130R, Blanchimont and the Wall of Champions: our writers on the most difficult corners in the history of Formula 1


With Azerbaijan and Canada back to back once again, both circuits featuring two of the most challenging corners ever tackled in an F1 car, we asked our contributors for the most difficult corners in Formula 1 history…

130R, Suzuki

Suzuka’s 130R, named for its metric radius, is a left-hander that follows a long drag from the Spoon Curve and zooms in at close to 200 mph in eighth gear. In its heyday in the ’80s and ’90s, it was a very fast and bumpy test of a driver’s mettle, the scene of some very committed and dramatic overtaking, and regularly bit the unwary. Following Allan McNish’s heavy crash in 2002, it was modified with a tarmac runway and, like Eau Rouge, is now generally carried flat in today’s high-downforce F1 cars, although sheer precision remains. being as essential as a heavy right foot.

David Tremayne, F1 Hall of Fame Journalist


Japan 1995 – 130R – Alesi passes Herbert

Wall of Champions, Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve

There are so many incredible, iconic corners on the F1 calendar, but what I love about Turns 13 and 14, the final chicane, in Montreal is its simplicity. A long straight into a big braking zone, hard curbs and a wall waiting to punish any mistakes.

It may not sound exciting on paper, but when it has taken on Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve in the same race weekend, it is clearly a challenge.

That weekend in 1999 left me feeling like any driver could go wrong at any time, with the lingering temptation to try to get a little more speed down the pit straight to finish a lap.

Chris Medland, Special Contributor

Canada’s Wall of Champions: who will be the next victim?

Alboreto curve, Monza

The fast and famous final corner at Monza, formerly known as Parabolica; one that requires total commitment and skill to finish a lap of the final low-downforce circuit, where the cars are notoriously skittish. In the past it used to be lined with gravel and to get the lap time you had to run around the outside as you picked up speed, just millimeters from the gravel and then the walls beyond, squeezing the power out as soon as possible. possible for long drag. to the line

Slightly sedated now by tarmac runoff, and renamed Curva Alboreto last year, it’s still a challenge, but the sheer danger of the corner has perhaps been reduced since 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 to me Brands Hatch’s Hill Bend Paddock remains one of the most magical and unique corners of F1 and motorsport. The joy of track days means I’ve 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 car with qualifying tires and full boost is beyond me.

Greg Stuart, Senior Editor

Nelson Piquet drives Ayrton Senna through Paddock Hill Bend at the 1986 British Grand Prix

Blanchimont, Spa Francorchamps

Spa-Francorchamps is home to a plethora of extraordinary corners, but one of the most daunting is Blanchimont. It’s a vicious double left turn, taken at very high speed (possibly full throttle depending on the quality of your car) and there is very little escape. It requires courage and total commitment. It is an absolute beast. Max Verstappen tamed it beautifully in his rookie year in 2015, dangling his Toro Rosso around the outside of Felipe Nasr’s Sauber to complete one of the greatest overtakes of all time. Surprisingly, he revealed after the race that he had successfully practiced and accomplished that exact move in a simulation race the week before.

Lawrence Barretto, F1 correspondent and presenter

Verstappen passes Nasr at Blanchimont at the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix

Degner 1 and 2, Suzuka

The toughest corners are hard to separate from the ones we consider the best or the most iconic. For me they have to represent the biggest challenge. The turnaround at Maggots and Becketts deserves a note here, as does the downhill turnaround at 11 in Bahrain. The Singapore sling always surprised people in the early days and Turn 14 could be very difficult at Sepang. I could write an entire article on the Nordschleife, but the particularly challenging turns were Schwedenkreuz, Bergwerk, Aremberg, and Pflanzgarten II.

Yet rarely have I been more impressed 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 between too hot for either and that’s it. Key to a great lap, undoing legends, a magnificent challenge on a magnificent track.

Will Buxton, F1 Digital Presenter

Japanese Grand Prix 2017 FP3: Raikkonen crashes at Degner

Turn 8, Baku City Circuit

I admit there may be a fair amount of recency bias in my choice, but nothing beats the narrow and blind nature of Turn 8 at Baku, and the precision it requires. It’s fairly new in the eyes of F1 fans and drivers, so calling it iconic is a bit premature, but for a corner that allows zero overtaking, could it be more entertaining? He demands a perfect compromise, but he is relentless and punishes those who take him an inch further or don’t take an extra inch. Just ask Charles Leclerc, Sergio Pérez or our very own Jolyon Palmer.

Nadim Bart-Williams, Junior Writer

Charles Leclerc’s ‘stupid’ 2019 Azerbaijan GP qualifying

Turn 8, Istanbul Park

Take a deep breath, hit the throttle amid crosswinds and get ready to enter Istanbul Turn 8, a triple apex left-hander stretching some 640 metres. Entering at around 260 km/h, one would expect to exit at around 280 km/h; the challenge is keeping the steering wheel at a constant angle at all times and ignoring changes in camber that only ask to throw you off course. It’s both physically and mentally challenging: drivers have to maintain 4.5G throughout the turn, and then once you’re out, crosswinds hit you again, threatening to undo eight seconds of hard work.

Samarth Kanal, Staff Writer

Turkish Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel’s pole lap in 2011