What are F1's fastest circuits?

F1

The Formula 1 world championship has 23 of the fastest races on earth – but which tracks are the fastest?

Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc battle on track in F1 at Monza

Norris and Leclerc do battle at Monza

DPPI

Formula 1 is motor sport’s fastest form of racing, and its quickest circuits provide a test of human athletic ability and driving skill like no other. Drivers need to have cat-like reactions of the highest order, mentally process split-second decisions continually and be comfortable in a 220mph-working office.

Circuits like Monza, Spa-Francorchamps and Silverstone are usually conjured when speaking of F1’s highest speeds, but are any other circuits faster? And which other modern tracks sit comfortably with these grand prix roller coaster rides?

Read our rundown of F1’s eight fastest tracks below.

 

Monza

Average speed 164mph (264km/h)
Top speed 225mph (362km/h)
John Surtees beats Jack Brabham to the finish line in the 1967 Italian Grand Prix

John Surtees pipping Jack Brabham to the line at Monza, 1967

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Lap record: Lewis Hamilton (2020): 1min 18.887sec

Think of F1 flat-out and most likely it will be Monza that springs to mind – it isn’t called the Temple of Speed for nothing.

An iconic 220mph+ start/finish straight, the thrilling Curva Grande, the tricky two Lesmos and the Parabolica which slingshots cars back into doing it all again makes for the fastest lap in F1, with an average lap of 164mph.

Some of F1’s greatest duels have occurred in the leafy Italian parkland: Peter Gethin winning a five-car scrap by 0.01sec, Jack Brabham taking a 0.02sec victory over John Surtees, Sebastian Vettel’s masterful first win in the wet and Charles Leclerc bringing Scuderia glory back for the Tifosi in 2019.

First constructed in 1922, the track has evolved through several layouts, including the now-unused banking section, but still remains the fastest circuit on the F1 calendar.

By 1928 its reputation as a track not to be take lightly was already confirmed, after an accident which killed competitor Emilio Materassi and 27 spectators shook the motor sport world. Five years later came the ‘Black Day of Monza’ which saw three drivers killed in one race: Giuseppe Campari, Baconin Borzacchini and Stanislaw Czaykowski.

Later tragedies including Wolfgang von Trips’ fatal crash into spectators in 1961 and Jochen Rindt’s deadly accident just a few metres further down the road at  the Parabolica.

However, despite the all the obvious dangers, Monza remains a cherished fixture on the calendar. If you want to go fast, there’s no place better.

 

Jeddah Corniche

Average speed 157mph (252km/h)
Top speed 202mph (325km/h)
sagp22

Jeddah provides the second-fastest lap on the calendar

Grand Prix Photo

Lap record: Lewis Hamilton (2020): 1min 27.511sec

The Saudi Arabian GP event has been a divisive event to say the least in its short history, and the circuit itself has come in for some criticism too.

A 157mph average lap means Jeddah is F1’s fastest street circuit, with 27 turns – many flat out – making for a fearsome challenge.

The track is essentially a high-speed chase up and down the Corniche waterfront, an opening chicane leading to 11 fast winding corners.

A hairpin then heads to 13 more twisting turns, with one more almost 180-degree corner to finish it off.

Sergio Perez called the circuit “the most dangerous place on the calendar”, but other drivers praised it, with Carlos Sainz saying in 2021, “The intensity that this track gives you and the thrill and the adrenaline is something that I haven’t lived a bit since my Macau days.”

The circuit has claimed some high-speed victims, with Mick Schumacher crashing in the ’21 race and then even more heavily in qualifying this year, but he was thankfully unscathed.

Some corners were widened slightly for 2022 in a bid to improve visibility, but Jeddah still remains one of F1’s greatest challenges.

 

Silverstone

Average speed 156mph (250km/h)
Top speed 225mph (362km/h)
2021 British GP restart

Silverstone is still one of F1’s fastest laps

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Lap record: Lewis Hamilton (2020): 1min 24.303sec

Silverstone might not quite be the airfield blast it once was, but it still remains a rapid race on the F1 calendar.

A technical section now begins the lap, before drivers first get to put their foot down on the Wellington Straight.

The excitement gradually builds as drivers slink through Brooklands, Luffield and Woodcote until hitting F1-warp speed in the form of Copse. One of F1’s fastest corners, it has been witness to masterful overtakes through the years and was the scene last season of the dramatic coming-together of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

Copse, linked up with the Beckett’s complex, the Hangar straight and Stowe, forms one of the sports most revered corner combinations.

As mentioned above, things might have changed a bit since Keke Rosberg stubbed out his cigarette and decided this was the lap, but Silverstone is still one of F1’s fastest and thrilling tracks.

 

 

Spa-Francorchamps

Average speed: 154mph (247km/h)
Top speed: 200mph (323km/h)
Lewis Hamilton leads through Eau Rouge at Spa Francorchamps on the first lap of the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix

Cars sweep through Eau Rouge

Lars Baron/Getty Images

Lap record: Lewis Hamilton (2020): 1min 41.252sec

The fact that the much-toned down Spa-Francorchamps is still seen as a huge challenge illustrates the degree of terror the original lap instilled.

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Its modern form is still not to be underestimated: once the low-speed La Source hairpin is out the way, drivers have to contend with perhaps F1’s greatest corner combination, Eau Rouge and Raidillon. Despite naysayers proclaiming the terrifying kink is not what it was after safety modifications, recent crashes by Jack Aitken and Lando Norris demonstrates it’s still a curve to be reckoned with.

