt was in a terrible condition. The track promoter went bust in 1974, and lack of investment meant the track was closed to cars in 1980, and motorcycles in 1981. Razed to the ground in the 1990s, it now lies beneath an industrial estate.

3. AVUS

Built in Berlin, the track is historically very interesting, and used for speed records, the track itself was extremely dull. Essentially it’s two straights comprised of dual-carriageways, and two banked hairpins, it hosted only one World Championship in 1959. The race itself was unique in the fact it was run over two heats (like the F3 Macau GP), which has never happened in F1 before or since, but the track is so dull therefore making the list. You can still drive on the straights though, it comprises part of Bundesautobahn 115.

4. Fuji

Hosting the Japanese GP in 1976, 1977, 2007, and 2008, this track is on the list for one reason only: it’s not Suzuka. Japan has one of the world’s best circuits, and due to the infinite wisdom of Bernie Ecclestone we didn’t go there or the past two years, we even watched the safety car lead for far too many laps in 2007, and the whole time we dreamed of Suzuka. At least we’re going back to Suzuka this year, and Fuji isn’t coming back.

5. Valencia

I may be judging it harshly, but of Tilke’s appalling tracks, I think this is the worst. Naturally, as a street circuit, you can’t overtake, but in the interests of safety, the walls are far enough away to make them hard to hit, so the only happenings of interest are in the pits. Cheers Hermann for making sure that we have two processional races in Spain every year. Yay.

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