With Azerbaijan and Canada back to back once again, with both circuits featuring two of the toughest corners ever tackled in an F1 car, we asked our contributors for the toughest corners in the history of the Formula 1…
Suzuka’s 130R, so named for its metric radius, is a left-hander that follows a long drag from the Spoon Curve and is approached at nearly 200 mph in eighth gear. At its peak in the 80s and 90s, it was a very fast and bumpy test of a driver’s mettle, the scene of very committed and dramatic overtaking, and regularly biting the unwary. Following Allan McNish’s serious crash in 2002, it was modified with a tarmac runoff area and, like the Eau Rouge, is now usually taken flat in today’s high downforce F1 cars , although absolute precision is still as essential as a heavy right foot.
F1 Hall of Fame journalist David Tremayne
Japan 1995 – 130R – Alesi passes Herbert
Wall of Champions, Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve
There are so many incredible and iconic corners on the F1 calendar, but what I love about Turns 13 and 14 – the final chicane – in Montreal is their simplicity. A long straight in a big braking zone, hard curbs and a wall just waiting to punish any mistake.
It may not look exciting on paper, but when he won Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve in the same race weekend, it is clearly a challenge.
That weekend in 1999 gave me the impression that any driver could go wrong at any time, with the lingering temptation to try to carry a little more speed down the pit straight to complete a lap. .
Chris Medland, Special Contributor
Canada’s Wall of Champions – who will be the next victim?
Curva Alboreto, Monza
The fast and famous final corner of Monza, formerly known as Parabolica; a circuit that requires full commitment and skill to complete a lap of the ultimate low-downforce circuit, where the cars are notoriously temperamental. In the past it was bypassed by gravel and to get the lap time you had to run outside as the speed increased, a few millimeters from the gravel and then the walls beyond, pressing the power as soon as possible for the long drag to the line.
Somewhat calmed down now by asphalt runoff and renamed Curva Alboreto last year, it’s still a challenge, but the sheer peril of the bend is perhaps reduced compared to the days of yore.
Jolyon Palmer, special contributor and former F1 driver
2020 Italian Grand Prix: Leclerc destroys Ferrari in huge crash at Monza
Paddock Hill Bend, Brands Hatch
It’s a bit of an anachronism, given that it hasn’t appeared on the F1 calendar since 1986, but for me the Paddock Hill Bend at Brands Hatch remains one of the most magical and unique corners in F1 and motorsport. The joy of track days means I had the pleasure of experiencing Paddock Hill Bend myself, and even in a Volkswagen Golf I can confirm it was terrifying. What it must have been like in a mid-80s turbocharged F1 with qualifying tires and full boost is beyond my knowledge.
Greg Stuart, Editor
Spa-Francorchamps is home to a plethora of extraordinary corners, but one of the most formidable is Blanchimont. It’s a ruthless double-left, taken at very high speed (possibly flat out depending on the quality of your car) and there’s very little clearance. It takes courage and total commitment. It’s an absolute beast. Max Verstappen tamed it beautifully in his first year in 2015, hooking his Toro Rosso outside of Felipe Nasr’s Sauber to pull off one of the greatest overtakes of all time. Remarkably, he revealed after the race that he had trained and pulled off that exact move in a sim race the week before.
Lawrence Barretto, F1 correspondent and presenter
Verstappen overtakes Nasr at Blanchimont during the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix
Degner 1 & 2, Suzuka
The hardest corners are hard to separate from the ones we consider the best or most iconic. For me, they must represent the most powerful challenge. The change in direction at Maggots and Becketts is worth noting here, as is that downhill turn at 11 in Bahrain. The Singapore Sling has always surprised people at the start and Turn 14 could be notoriously difficult in Sepang. You could write an entire article about the Nordschleife, but the particularly difficult corners were Schwedenkreuz, Bergwerk, Aremberg and Pflanzgarten II.
Rarely have I been more impressed, however, than standing on the hill inside Degner at Suzuka. The commitment required is enormous and each of the turns is unique. Slightly different camber, slightly different angle, and go too hot for either and you’re done. Key to a grand tour, destroyer of legends, a magnificent challenge on a magnificent circuit.
Will Buxton, F1 digital presenter
FP3 Japanese Grand Prix 2017: Raikkonen crashes at Degner
Tour 8, Baku city tour
I admit there may be a recency bias in my choice, but nothing beats the cramped and blind nature of Turn 8 in Baku, and the precision it requires. It’s fairly new to F1 fans and drivers, so to call it iconic is a little premature, but for a corner that allows no overtaking, could that be any more fun? It demands perfect commitment, but it is ruthless and punishes those who go a little too far or go no further. Ask Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez or our very own Jolyon Palmer.
Nadim Bart-Williams, junior writer
Charles Leclerc’s “stupid” qualifying for the 2019 Azerbaijan GP
Tower 8, Istanbul Park
Take a deep breath, squeeze the throttle amid the crosswinds, and prepare to enter Istanbul Turn 8, a triple-peak left-hander that spans approximately 640 meters. Entering at around 260kph, hopefully exiting at around 280kph – the challenge being to keep the steering wheel at a consistent angle throughout and ignore camber changes just waiting to swerve you of your trajectory. It’s a physical challenge as well as a mental one – riders must maintain 4.5G throughout the turn – and then once you exit, the crosswinds hit you again, threatening to undo eight seconds of hard work.
Samarth Kanal, editor
Turkish Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel’s 2011 pole lap