Editor's Blog
May 27, 2010

Familiarity breeds boredom

Posted on 27/05/2010

© Sutton Images

Hermann Tilke is not so much the designer favoured by F1 as being pretty much the only one ever considered when new circuits are conceived. The contract for almost every new track design in recent years has been awarded to Tilke’s firm. Now it appears he will be responsible for the planned new venue in Austin.

And yet while the authorities appear to believe there is no alternative, Tilke enjoys far less adulation from F1 fans. Little is guaranteed to provoke ESPNF1 readers into spluttering anger more than when his name is raised.

Tilke's trademark of circuit is a mixture of long straight and tight hairpins which are supposed to encourage overtaking. And yet even a cursory flick through the internet shows many believe his designs are doing just the opposite, in effect strangling the life out of F1.

It’s not just fans. In January Adrian Sutil said: “Abu Dhabi was one of the most perfect circuits I have driven on, and the most boring as well. It was just straight and really, really boring. Circuits are getting too safe and driving is not so nice anymore.”

Even if Tilke was universally popular it would still make sense to bring in other designers, if only to give some variety.

The danger at the moment is that Formula One circuits risk become identikits, only be distinguishable by the environment around them.


Posted by Roadkill on 27/05/2010

Agree with your comment, but another point would be: how come FOM - supposedly a bona fide commercial organisation - hasn't been criticised by ANYONE for its lack of fairness and transparency for commercial tenders? Surely that would inject competition and innovation as a result.

(I work in an industry completely outside of F1 and racing BTW, so no conflicts here :) )

PS Tilke must've done a rain dance for Malaysia and Shanghai cos the rain and not the circuit made for good spectating

Posted by Skuby on 27/05/2010

another bad circuit from tilke , really do they notice this ? that all the new circuits are not good at all ? also I prefered the race in NJ in a street circuit

Posted by Daniel on 27/05/2010

Agreed. Bernie Ecclestone was once asked why F1 still goes to Monaco when the cars had outgrown the circuit. His response was, 'You need different types of circuits in a championship.' And he was exactly right then; he seems to have forgotten that lately though.

Posted by Martin on 27/05/2010

I can't believe they have made such and appaling decision. (Well,actually I can - Bernier only cares about lining the pockets of himself and his mates - who then owe him favours).

Racing isn't even secondary to Bernie's income potential. The fans come in front of it only because its us thet Bernie is sucking the money out of.

Mosely is gone which is fantastic but I think the only thing that will save F1 in the long term is when Bernie steps down (or is pushed? - PLEASE SOMEBODY!)

Posted by Martin W on 27/05/2010

I can't agree more....we need more circuits that have character like Monza, San Marino, & Spa. Tilke will produce exactly what he's been producing all over the world; boring circuits that produce boring racing. When F1 is scheduled to race on a Tilke circuit, I equate it to golf on TV; a good excuse for a 2 hour nap. His designs are killing what was once the best motor racing spectacle in the world............but not anymore.

Posted by paxter on 27/05/2010

Transparency and fairness isn't words ppl normally associate to in F1. But i must defend sepang isn't overly that bad i have been to melbourne, singapore and sepang. Sepang has its fun factors if you have the $$$ the first turn after the start /finish straight has the best view for overtaking and get to see about 3 more turns from that point.

And the recent sepang race i took the advice of a office mate, and decided to take the cheapest ticket C2 which u get to see half the circuit clearly and unobstructed by anything. That was the most satisfying race i ever been to to follow and track the car for pretty much half of the circuit right till the last corner before the finish line.

That is a good spectators circuit. Want to make F1 interesting? get FIA head out of their asses...

Posted by Michael on 27/05/2010

Mmm... I don't think too much that the tracks designed by Tilke are entirely Boring. Its just he hasn't heard of this word called CHICANES. Its like he is anti-Chicane. All of them seem to be Esses. But yeah, drop the front wing like it was in the 90's, problem solved. they are too high and therefore the air coming from the car in front is not assisting them but slowing them down.

Posted by RF on 27/05/2010

Someone recruit Bob Lutz to run F1. At least he clearly understands it's all about the product.

F1 in the US? Watkins Glen, Leguna Seca, Road America, Mid-Ohio. Maybe none are near population centers but they're arguably the some of the best road courses in the world. And people would flock to any of these tracks to see an F1 race.

