F1 Track Walks: Why do Teams & drivers do it?

Published 10/07/2021, 12:58 PM EDT
Formula One F1 – Turkish Grand Prix – Intercity Istanbul Park, Istanbul, Turkey – October 7, 2021 Alpine’s Fernando Alonso with team members ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix REUTERS/Umit Bektas


Over the 2021 F1 season, there had been this particular question buzzing into the ears of the drivers – Do you prefer track walks? Many including season favorites, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, even downplayed the importance of track walks.

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This may have led many to wonder ‘what is a track walk?’ Well, it’s not really complicated. Track walks usually take place on Thursdays, ahead of a race weekend. And the sole purpose of it is to gather some idea about the changes that particular track had gone through.

By changes, it could be anything. For instance, a track may have had minor changes to certain parts due to relaying of the tarmac or maybe, the organizers might have altered the size of the kerbs. Yes, these changes are hardly significant. However, for a car as sensitive as the ones in Formula 1, it is certainly a huge deal.

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Charles Leclerc explains F1 track walk

Ahead of the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc, briefed on the importance of track walks in F1. Of course, on one side, it is to provide a technical edge over other teams.

But, there is also another side, where track walks play a crucial role in giving the engineers designated 1.5 hours to spend time together amidst a rather chaotic Thursday.

Basically, on the first day, we do the track walk to see the differences from the previous year if it’s a track that was already there on the calendar. Otherwise, if it’s a new track, just to see how the track is like, how it feels, how are the kerbs for us, the drivers, which ones we can take, which ones we can’t take,” he said.

And it’s also the moment during the first day that the first day’s busy for everyone. So, it’s a moment where we got an hour-and-a-half to spend time together, and think obviously of the weekend and prepare for the weekend in the best way possible.

Which drivers don’t prefer track walks?

Indeed, this is a rather short list, with Hamilton and Verstappen being the only ones to avoid track walks. The reason these drivers get the choice of opting against track walks is their abundant experience in the sport.

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Formula One F1 – British Grand Prix – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain – July 18, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen before the race Pool via REUTERS/Lars Baron

All of the above-mentioned drivers have spent enough time on the track, having raced around most of the Grade-1 circuits. However, when it comes to new-age drivers like Mick Schumacher, Lando Norris, George Russell, and others, track walks are pretty much mandatory.

Overall, most of the F1 grid still continues to do track walks, and it looks more like a tradition at the moment. But, for some, it is nothing but mere superstition.

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Rohit Kumar

1251 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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