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Top seven most dangerous Formula 1 tracks in history

Published at :March 27, 2023 at 9:37 PM
Modified at :April 5, 2023 at 11:06 PM
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Kushal Golwelkar

These are also one of the most famous circuits in F1.

Formula 1 racing is known for its high-speed and high-risk nature, with drivers pushing themselves and their cars to the limit on some of the most challenging circuits in the world. Twenty of the best drivers in the world compete against one another in some of the fastest cars on earth. Drivers go wheel-to-wheel at over 300 kilometers an hour, inches from disaster. While every track poses its own unique set of risks and challenges, there are some circuits that stand out as particularly dangerous. Here are the top 7 most dangerous circuits in F1 history:

7. Imola Circuit, Italy

The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola always remains a reminder of the dangers of Formula 1. The circuit, named after Enzo Ferrari, the man behind the Scuderia Ferrari team, has claimed the lives of several F1 drivers. This included the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix when Ayrton Senna and Ronald Ratzenberger died. The track has changed a little since the disaster but remains difficult for the drivers. The track has a grand prix layout of 4.9 kilometers or 3.05 miles long.

Imola is beloved by the drivers participating and fans alike for its old-school quality. As the track is still fast, the demands on the drivers are still very high. It returned to the Formula 1 calendar in 2020 as the Emilia-Romagna GP and is part of the 2023 calendar. Despite extensive modifications to meet safety requirements, drivers are well aware of the danger it still poses.

6. Baku Street Circuit, Azerbaijan

The 6 km or 3.730 miles is notorious for its lack of run-off areas. The long straight on the Baku street circuit is among the fastest and most feared sections of all season, drivers reach upto 333 kph. While these high speeds alone are very risky for the drivers, what makes this section worse is that it also has an entrance to the pit lane. Max Verstappen was leading the Baku circuit in 2021 with 5 laps remaining when his left rear tire gave up without any warning. Losing control of his car, he slammed right into the wall on the right side of the track. Considering where he was on the circuit, if it had been the right rear tire, there is a good chance Verstappen would have driven straight into the wall at the start of the entrance to the pit lane and things could have ended much worse.

5. Suzuka Circuit, Japan

The Suzuka Circuit is known for its high-speed corners and technical sections, which require precision and skill from the drivers. The track has also been the site of several serious accidents over the years, including the crash of Jules Bianchi in 2014, who crashed into a recovery vehicle and passed away a few months later because of his injuries. The track is 5.8km or 3.6 miles long. Erratic blind corners, limited run-off areas, speeds upwards of 300 kmph. These are just a few of the features that make Japan's legendary Suzuka Circuit the country's most dangerous race track.

4. Monaco Grand Prix Circuit, Monaco

While the Monaco circuit is one of the most iconic and prestigious in the world, it is also one of the most dangerous. The crown jewel of motorsport is a host to narrow streets and tight corners and leaves very little room for mistakes, and an error can easily lead to a crash or collision with a wall. The circuit has also been known to have some of the highest speeds in F1, with cars reaching up to 280 km/h on the straightaways. The 3.33km or 2 mile-long track is one of the shortest in Formula 1. Yet, drivers are tasked with maintaining a clean race in narrow streets even during rain. Subsequently, the safety car is almost guaranteed in Monaco with virtually no chance of on-track overtaking for drivers.

Qualifying  is often regarded as the most exciting part of the weekend, The circuit is rewarding for the drivers who show true courage and driving skills. Max Verstappen suffered a very heavy crash in his Torro Rosso going into the first turn in the 2015 season.

3. Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

Eau Rouge and Radillion are the most dreaded corners of F1. This track is known for its high-speed corners and unpredictable weather, making it a challenging circuit for even the most experienced drivers. The track is also notorious for its lack of run-off areas, which can make accidents even more dangerous. Anthoine Hubert, an F2 driver lost his life in 2019 after a dangerous crash in Eau Rouge. Lando Norris of McLaren also had a catastrophic crash in 2021 as the British driver failed to deal with the wet track conditions under heavy rain. The 7km or 4.35 miles long track is the longest of the F1 season. Changes have been made to the track regarding safety issues and this will make the track safer and prevent lethal incidents in the future.

2. Jeddah Circuit, Saudi Arabia

Jeddah is a street circuit and has been added recently to the F1 calendar. Jeddah has been known as a dangerous street track for drivers as it is one of the fastest circuits of the F1 season and it’s lacks of safety. It is the second-longest circuit of the season which is 6.175 kms 3.83 miles long. The 2022 season saw Mick Schumacher’s crash at this circuit which is still the most notable crash on that circuit till date. Several drivers have commented about the track's suitability to host F1 races, particularly after Mick Schumacher’s crash. Even though changes were made for the coming edition, it has still drawn very strong criticism from drivers due to the killer kerbs and sweeping corners with close barriers.

1. Nurburgring Nordschleife, Germany

This circuit is often referred to as the "Green Hell" due to its incredibly challenging layout and numerous blind corners. The circuit is over 20 kilometers long and has over 170 corners, making it one of the longest and most difficult tracks in the world. It was last used for F1 racing in 1976 where Niki Lauda suffered a life-changing crash during the race. The Austrian driver survived this calamity with severe burns on his body as he narrowly escaped death. The 7-minute long track contains some fast and twisty corners, with little space for a potential recovery or safety. It is of no surprise that this circuit is just not feasible for Formula 1 to race again. Although the track is still used by the automobile industry to test out vehicles.

The pinnacle of motorsport has raced on dozens of tracks in the past decades. It's worth noting that while these circuits are considered to be among the most dangerous in F1 history, all F1 tracks are designed with safety as the top priority. Safety measures such as run-off areas, barriers, and crash zones are constantly being updated and improved to minimize the risk of serious accidents and injuries during races.