From there it’s foot-to-the-floor down the Kemmel Straight into Les Combes. Pouhon, Stavelot and Blanchimont only add to the classic ensemble of corners.

Spa, naturally, has provided many a thriller through the years: Damon Hill taking Jordan’s first win; Lewis Hamilton ‘winning’ at the death in 2008, and Jim Clark’s four consecutive virtuoso wins from ’62 to ’65.

The racing topography gives Spa its beauty, but the sheer speed is equally important in forming this legendary track’s character.

 

Red Bull Ring

Average speed 153mph (246km/h)
Top speed 200mph (325km/h)
John Watson, James Hunt, Penske PC4, McLaren-Ford M23, Grand Prix of Austria, Zeltweg, 15 August 1976. (Photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images)

Watson and Hunt engage in drag race off the start of Austria ’76

Bernard Cahier/Getty Images

Lap record: Valtteri Bottas (2020): 1min 02.293sec

Many pine for the old longer and even faster Österreichring, but its new incarnation is still a high-speed high jink through the Styrian mountains – and has produced some great races for it too.

Max Verstappen barged Charles Leclerc out the way as the 2019 edition came to its climax, and we saw Lando Norris claim a thrilling last lap podium the year after, but the old iteration was partial to a thriller also.

John Watson out-slipstreamed Ronnie Peterson, Jody Scheckter and James Hunt to take Penske’s first win in 1976, whilst in 1982 Elio de Angelis just pipped Keke Rosberg to the win in F1’s fourth-closest finish – 0.05sec.

The start – finish straight is relatively unusual (as is COTA) in that it immediately climbs uphill, as drivers ascend into the Styrian mountains.

The first half of the circuit is essentially a collection of long straights connected by slow-to-medium speed corners, with a winding section leading to finish what is F1’s shortest lap – a thrill-a-minute go-kart track of mountainous proportions.

 

Suzuka 

Average speed 153mph (240km/h)
Top speed 200mph (328km/h)
McNish crash Japanese GP 2002

McNish is led away after his harrowing shunt in ’02

Grand Prix Photo

Lap record: Sebastian Vettel (2019): 1min 27.046sec

As modern F1 challenges go, there are few which stimulate the senses quite like Suzuka. The sheer speed and demand of its twists and turns, combined with a charismatic setting and fervent crowd make it a circuit cherished by drivers and fans alike – that’s not to mention feared and respected too.

A looping first corner leads into the slalom ‘S’ Curves, before the tricky Degner turns – ones which come up so fast they have often caught out drivers who find themselves suddenly in the gravel or barriers.

The Hairpin and then Spoon corners then launch drivers into one of F1’s biggest challenges, the 130R. Taken at over 300km/h, the sweeping left-hander has been reprofiled to make it safer, but still remains one of the most formidable in grand prix racing.

Ayrton Senna famously took out Alain Prost at the ’90 race to secure his second title, the track unfortunately claiming other victims too: Nigel Mansell crashed spectacularly at the S Curves to end his ’87 title hopes, Allan McNish had a horrifying shunt through the barriers at 130R in 2002 and Jules Bianchi tragically died from his injuries less than a year after his crash into a recovery vehicle at the 2014 race.

However, after a three-year absence due to Covid, F1 returns this year – and drivers apparently can’t wait. Suzuka still remains one of the fastest thrill-rides in the championship.

 

Albert Park 

Average speed 153mph (244km/h)
Top speed 200mph (322km/h)
Sparks fly from Red Bull of Max Verstappen at the 2022 Australian Grand Prix

Sparks flying once more at Albert Park

Dan Istitene/F1 via Getty Images

Lap record: Charles Leclerc (2022): 1min 27.046sec

After the opening Middle Eastern exchanges of the 2022 F1 season, the championship returned to a carnival atmosphere on the streets of Albert Park for the first time since 2019.

Though it might not spring to mind as one of the more rapid laps in F1, Albert Park does in fact have one of the fastest average speeds, as cars swoop round the lake at the centre of parkland in downtown Melbourne.

In a bid to encourage more overtaking, the track was modified for this year, making it faster than ever: Turn 6 was widened to make it more of a fast sweep rather than a right-hander to be respected, and the removal of the 9-10 chicane combination has now created a rat run into the hugely-fast ‘new’ 9 – 10 chicane (formerly 11 – 12).

Cars hit 322kp/h cars then race down to Turn 9, with another high speed chase into 11 before a technical section rounds-off the lap.

The circuit has had memorable races such as Jenson Button’s thrilling 2010 win and David Coulthard’s victory through a war of attrition in 2003, as well as some huge high-speed crashes – think Ralf Schumacher 2002 or Martin Brundle’s 1996 smash at the track’s debut.

 

Paul Ricard

Average speed 148mph (238km/h)
Top speed 207mph (333km/h)
Max Verstappen passes Lewis Hamilton in the 2021 French Grand Prix

Verstappen the lead on the Mistral

Florent Gooden / DPPI

Lap record: Lewis Hamilton (2019): 1min 28.319sec

Though now neutered some what by the chicane which splits it these days, Paul Ricard’s Mistral Straight still sees cars hit over 200mph (330km/h).

More of a technical challenge than a hair-raising romp, the general high speed of the French circuit’s corners still make it one of the faster tours on the F1 calendar.

Though not known to produce many classic races, Max Verstappen ripped up the form book last year by using an alternative tyre strategy to scythe his way back through the field.

After clinging on for dear life to take Valtteri Bottas up the inside of Signes, he then hunted down Lewis Hamilton on the Mistral to take the lead with one lap to go.

With overtaking now improved by the new generation of cars, 2022 could be set to be another entertaining race too.