RANKING: Which type of F1 circuit offers the best fan experience?

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Liberty are keen to take F1 to new city center street circuits. Hanoi joins the calendar next year and Miami could be agreed for 2021. But we argue that City Park Circuits offer the better fan experience.

This post was originally published in August 2017. It was fully updated in October 2019.

To arrive at the best possible F1 fan experience, we’ve considered aspects such as ease of getting to the circuit, vantage points and trackside facilities, overall 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 inside 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 categories:

  • City Park Circuits
  • City Street Circuits
  • Purpose Built Circuits (near large cities)
  • Purpose-Built/ 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 events.

  1. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Montreal, Canada)

  2. Monza (Milan, Italy)

  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 Street Circuits

Unlike Formula E, where all races are held on street circuits, only 22% (5 races out of 22) on the proposed 2020 F1 calendar take place on traditional street circuits (we have included the Sochi Autodrom, where only 30% of the lap is on public roads). It’s just been announced that F1 has signed a preliminary deal with the Hard Rock Stadium to stage the 2021 Miami Grand Prix on a new layout around the home of the Miami Dolphins football team, taking the number of street races on the calendar to six.

Street circuits are characterized by limited viewing opportunities. You won’t see any more than 1-2 corners from wherever you are watching. 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 here.

  1. Marina Bay Street Circuit (Singapore)

  2. Monte Carlo (Monaco)

  3. Baku City Circuit (Azerbaijan)

  4. Sochi Autodrom (Russia)

  5. Hanoi Street Circuit (Vietnam)*

*New circuit for 2020.

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. Circuit of The Americas (Austin, USA)

  4. Yas Marina Circuit (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

  5. Interlagos (Sao Paolo, Brazil)

  6. Bahrain International Circuit (Sakhir, Bahrain)

  7. Shanghai International Circuit (China)

Purpose-Built/Road Circuits (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 considerable cost to your weekend budget. Luckily, the trackside experience more than makes up for the higher cost. Rural circuits give F1 its unique character and deserve their place on the current F1 calendar.

  1. Circuit de Spa Francorchamps (Belgium)

  2. Silverstone (Great Britain)

  3. Suzuka (Japan)

  4. Red Bull Ring (Spielberg, Austria)

  5. Circuit Paul Ricard (Le Castellet, France)

  6. Circuit Zandvoort (Netherlands)*

*The Dutch Grand Prix returns to the calendar in 2020 after a 35-year absence.

Click on the 22 destinations above to read our detailed travel guides to every race on the 2020 Formula 1 calendar! 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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