You can't have exciting racing without a racing track that's hugely enjoyable and demanding. Luckily, there are plenty of them, but that's what makes them so hard to rank in our top ten list! What we wanted is to avoid the trap and rate them based on how famous they are. Also, it's not all about the track's shape, as those that have a few overtaking opportunities can't be close to the top. Additionally, we're including weather conditions into account, as unpredictability can really spice up the races. Finally, we're omitting oval tracks and old circuits that are demolished or no longer in use. So, let's go racing!
10. Brands Hatch Circuit
England has so many memorable race tracks, and Brands Hatch is often mentioned as one of the best. This one has two distinctive configurations, but we'll focus on the Grand Prix layout, which at 2.4 miles is twice as long as Indy Circuit. The most unique aspect of this circuit is the first turn in the race, Paddock Hill Bend, as it goes downhill. It's a fast corner where you can't play safe, as it's a great spot for overtaking.
Like is the case with many British racing circuits, this one is tight and relatively short, so getting ahead requires lots of patience and bravery. While Formula 1 left it in 1987, it's still heavily used, mostly for the local racing scene.
9. Sepang International Circuit
German engineer Hermann Tilke designed tons of modern Formula 1 racing tracks, but many of his creations proved pretty uninspiring. This is because they are usually short and don't offer many passing opportunities. However, Sepang International Circuit might be his best creation. This is a relatively new circuit as it's been open with the MotoGP race in 1999. We love this track because it's pretty long (almost 3,5 miles) and has the right combination of straights and various corners.
It's a highly technical circuit where the best drivers thrive, as mistakes are rather costly. It's also very wide, so there are plenty of opportunities for overtaking. Finally, we shouldn't forget the weather, since conditions can be rather extreme. It's perfectly possible for racers to experience both extreme heat and monsoons during the race weekend! Unfortunately, the Italian MotoGP racer Marco Simoncelli lost his life here in 2011, and Formula 1 racing was abandoned in 2017 because of low ticket sales.
8. Laguna Seca Raceway
Only a few racing tracks offer such distinctive challenges, such as The Corkscrew. This is a quite scary experience, as you go up the hill before encountering hard left and right corners. This means that you don't have much room for error, as late-breaking often leads to spinning and crashing. Still, no matter how good you are, you'll always feel that you could take on The Corkscrew a bit better than you did.
The rest of the track is also quite challenging, especially Corner 2 and Corner 11, which require careful positioning and hard braking. This is not the easiest track to make a pass, and the weather conditions are highly predictable. The warm Californian sun makes sure you feel the heat so that this two miles long track seems like it's much longer.
7. Imola Circuit
The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari is better known simply as Imola. Unfortunately, the first association about it are the tragedies that happened over a Formula 1 weekend in 1994. That year, both Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger died in separate incidents, with Rubens Barrichello suffering almost the same fate.
Fortunately, changes made tremendously increased safety, letting both fans and drivers enjoy racing. Still, Formula 1 left Imola in 2006 because of the bad pit stop shape and facilities before returning in 2020. Despite all the changes, Imola has always stayed tight and technical circuit where you have to work hard for overtaking. Built in 1953, this is an old-school course that's here to stay!
6. Circuit de Monaco
The only street circuit on our list also represents the toughest challenge for the drivers. The biggest reason for it is that barriers are so close to the track in Monaco that every error is costly. It doesn't help that corners are often very sharp, including Fairmont Hairpin, where the speed drops to 30 mph! In contrast, we have a fast corner in the tunnel, with the maximum speed going beyond 160 mph.
As you can expect, the track is very demanding on the car, with tires, engine, and gearbox all being tested to the limits. Plus, if you're unlucky that it rains, the result might be the most chaotic race in the history of Formula 1! The only reason why Circuit de Monaco isn't ranked higher is that overtaking is so hard! Qualifying is crucial here, as is the strategy, so gaining a position on the track is a heroic act.