Posted by ed llorca on 27/05/2010

Tilke... bore snore. His designs have no character whatsoever. How can there not be a design competition? Certainly because Bernie hasn't retired yet (praise the day he does). the only silver lining to the Tilke announcement would be that the chances of this venue going the way donington are still high although as a fan in the US the whole choice of Tilke track or no track is a lose-lose choice.

Posted by Justin Timberland on 27/05/2010

hoping that the regulations next year will make races exciting. it's the double diffusers that are a major contributor to boring races this year. it produces so much "dirty air" that it makes the front wing totally useless.

looking forward to regulations for next year:
- ban on double diffusers
- ban on the so-called F-Ducts
- return of KERS

Posted by Rob on 27/05/2010

Can you say 'monopolist'? What material decision in the last decade has F1 taken that hasn't reinforced the monopoly??

Posted by Brent on 27/05/2010

Paxter "isn't overly that bad", is not really mounting much defense. I find it astonishing that the builders of this $300M facility are not having a design competition, why wouldn't you want several designers interpetations of what should be done with the land. My own opinion is that Ecclestone (or some relative)financially benefits from Tilke building the track. So it was "Austin you want the race? Then Tilke does the design". It's to bad because I would go to Austin to see F1, but won't support a Tilke thing.

Posted by James on 27/05/2010

Don't know if it's 100% Tilke's fault--it's probably a combination of different factors--but F1 is becoming boring because it's becoming too sterile and safe. When all you have to do is drive in a straight line, hit the brakes hard and turn right or left, it's gotta be fairly easy for these guys to not make many mistakes. Mistakes make overtaking possible.

It's just hard to believe that Tilke's design philosophy hasn't changed after seeing the lack of overtaking on all of his circuits. Dude, your designs aren't working. Change your thinking. Isn't that what design professionals do?

But it's also gotta be continued fall-out from Imola 1994. After that race, Max and the FIA went on a mission to make F1 the safest and most boring sport in the world. That mentality needs to change, but how do you come out and say "we're going to design a track that is more dangerous than usual"? Gotta figure out a way out of this mess.

Posted by geri on 27/05/2010

maybe ban on all updates only cars no wings no front wing no diffuser and specially no changes tyres hahahha maybe changes the game use KERS and HYBRID and use REMOTE control then FIA bye bye F1 hahahha

get back the 2007 cars that is F1

Posted by Anonymous on 27/05/2010

What Tilke never seems to understand is that it's not just the turn at the end of the straight, but the one leading ON to the straight that promotes passing.

If aero degradation prevents you from following the guy ahead closely enough onto the straight, you're not going to be close enough to get by at the end.

Posted by Kyle W on 27/05/2010

Ugh, another Tilke track. At least Indy was a spectacle, Austin will be just another bland Tilke venue that will alienate fans with boring races after the initial glitz wears off (not likely to take long in the US). Hopefully Bernie's successor will understand that fans care more about the racing on the track than the size of the metro population of the city.

Posted by John Edwards on 27/05/2010

Totally agree on Tilke. First off lets get the good news out the way:

Sepang isn't bad although their isn't oftena decent race their and he did well in Turkey because he had some gradient to work with which gave it character and its got one really really long straight rather than a load of middle length straights which are fed by slow corners which actually does create overtaking.

Abu Dhabi is an appalling waste of money, thats what happens when you have a limitless budget, one of the worst circuits ever created. Bahrain doesn't have a single challenging corner and he well and truly made a mess of the Hockenheim redesign.

Can you now see why Silverstone used Populous and not Tilke? I can!!!!!

I cannot see this Texas thing happening, they need to go to one of the great courses like Laguna Seca or Road America if its ever going to work. F1 needs the best tracks not purpose built composite circuits.

Posted by Tim C on 27/05/2010

Having Tilke design the track is the least of there problems. Just like Indy, Austin is a small market and difficult to ge to as there is not an international airport nearby. Bernie needs to be more strategic when it comes to locating the US race. Another failure would be hard to overcome.


Posted by Franchy Alba on 27/05/2010

F1 should take a lesson MLB learned about ballparks when in the 70s they made a buncho of Cookie Cutter parks with no soul and that made the fans feel they where always in the same park regardless of the team, i believe that now ball parks have soul and character and thats why MLB fans came back to the stadiums, if F1 doesnt start listening to the fans and give then what they want we will see more fans go to other sports with soul!

