How to design a successful street circuit
One of the usual complaints around street circuits is how difficult overtaking can be, something that is certainly true in Monaco. The long straights of the Baku track however solved this problem: any driver that could get close enough through the circuit’s ‘old’ section could then benefit from a significant slipstream down the long straight. The heavy braking zone for the 90-degree left-hander that follows has already created plenty of drama in the race’s short history, with the 2018 collision between then-Red Bull team-mates Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo standing out in particular.
The opportunity for overtaking combined with the classic challenge of a street circuit means the circuit is one where talent often stands out. It’s where Charles Leclerc produced one of his most impressive Formula 2 performances in 2017, coming close to winning both races, before his breakthrough F1 drive to sixth place for Sauber a year later. What odds on playing host to his first F1 victory for Ferrari this year?
Good morning Vietnam
The success of the Baku race, and the desire to bring F1 action to the people, means the championship has been on the lookout for more street races. The next new addition will be in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, in 2020.
The proposed circuit takes clear design cues from the Baku track, with a combination of long straights and a more twisting section. Like Baku, this will provide the teams’ engineers with something of a headache, with a need to balance downforce and grip through the corners with low drag and top speeds down the straights. Such compromises can again highlight driver skill, rewarding those who can better rely on mechanical grip from their tyres over grip from their car’s aerodynamics.
The Hanoi layout doesn’t only take inspiration from Baku however, with designers also looking to classic sections from other F1 venues. The first two corners replicate those at the Nurburgring, while Turns 12 to 15 are intended to replicate the famous uphill section from Sainte Devote to Massenet in Monaco. Then there’s the following sequence from Turns 16 to 19, a nod to Suzuka’s iconic Esses.
An intriguing extra feature is the pit-lane, which bypasses the tight last and first corners, reducing the relative time it takes to make a pit-stop and potentially opening up more strategic options.
Hanoi is all set up to provide more thrilling street fighting in a new global destination, inspired by the instant classic that is Baku.