5. Nurburging Nordschleife
At almost 13 miles long (or 15 if combined with modern GP circuit), Nurburgring Nordschleife is by far the longest track in our top 10. However, what makes it terrifying is that it has 170 corners, so it's tough to memorize. Despite this, Nordschleife was on Formula 1 calendar until 1976, when Nicki Lauda suffered a horrific crash.
Still, the track is regularly used for endurance competitions or testing, while you can also buy a ticket and drive a lap around it. To be good at Nordschleife like the Queen of the Nurburgring, you have to learn it, as it's pretty unforgiving. Since the track is tight, this also makes it difficult to pass. While you'll still see people ranking it as the greatest course in the world, we must disagree. However, if we're talking only about hot lapping, then yes, Nordschleife is the ultimate race track!
4. Autodromo Nazionale di Monza
At Monza, it's all about the speed! This is by far the fastest track in the history of Formula 1, with winner including Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, Mario Andretti or Alain Prost. This also means that racers face many high-speed corners with a long start-finish straight where the speed goes beyond 220 mph. High-powered cars have a clear advantage here, while downforce is minimal.
While it's not as technical as most of the other tracks we've listed, Monza is all about pure racing. You have tons of opportunities to improve your position, so the races are often exhilarating. Plus, as the engines are pushed to the limits, you can't ever be sure if they'll be able to get you through the end.
While making this list, it's easy to fall into the trap and feature some tracks based on their recognition. Of course, Silverstone is incredibly famous, but it's also an inspiring course. This is also one of the rare circuits that host pretty much every major international racing series, including Formula 1, MotoGP, World RallyCross, and even Indycar once.
While the track's configuration has changed numerous times to slow down the pace and provide better safety, Silverstone is still fast with plenty of overtaking opportunities. We also love that it has it all – high-speed straights and corners, as well as massive braking zones. Of course, unpredictable British weather also plays a huge role in spicing things up!
2. Suzuka International Race Circuit
Japan has some of the best race tracks in the world, but Suzuka has always been something special. Just by looking at it, you'll realize that it's quite unusual with its figure-eight layout, but that's only the beginning. The circuit is highly technical, especially turns 3-7, as a single mistake here is very costly. Of course, there's also a legendary Spoon curve where it's hard to stay on the ideal line and speed up to the fastest part of the track.
In Formula 1, Suzuka is usually one of the season's last races, so it often served as a championship decider. Unfortunately, this was also the place of the last tragic incident in Formula 1, as Jules Bianchi lost his life after a collision with a tractor in 2014. Despite this, Suzuka is branded as a safe circuit with the highest grade given by FIA.
There's something truly magical and atmospheric about Spa-Francorchamps! Even though the old version of it was twice as long as this modern incarnation, this is still an impressive 4.3 miles track. Set in the Ardennes forest, the layout incorporates large straights, high-speed curves, and highly technical parts. The famous Eau Rouge/Raidillon is an uphill sweeping corner that needs to be driven full speed as it's followed by a long straight.
Another huge factor here is the weather, bigger than anywhere else. This is because it's highly unpredictable, so you can experience both sun and the rain during a single race. What's even more challenging, you can experience both in the same lap! As the track is still quite long, it's not unusual for one part to be wet while others are completely dry. While you can be lucky and win on other tracks, you have to be good at Spa-Francorchamps!
While Spa-Francorchamps is our favorite race track ever, all top ten listed here are highly enjoyable, and you may even prefer any of them. We just wish that all of them continue to host the best racing series and bring us more excitement while constantly upgrading safety.
Have you ever been to a race track? Which one is your favorite? We would love to hear about your experiences!
Cover: Milan Czizmadia/Unsplash
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There's something magical about Monaco for me. I know that it's a very tight circuit where it's incredibly hard to overtake, yet it's also a massive challenge not to make a mistake.
October 28 at 07:39:48 AM