7 of the greatest race track corners
The finest curves and corners in motorsport
Eau Rouge at Spa-Francorchamps race track during a 24-hour race
The best race tracks are like great drivers – iconic, challenging and incredibly exciting. But ask a driver what makes a circuit really stand out and they’ll say its corners. We list some of the very best
Eau Rouge • Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot, Belgium
Porsche 911 GT3 R heading up Eau Rouge, Spa-Francorchamps
To many racing drivers, Spa-Francorchamps is the world’s greatest race track – and the legendary Eau Rouge its finest section
The Eau Rouge curve embodies what great motor racing is all about – fast, blind and extremely demanding. It has created countless brilliant moments, and plenty of spills too. Today, Eau Rouge – its named after the stream that the track crosses at this point – divides opinion. Is it too dangerous? Or is it special for that very reason? Whatever your view, this section of asphalt on the Circuit Spa-Francorchamps leading up to the Raidillon bend has gone down in racing history.Porsche Curves • Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France
Porsche RSR on the Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans
It takes a race car around 17 seconds to negotiate the series of five corners known as the Porsche Curves at Le Mans
Porsche and the Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans have a long and illustrious association – and the naming of the Porsche Curves is a vivid example of that. As the name suggests, this incredibly captivating section of the track consists of more than one bend – technically its five – but that makes this stretch of this iconic circuit even more captivating as a result. This fast combination of two right-hand and three left-hand bends poses immense challenges for both teams and drivers in terms of downforce and grip. During the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, the cars’ average speed over these five bends is over 210 km/h, providing a true ‘spectacle’, as Jörg Bergmeister, long-standing Porsche works driver and Porsche Brand Ambassador, describes it.Senna S • Interlagos, São Paolo, Brazil
The Senna S at the Interlagos circuit, São Paolo, Brazil
The first set of bends at São Paolo’s Interlagos race track are named after hometown hero, the late Ayrton Senna
Interlagos is an undulating rollercoaster in the shape of a race track, perhaps the very finest example in motorsport of how elevation changes can define the character of a course. Appropriately, the first bend you encounter on this counter-clockwise circuit (most tracks in F1, for example, run clockwise) is named after the driver many consider the best pure ‘racer’ the sport has ever seen – the late, great Ayrton Senna, a São Paolo native. A demanding downhill section that guarantees overtaking manoeuvres, the Senna S is undoubtedly one of the greatest race track corners anywhere.Caracciola-Karussell • Nürburgring Nordschleife, Nürburg, Germany
Flat view of the Carraciola-Karussell corner at the Nürburgring Nordschleife
Some 13km into the epic track known as the ‘Green Hell’, the Caracciola-Karussell at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife is a particular challenge for driver and vehicle
The greatest corner, on a sprawling circuit that’s an icon to every fan of racing, that’s the Carraciola-Karussell at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. This fabled hairpin bend with its steep banking – named after German driver Rudolf Caracciola and the German word for ‘carousel’ – puts the driver and car under huge forces, especially when exiting it. “The Karussell is really something special,” says Porsche works driver Kévin Estre. “The transitions between the concrete slabs are anything but smooth. The car and the driver are really shaken up – like on a carousel at a fair. The car jumps, slides sideways and sometimes even scrapes the track.” Drivers disrespect the Karussell at their peril.The Corkscrew • Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey County, California, USA
The Corkscrew bend combination at Laguna Seca Raceway
A dynamic shot gives an indication of the steep drop of the Corkscrew combination at Laguna Seca – but to really appreciate it, you need to drive it
Spa-Francorchamps, Nürburgring-Nordschleife, Interlagos, Suzuka… the world’s greatest race tracks are usually ones with the greatest variations in elevation. And nowhere takes advantage of its topography quite as dramatically as California’s Laguna Seca Raceway. Its most famous bend, the Corkscrew, plunges down a 12 per cent gradient through a challenging combination of bends. Its name could hardly be more appropriate. Incidentally, the greatest of modern race track designers, Hermann Tilke, immortalised this combination of bends on the Porsche Experience track he designed in Leipzig. “Anyone who masters this combination of bends and does it correctly can be really proud of themselves,” says Tilke.Parabolica • Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Monza, Italy
The Parabolica bend at Monza with no vehicles on track
Monza’s Parabolica bend: in 2021 it was renamed the Curva Alboreto, on the 20th anniversary of the death of Italian motorsport hero, Michele Alboreto | Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Spectacular, famous and definitely notorious, when drivers made a mistake on the Parabolica curve at Monza, it nearly always cost them – get your braking wrong and you would end up in the gravel bed. While the dangers afforded by the Parabolica have dramatically diminished since 2014 – that’s when the run-off zone of this great bend was asphalted for safety reasons – its name still causes palpitations for those who drive at Monza. Built in 1922, the frighteningly quick Monza circuit remains one of the most storied of all tracks. Today, this fast right-hand bend officially bears the name Curva Alboreto in honour of Italian F1 great, Michele Alboreto. But to motorsport fans, it will always be the Parabolica. Grand Hotel hairpin • Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco
The Grand Hotel hairpin bend in Monaco during a race
The Grand Hotel hairpin bend at Monaco is arguably the most famous corner at the greatest of all street circuits
The Monaco Grand Prix remains one of Formula 1’s blue riband events – a unique combination of motorsport and glitz. Race fans have the names of the sections of this one-of-a-kind circuit ingrained in their memory. Swimming Pool, Casino, La Rascasse, Sainte Devote, Mirabeau and, that most visually famous of all its corners, the Grand Hotel hairpin. After exiting the Mirabeau Haute right-hander, you head steeply downhill towards the Grand Hotel bend. The focus here is on optimal co-ordination between accelerator, brakes and steering. Because this is a very narrow passage, the slightest acceleration can lead to a collision with a competitor or the wall. A highly technical, low-speed bend, this is the only corner where a driver has to change their grip on the steering wheel in order to build up a sufficiently large steering angle. Monaco may not be a high-speed track with sweeping overtaking stretches, but the Grand Hotel hairpin is a place where races can be won… and lost.
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