Turn, Turn, Turn: The best Formula One corners 26 Oct 2010
Corners matter. Yes, straight-line speed is important, but ultimately it is how quickly a car and driver can corner that dictates that all-important lap time. But what makes a great corner? It is, of course, a very subjective issue. The new Korea International Circuit threw up a few at the weekend, but it is a little too soon to dub them classics. For those, most drivers will refer you to the likes of Spa-Francorchamps, Suzuka and Istanbul Park
Japanese Grand Prix - Suzukas 130R
The list had to include at least one corner from Suzuka, the famous figure-of-eight track that many drivers cite as their favourite on the calendar, and narrowing it down to the high-speed 130R proved tough, with the famous Spoon Curve a very close second. Named after the corners radius, the 130R is one of the fastest in Formula One racing. Although modifications made in 2003 mean taking it at full throttle is not quite the challenge it once was, jinking left in seventh gear at speeds in excess of 310 km/h remains a supreme test of both car and driver, with a lateral cornering force of up to 6G. 130Rs unforgiving nature is why the drivers love it. Precision is key, even when taken at relatively low speed, as Lucas di Grassi found to his cost recently when he trashed his Virgin there on his out-lap to the grid.
130R is one of the fastest corners in Formula One and you really have to think about how you approach it. McLarens Jenson Button.
Italian Grand Prix - Monzas Parabolica
Monza may be known as the temple of speed, but sprinkled amongst its epically long straights are some equally legendary corners - including the majestic Parabolica. Its the tracks final turn and at 180 degrees, cars can experience apex speeds in excess of 200km/h and lateral acceleration for close to 450 metres. It leads onto Monzas 1.3-km main straight, so its paramount for drivers to make a good exit in order to maximise their top speed before they brake for Turn One, the Rettifilo chicane, which is the best spot on the circuit for overtaking. The challenge of Parabolica is to brake as late as possible but then also get back on the power before the apex. Guaranteed to sort the men from the boys.
Parabolica, is quite special. It's a difficult one to get right. You can always go faster there than you actually do. 1997 world champion, Jacques Villeneuve.
Turkish Grand Prix - Istanbul Parks Turn Eight
It may be part of one of the newest tracks - Istanbul Park - but Turn Eight punches well above its weight, and is already challenging the establishment thanks to its fearsome reputation. It boasts top speeds of 270 km/h, four apices (though the drivers treat it as two), bumps, and is one of the longest on the calendar, meaning cars (and therefore drivers) pull up to 5G for over seven seconds through this left-hander, which makes it one of the most physical corners to race in the world. It seems they are a masochistic lot, Formula One drivers. If they get it right, they can make up a lot of ground, but thanks to the bumpy surface its very easy to get it wrong. A true test of driver skill and precision - Turn Eights name clearly doesnt do this corner justice.
Its a real rollercoaster and is awesome. Force India driver, Adrian Sutil.
Belgian Grand Prix - Spa-Francorchamps Eau Rouge
Arguably the most famous corner of them all. The whole Belgian track is dictated by its natural surroundings, and nowhere is this more apparent than at Eau Rouge. Drivers switch left to right and go up and down through this legendary stretch of tarmac. Even though modern downforce levels have made it easier to handle in recent years - its now pretty much flat-out for those in front-running cars - it remains just as thrilling and just as critical to a fast lap. Grip and a sympathetic suspension set-up are essential, as is nerve - the sheer scale and gradient of the thing (something television pictures struggle to convey) is enough to test even the most bold.
The drivers love the fast sweeping corners, including the legendary Eau Rouge. Mercedes GP team principal, Ross Brawn.
British Grand Prix - Silverstones Becketts
If youre looking for great corners, Silverstone provides a veritable smorgasbord, and Becketts is just one that has stood the test of time through the UK circuits various transitions. Midway through the lap, its a multi-turn complex, which boasts high speeds and demands skilful handling. Drivers try not to touch their brakes throughout this slalom ride, and instead simply lift the throttle as they swerve through. They can experience loads of about 4G as they progress. Quite a rollercoaster ride!
I always liked the old track layout with the high-speed sections, particularly the Becketts complex that is a real challenge as you need to keep the momentum all the way through the corners. Force Indias Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Brazilian Grand Prix - Interlagoss Mergulho
Extremes rule at Interlagos, with one of the calendars longest straights, some of its slowest hairpins and multiple gradient changes just some of its unique features. One part that stands out is the fifth-gear left-hander of Mergulho. Its the lowest part of the circuit, and is a thrilling ride on the limit, made all the more exciting by the characteristic bumps on its apex. Another firm favourite at the track, deserving an honourable mention, is the Curva Do Laranjinha.
You need to have total confidence in your car and a good mechanical set-up with a high ride-height to manage the bumpy surface. Williams Rubens Barrichello.
Monaco Grand Prix - Monte Carlos Grand Hotel Hairpin
Its tough to single out just one corner on this legendary street track, but weve narrowed it down to Turn Six, more commonly known as the Grand Hotel Hairpin (formerly Loews). Although it must be the slowest (and is certainly the tightest) corner on the calendar, this hairpin presents its own unique challenge. Taken at under 50 km/h in first gear, before it sends you plunging downwards towards Portier and the tunnel, it requires full steering lock - some teams even have to modify their steering racks to make the corner - and as much concentration as a driver can muster. It distils the very essence of Monaco. And believe it or not, you even see overtaking here, especially on the opening lap when tyres, brakes (and brains) may not be quite up to temperature.
It's quite a technical corner. It's important to hit the apex so you don't lose too much time through this part of the lap." Ferraris Fernando Alonso.
Canadian Grand Prix - Montreals Wall of Champions
Turn 12 in Montreal achieved legendary status in 1999 when a trio of former world champions - Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve - all lost control on the exit and crashed into the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuves unforgiving concrete walls during the race. Theres no doubt the tracks fierce speed has something to do with it. After spending over 15 seconds flat out along its longest straight, drivers must then brake from well over 300km/h for this final, critical chicane. Of course its a case of the later the better, but because theres such a slim margin for error, running on the edge rarely means more than it does here.
You have to be careful because things can go wrong very quickly. A small mistake and you'll be in the 'Wall of Champions' before you know it. Former F1 driver, now FIA stewards advisor, Alex Wurz.
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