Currently reading: Hermann Tilke on designing a Formula 1 circuit
We've had a chat with the man with an unprecedented F1 track record to gauge his thoughts on the 2018 season
2 mins read
23 March 2018

Ahead of the start of the 2018 Formula 1 season, we caught up with legendary track designer Hermann Tilke, whose Aachen-based company has now produced more than 70 tracks around the world, including most of the modern-era F1 circuits.

How do you respond to criticism of your tracks being very similar?

“It is easy to criticise, and impossible to make anything 100% right, but there is always a reason for what we do and the budget is always one of the limiting factors. I’ve had people say: ‘Why can’t you make the straight 100m longer?’ Because we don’t own the land!”

How much input do the top-level drivers have?

“Of course, we talk to them... The problem is always that we try to make a track difficult for drivers, but we have the best drivers in the world, and in Formula 1 the best technology. There are three elements to the racing – the car, the driver and the track – and two of those are close to perfect. If you gave the Formula 1 cars to amateurs, you’d have more exciting races.”

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Why not use gravel traps instead of tarmac run-off areas to punish mistakes harder?

“Asphalt is safer, for cars at least. You can shorten run-off by a third compared with gravel, and when a spins, it stops very quickly. If they car go into gravel at high speed, they can skip over it and you don’t slow down when you’re flying. There’s another reason. I know people say that if there is only gravel, it is more of a penalty if you go off, which is true. But if you have a private track day and somebody goes off in their Porsche or AMG, then they are likely going to be paying for new parts. €7000 is an expensive spin.”

Are you still a Formula 1 fan? Who do you think will win in 2018?


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I’m an absolute fan. I always will be. I’m an international guy – I always say I’m a German by accident – but I still like the two German drivers, Sebastian [Vettel] and Nico [Hülkenberg]. I hope they do well.”

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23 March 2018

So a band of gravel to make sure the driver is penalised, then tarmac before the barriers? The tarmac run off narrows the gap between the merely very good drivers and the greats. F1 cars are now harder to drive, which is better, but average Joes can still push the limits safe in the knowledge they have no significant penalty if they overcook it when they run off track.


Tilke has also produced great circuits CoA, Turkey, etc.

23 March 2018


Although, as Paul says, CoA and Turkey were hits the castration of tracks like the A1 Ring and new Hockenheim suggest otherwise. Bland autodromes like Buddh, Shanghai, Yas Marina and Valencia shows me he has many more misses than hits.

Using one man, or one man's vision, for all modern F1 circuits has been a big mistake. One of the many reasons I don't watch like I used to.

23 March 2018

The man's designed some of the most boring F1 circuits in history, he's almost single handly ruined he sport, why give this man column inches?

23 March 2018

The best tracks were the public roads.


24 March 2018

The granstands look superb, but the acutal racing is far too dull on his tracks.   The only success was Austin, but I read before that he was only partly involved with the layout.


I guess the question really should be do we dump them from F1 or fix them?   And how do we fix them to get more exciting races?

24 March 2018

All of Tilke's tracks have been very high on promise, but very low on execution. take a look at these examples...

1) Buddh was expected to be fast challenging and good for overtaking - No

2) Yas Marina was supposed to be exciting - No

3) Yeongam was supposed to stay and promote the sport in Korea - No

4) Valencia should have been a likely competitor to Monaco - No

24 March 2018

But, you have nice VIP rooms nowadays.


24 March 2018

Put bluntly, his tracks are all rubbish

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