Lewis Hamilton has said that he is a fan of the Donington Park circuit. The 4-time World Champion raced on the circuit during his junior single-seater career. According to him, Donington contains driving challenges that are “way harder than all the corners in F1”. In Formula 1’s quest to improve the quality of racing, they are debating if grand prix circuits need to change.
Hamilton was one of the critics of the 2017 season finale in Abu Dhabi due to its layout not being overtake-friendly. He believes that the sport needs to make its tracks more challenging for drivers. His argument was that the presence of run-off areas on modern circuits has made them too easy to drive. It reduces the chances of drivers making mistakes.
He said, “The FIA have done an amazing job, but they’ve really got to stop with these run-off areas – you shouldn’t be able to cut a corner like you see [drivers doing]. What I love about the olden days – of course you don’t want to crash, but if you go wide you’ve got to lose time. Now you can approach a corner knowing that if you go in 5% too much you can go wide and come back on. I don’t love that. I used to love Oulton Park and Donington. Donington, Old Hairpin was a nightmare – you have to come off the brakes and run the speed in, use the downforce.
“Then up the hill and the second right before the back straight – you can’t even see the white line. There is white line and then gravel and the gravel sucks you off. Oh man! Finding the limit there, that corner is way harder than all the corners in F1. Coppice. That’s the sort of corner F1 is missing. If we had that back in F1, it would bring another level to the challenge.”
From the current crop of circuits, Hamilton picked out particular parts of Austin, Silverstone, Spa and Suzuka as his favourite corners to drive in 2017’s F1 cars. “The high-speed corners this year have been, phwoar!” Hamilton added. “Pouhon at Spa; the best corners of the season are generally Austin [Turns] 3-4-5-6-7 – they are awesome. Silverstone, Copse and then Maggotts and Becketts; Suzuka Esses – they are the special ones. For some reason Austin is the best set-up because there are different lines you can take within that. Suzuka it is very hard to have a different line and race. That’s why I love Austin. It’s one of my favourite tracks, actually, and I don’t like new tracks usually.”