Jenson Button, McLaren, Melbourne, 2013

New tracks don’t have challenge of Spa – Button

2013 Belgian Grand Prix

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Jenson Button, McLaren, Melbourne, 2013Jenson Button is relishing the challenge of Spa which he says makes a welcome change from newer circuits on the calendar.

“The circuit is a bit unforgiving, but in a way I don?t mind that,” said Button, who won last year’s Belgian Grand Prix.

“I think we?ve lost a bit of that element with some of the newer circuits we?ve seen arrive on the calendar over the past few years.”

“The old classics are the ones that really remind me why I love this sport so much: here, Monza, Suzuka etc.”

“The circuit is simply stunning,” he added. “It?s one of the best circuits for a driver, so fast and flowing. You have true racing fans here too, which is fantastic to see.”

Button said his car felt better in the damp morning practice session than it did in the afternoon: “FP1 was very good, and I was very happy with the car. The balance was good and I think our pace was good, too. I didn?t push very hard in the wet sectors, but in the dry as I say it felt very good.”

“This afternoon, however, it felt different. It?s obviously a result of the warmer temperatures, and perhaps the wind also, so we?ve got a lot of work to do to understand why that is.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “New tracks don’t have challenge of Spa – Button”

  1. I agree with him – new tracks are rubbish. And don’t tell me about safety reasons. If such unforgiving track as Spa is on calendar, then new tracks can also be unforgiving and exciting.

  2. New tracks don’t have challenge of Spa – Button

    The headline says it all. My biggest disappointment in Formula 1 over the last 10 years was when Spa was left off the race calendar in 2003. Thought I was going to cry. Spa is F1. Spa is the highlight of the year for fans and drivers alike. Long live Spa!

    1. +1 They only have a contract until 2015, hope they will get a new one.

    2. I agree – Spa is, for me, the highlight of the season.

    3. With Spa in 2003, Kimi would have been champion.

  3. Michael Brown (@)
    23rd August 2013, 18:13

    Singapore. All I have to say.

  4. Formula 1 is as much about the tracks as the cars. The circuits of Spa, Monza, Monaco, Silverstone, Montreal, and Suzuka are timeless and amazing. History lives at places like these. But I think that Shanghai and Austin are worthy additions to the F1 cannon, and that they will be around for decades to come. Future classics all. I wonder how many of the current drivers wish that they could take on places like Brands Hatch, Imola, or even Rouen? We are lucky to have as many good tracks as we do on the calender.

    1. Wahhhh, Rouen.
      I drove the old circuit a month ago (it’s back to a normal road now, so you can go around the best part of the layout…), and it’s hard to believe that it was used as a F1 track. So brutally dangerous…

      1. Fantastic track, too bad they took down the old pit building though…

    2. Imola would be awesome. True test of driver skill. Would be a great way to separate the real drivers from the “Chiltons” of modern F1.

  5. I think it depends what sort of challenge you mean.

    Yes newer circuits have more run-off, But several newer circuits are also a real challenge to drive because of the layout.
    Istanbul for example was well liked by drivers because it was challenging to drive, Singapore is a challenge because its very physically demanding, I’ve heard drivers call India/Korea challenging circuits to drive & I know a lot of drivers like Bahrain & Shanghai for the same reason.

    I’d also point out that when it comes to the run-off, It was the GPDA (The drivers) of 10-15yrs ago that were pushing for more run-off & for tarmac to be used more frequently.
    The FIA were heading in the direction of tarmac run-off & bigger run-off areas anyway, But the drivers were also pushing them there faster than they would have gone on there own.

    Were a couple big accidents in the 99-02 period which drivers felt would have been less severe had there been tarmac run-off instead of gravel & that feedback was passed to the FIA who investigated, Agreed & acted accordingly.

    I’ll cite 2 example’s from Spa since thats where were racing this weekend.
    Zonta’s crash at Eau Rouge in 1999 & Burti’s in 2001. Zonta would not have flipped had the Eau Rouge run-off been tarmac & Burti’s accident at Blanchimont would have been less severe than it was had there been no gravel trap to damage the front suspension which took out his steering & more importantly his brakes.

    1. The problem I have with tarmac run-off is that it gives drivers the opportunity to cross the lines with all four wheels: for instance the exit of the first part of Stavelot, I noticed that literally 0 drivers stayed within track limits going through there. And because the FIA isn’t taking a clear stand on it (for instance, here’s a screen shot from Vettel’s pole lap in India last year), drivers are in the dark over what they can and can’t do: there is no physical boundary.

