Are street circuits still appropriate for F1 racing?


Super Hero And All Round Good Guy
Are the cars simply too fast and aero dependant for the tight twisty nature of a street circuit? With narrow tracks, few true straights and large numbers or corners, is it simply no longer possible to catch, pull along side and out-brake your opponent?

Lets look at a few tracks.

Monaco the longest running street circuit in F1 has for many years now been a track that it is very difficult to overtake on. Since 1992 overtakes have been in single figures with just 3 exceptions, this year scraping into double figures partially helped by DRS and 1993 and 1997 which were wet.

Valencia has a more mixed record, with just 19 overtakes in its first 3 years in total to the DRS assisted race this year with 79 overtakes.

Singapore's Marina Bay has a similar record to Valencia just 12 overtakes in the first 2 years but 54 last year with DRS assistance.

We all know overtaking around any track has become a real issue, with the car being much more dependant on aerodynamics that they were pre 1990 and with advances in brake technology, chances are even if you could pull out for an overtake the braking distance is so short your chances are on the slim side.

Its for this reason we have 'innovations' such as DRS, KERS and 2 tyre compounds in every race. Without these overtaking would be rare indeed.

Yet despite these 'innovations' there is still no overtaking around Monaco. In 1929 when racing started at Monaco and even for the first F1 race in 1950 the cars were much slower had no aero and ran steel drum brakes. With much lower speeds and far longer braking distances, the small straights were enough, you could out brake people, it was good racing.

I think most would agree that there is a problem here, but is it the tracks or is it the cars.

Has F1 simply grown up and Monaco and other circuits no longer fit ?

Or should we accept that overtaking isn't everything and relish in the challenge of racing inches from the barriers?

For more info on overtakes click here
I still think there is something about watching the skill of the drivers round a course like Monaco, though have to admit the racing in general is a little processional. I love the idea of a driver having to race at full pelt for a few hours where the slightest deviation from the racing line will involve the barrier and flying debris. It doesn't make much of a TV spectacle for the general viewers though which is why there will probably be fewer street circuits like Monaco around in a few years time :(
TBY... I sort of agree but in 1986 cars where about 2.1m wide compared to 1.8m wide this year. I know I'm just being picky and I suspect you see the glory years of Monaco to have been well before then. However, there were great races at Monaco in the 80's and I suspect it was down to the drivers rather than the cars dimensions. I also think that there are less opportunities for driver error these days... my memory is that Monaco was all about forcing the other guy into a mistake (missed gear, etc).

Totally with you on the 50/50 circuits like Albert Park but Tilke has been trying to replicate these without much success... it should be a different thread but we need to give more opportunities for drivers to mess up and be punished rather than focus on the circuits.
I'd argue that cars have been in the past more powerful and aero dependent (turbos and ground effect cars). I think that as long as the circuit is safe for the drivers street circuits should remain. Drivers will find their way to overtake (at least some will).
Olivier The Turbo cars did have more power but they were not as quick as todays cars. Lap times around Monaco for the old Turbo era cars were around 1:25 - 1:27 todays times are a full 10 seconds quicker.
I remember that race well... especially shouting at the telly that Prost cheated that victory by forcing the stewards to stop it early.
Rooted for Mansell at the time (I was young) but really wanted Senna to do it when Nigel binned it on the lines.

Still, a certain divine retribution that Prost eventually lost the championship by 1/2 point to Lauda in the end.
I'd love to see todays F1 cars run at Long Beach but I expect the results would be pretty much the same as they are at most circuits these days. The best thing about street circuits is that a driver can't make a mistake and the lack of run off areas. I agree though that the cars themselves are too good for the tracks and failures and mistakes happen less of the time.
The best thing about street circuits is that a driver can't make a mistake and the lack of run off areas.
The problem with that is, any drivers minding their own business are inevitably caught up in any incidents as there is nowhere to go.

Monaco last year being a case in point.
Clearly, circuits are crucial to overtaking. If all we care about is overtaking, then yes, there are a few circuits we should cut, and not all of them are street circuits (I'm looking at you, Catalunya).

My position is that overtaking isn't the be-all and end-all (despite it now taking the main focus of my existence) and to be a true test of driving skill, F1 needs to visit as varied a range of circuits as possible. Monaco may not produce much of a show for the TV viewer - though there have been good races, and there is usually a form of suspense - but it's a fantastic place to watch F1 cars in the flesh and appreciate the bravery and skill of the drivers in a way that just isn't possible on a traditional purpose-built circuit.
For me it's really a case of the way other circuits have been developed or how new circuits have been planned, in a multiple race season the cars will be developed to win in the greatest number of races, if there were more Monaco style circuits then maybe cars would be developed to make them more suited. Imagine a 20 race season that included Brands, Monaco, Macao, Long Beach, Albert Park, Hungaroring and a further 8-10 similar with the "sore thumbs" being Silverstone, Spa, Monza and Istanbul Park, the cars would need to be different and the races would be different in Monaco as a result. In fact, motorcycles.
gethinceri - That would be an interesting experiment, wouldn't it? Somewhat like how the parcours of a cycling Grand Tour changes, you could have some years with a calendar weighted further towards mechanical downforce.
Places like Monaco need to remain on the schedule not only because of the tradition, but also because of the previously mentioned skill and concentration that is needed for tracks like this. Not every race can be full of overtakes, nor should it be. A true driving championship needs these change of pace circuits.
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