Which type of F1 circuit offers the best experience for fans?

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Formula 1’s new owners have said they would like to increase the number of city center street circuits, which account for just 20% of races on the current F1 calendar. Maybe they should be targeting more races at another type of circuit instead?

When thinking about the F1 fan experience, we’ve considered aspects such as ease of getting to the circuit, vantage points and trackside facilities, weekend cost, and general trackside atmosphere. We’ve also given preference to circuits that offer proper General Admission viewing, and don’t restrict fans to particular zones around the circuit.

The four types of Formula 1 circuit

To answer the main question, we first have to classify the different types of F1 circuits. We’ve settled on four:

  • City park circuits
  • City center street circuits
  • Purpose-built circuits near large cities
  • Purpose-built or road circuits in rural locations.

The overall winner is… city park circuits!

There are only four city park circuits on the current F1 calendar, but they are among the most popular with fans and also attract some of the highest attendances. Watching an F1 race in a public park is a pleasant experience! You are more likely to be using (at least some) permanent facilities, there is shade from the sun and established walkways. All of the city park circuits are also easily accessible from the city center of desirable global cities by public transport (Monza is a little harder to reach than the others, admittedly). Interesting fact; three of the city park circuits are in cities that have hosted the Summer Olympics; the circuits in Canada and Mexico are actually built in parks that hosted Olympic sports.

  1. Monza (Milan, Italy)

  2. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Montreal, Canada)

  3. Albert Park (Melbourne, Australia)

  4. Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez (Mexico City)

The best of the rest…

We haven’t ranked the three other types of F1 circuits against each other. There are too many variables and opinions; everyone has their own preferences in choosing one destination over another. But we have ranked the circuits within each category based on our guides and personal experience; feel free to leave a comment if you disagree!

City center street circuits

Unlike Formula E, where all races are held on street circuits, less than 20% of the current F1 calendar takes place on traditional street circuits (we have included the Sochi Autodrom, where only 30% of the lap is on public roads). Street circuits are characterized by limited viewing opportunities. You won’t see any more than 1-2 corners from wherever you are, and your limited views can be further interrupted by walls and catch fencing. On the positive side, the atmosphere in the center of the city can be electrifying! Formula E could be onto something.

  1. Marina Bay Street Circuit (Singapore)

  2. Monte Carlo (Monaco)

  3. Baku City Circuit (Azerbaijan)

  4. Sochi Autodrom (Russia)

Purpose-built circuits near large cities

The biggest category has some of the best circuits for viewing on the current calendar, including Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and the Hungaroring, which both benefit from a ‘natural amphitheater’ location that lends itself to viewing large parts of the circuit from most spectator areas, even General Admission. Most of these circuits also have decent transport links from the city center (apart from COTA and Yas Marina).

  1. Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain)

  2. Hungaroring (Budapest, Hungary)

  3. Sepang (Kuala Lumpur) Malaysia)

  4. Circuit of the Americas (Austin, USA)

  5. Interlagos (Sao Paolo, Brazil)

  6. Shanghai International Circuit (China)

  7. Bahrain International Circuit (Sakhir, Bahrain)

  8. Yas Marina Circuit (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Purpose-built/road circuits in rural locations

Some of F1’s most historic – and atmospheric – circuits fall into this category. Unless you like camping, finding reasonably priced accommodation nearby can add considerably to your weekend budget. The trackside experience more than makes up for the higher cost, however. Rural circuits give F1 its unique character and Liberty Media should be looking to retain these circuits, especially in Europe, as much as possible.

  1. Spa Francorchamps (Belgium)

  2. Suzuka (near Nagoya, Japan)

  3. Silverstone (Great Britain)

  4. Red Bull Ring (Spielberg, Austria)

  5. Hockenheim (Germany) *guide coming in 2018

Click on the destinations above to read our 8-part travel guides! What’s your favorite kind of Formula 1 circuit and why? Leave a comment below.

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About the Author ()

Andrew Balfour is the Founder and Editor of F1Destinations.com. He originally hails from Adelaide, where he went to his first F1 race way back in 1987. He's been resident in Europe for almost 15 years and travels regularly to F1 races around the world.

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