      I’ve floated this idea before on the forum: you have a tarmac run-off area like on most modern circuits, but the first metre alongside the track is grass. This way, drivers have an aiming point, a physical boundary that they can recognize easily. So it still is safe, but it prevents unclear situations like Grosjean’s pass on Massa at Hungary last month and Vettel’s pole lap at India last year.

      But back to the real discussion: why are modern circuits not working? I think it has to do with the entire concept behind the new circuits. They are build to host a GP once per year, so they build a monumental track and hope that somehow this will create enthusiasm for motorsport. In my opinion, passion for motor racing should grow slowly, so first build a track with lots of hills to provide cheap seats to watch the races. Then offer track days so that everyone with a car can enjoy racing himself. If the people get enthusiastic, then great, keep expanding. If it doesn’t work, then drop the entire thing and keep the smaller scaled racing project alive for the few fans left. Sounds like a plan, right?

      1. (for instance, here’s a screen shot from Vettel’s pole lap in India last year)

        The FIA usually class the kurb as part of the circuit so drivers are allowed to have 2 wheels beyond the kurb & 2 on the kurb. Its when they put all 4 wheels beyond the kurb (As Grosjean did when he passed Massa in Hungary) that the FIA look into it.

        Drivers are usually told what is/isn’t going to be considered acceptable by Charlie before the weekend so drivers usually know what lines can/can’t be crossed.

        Regarding a strip of grass on the back of the kurb, Would indeed be a good solution to prevent drivers taking liberties, Was actually what initially happened when gravel was replaced by tarmac but they then moved to those carpets of astro-turf we see been ripped up all too often.
        Been fair to the FIA on this, I think the astro-turf (And that grasscrete stuff we used to have at Monza/Imola) was something circuit owners began implementing on there own & was then something the FIA adopted to have a consistent thing at all circuits.

        I always felt the biggest issue was that the law wasn’t laid down straght away & they allowed the boundaries to get pushed for so long that its hard to then stop drivers taking whats become the racing line (In all categories) at many circuits.
        If your allowed to cut onto the run-off in Formula ford, F3 etc… then you will do it all the way upto the top categories.

      2. The things is I don’t think that most of the governments that back these monumental tracks are interested in fostering motorsport in their countries. I think they see these circuits just as an easy means to gain international notoriety; and those governments are desperate enough to gain that (sporting) recognition that they’re willing to accept any cost and underwrite that one F1 Grand Prix per year, no matter how outrageous it is and how financially ill-conceived it is.

        Formula 1 just takes advantage of the situation and uses these new GPs as cash cows, to the detriment of established circuits from countries where economic considerations and the financial health of local motorsport are much more important than the national “ego-boost” that an F1 GP brings.

  6. New circuits not only are booring, they are very very ugly with those crap run-offs with paintings in them… I like oldschool track with grass or gravel…

    1. Why?

      I race bikes and it’s reassuring knowing that when I miss my braking point I am not beaching the bike, but instead I can rejoin the track safely and brake earlier next time. Nothing wrong with the tracks… It’s the FIA that needs to put its foot down on those overtakes off-track.

  7. This year we were lucky, with only 7 Tilkedromes in the calender. Next year is going to be far worse: 11 full blown Tilkedromes, plus the Tilke butchered Hockenheimring.

    1. Isn’t the “red bull ring” (hate that name) on the calendar next year? So that’s another iconic circuit that was destroyed by tilke to join hockenheim on the calendar. Serious makes me almost shed a tear every time I see either of those circuits. In their own right, they aren’t bad tracks, especially the a1 ring, they are both fun to drive, but the amazing circuits they replaced, should have never been desecrated in that way. Hockenheim could have simply had the barriers through the forest section moved back a bit, and good run off areas put in place, and safety wouldn’t be an issue. They also could have easily upgraded stands around the forest section, without spoiling the charm of the thick forest. Instead they destroyed it :(. Osterreichring only needed better run off areas to improve safety at the fastest corners, and a widening of the main straight, as alain prost said, and it would’ve been fine. Instead they butchered pieces out of it everywhere and despite the a1 ring being a decent track, it isn’t half as good as osterreichring. I don’t mind new tracks being built, but I hate it when they ruin some of the best tracks in the world to do it! Other notable examples of classic circuits ruined by over modernization include silverstone and the nurburgring sudschleife. Imagine modern f1 cars racing on the old combined nurburgring!

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