Posted by Bill Hilliard on 27/05/2010

Bring back the "Glen", purpose built for F1..Already in place, has a management team, and a Glorious history, such as Spa and Monza..One of the favorite venue's in its day, this coming from names like, Stewart, Moss, Lauda, Andretti to name a few..Paddock and safty would need to be addressed but, cheaper then all new. The Glen also already host's IRL, NASCAR and sports cars all of which would benefit from upgrades. Past records show it would also draw the big crowds. When the event was held there 100K plus crowds were the norm, they will not even see close to that this weekend in Istanbul? If you want to party Bernie get in your Heli and Head to NYC for the evening. It should be about the racing and the fans not about what geography offers you???

Posted by The Hand on 27/05/2010

I agree. Do you ever hear tracks designed by Tilke mentioned as the favorites of the fans or the drivers?

World class tracks, Places like: Monza, Spa, Laguna Seca, Monaco etc. Would you include any Tilke designed courses in this list?

His standard track design is flawed. He has long straights with hairpins at the end to encourage passing, but in the lead up to the straight he typically has a high sleed sweeper, making it so the chasing car cant close up to use the straight and make the pass. Result, passing is stifled.

Lets get some variation! and use someone who is not afraid to use chnages in elevation, as opposed to the flat tracks.

Posted by Snake on 28/05/2010

As I have understood it, Tilke has always had to make do with locations GIVEN to him, not so much locations CHOSEN by him. This time, the location is anything but flat, and he knows what the organizers want: fast, challenging, and long. This is his chance to leave a circuit that will be revered for decades to come. I hope he seizes that opportunity.

Posted by mark waller on 28/05/2010

The new US bunch should require Tilke to consult with a committee of current F-1 drivers. Ask the top 8 about the best overtaking spots on the current calendar, or for that matter any circuits used within the last 15 years, and they would identify them. Then take at least 8-12 of those corners, combine them into a single new circuit, and Austin will stay on the map for F-1 as one of the greats.

Posted by Fat on 28/05/2010

So Tilke is to design the new Austin track? Great, another F1 race with no passing and an overall boring procession. Can't wait.

Posted by Chris H on 28/05/2010

Couldn't agree more with this article. When i first heard about the new track at Austin, despite my initial thoughts of 'great there is the possibility to build a fantastic track with hills and fast bends and downhill sections etc..' after about 5 seconds i thought to myself, heck who am i kidding, Tilke will design it and it will be just another flat boring track like all his other tracks. When will Bernie realise its no accident the best races and most attended are at the 'classic' tracks, few of which unfortunately still remain on the calendar.

Posted by Danilo on 28/05/2010

I couldn't agree more. Tilke's design is boring and that's a fact. Guys before WWII new better, which parts of the public roads must be used for interesting racing. And from those days, we have old Nord Schleiffe, Spa (although perfectly redesigned in 80's), Le Mans, etc. And also from that time, we have Monza and Indianapolis.
And I belive, that States have very intersting tracks, already built: Watkins Glen, Road America, Portland, Long Beach, etc.
We need diversity!

Posted by Rahul on 28/05/2010

We need more circuits like Sao Paolo, San MArino, Monza, with a typical flavour to it. Malaysia has produced zero overtakig processions for years now. It is not healthy for F1 at all.

Posted by rainman07 on 29/05/2010

oh hell no, not another Tilke "areanabore of motor sport"....damn, get rid of this guy...his track design blows...and it never changes...they all blow

Posted by Riza on 31/05/2010

I agreed with Justin, I think the main factor wasn't from the circuit itself, it's more from the regulations. Back in the 80s and early 90s the sport is more entertaining to watch, because it has more freedom in everywhere.

The regulations that made boring races, I bet if the cars that the drivers were using modified street cars for racing, they will make the show live again, they can overtake from anyside they want, it's not racing if the regulations concerns about financial stuff or other stuff like that, it's not racing if it's not dangerous, that's why there's speed limit in public roads.

I bet the slowest engine that installed in the backmarker cars will still be competitive as is the engine of the front runners if its installed on Red Bull, Ferrari or McLaren, engine freeze is really sucks.

So it's all up to FIA to the make quality of racing, if there is more democracy in F1, then they should listen from the fans and spectators' side as well, and it is simple as that :)

Posted by Christian Louboutin on 10/06/2010

Really nice and impressive blog i found today.

Posted by Yoda99 on 13/07/2010

Wow, such negativity. I'll wait until I see the new track in the US. It could be a beauty.

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