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

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?

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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Mike Duff

Mike Duff
Title: Contributing editor

Mike has been writing about cars for more than 25 years, having defected from radio journalism to follow his passion. He has been a contributor to Autocar since 2004, and is a former editor of the Autocar website. 

Mike joined Autocar full-time in 2007, first as features editor before taking the reins at Being in charge of the video strategy at the time saw him create our long running “will it drift?” series. For which he apologies.

He specialises in adventurous drive stories, many in unlikely places. He once drove to Serbia to visit the Zastava factory, took a £1500 Mercedes W124 E-Class to Berlin to meet some of its taxi siblings and did Scotland’s North Coast 500 in a Porsche Boxster during a winter storm. He also seems to be a hypercar magnet, having driven such exotics as the Koenigsegg One:1, Lamborghini SCV12, Lotus Evija and Pagani Huayra R.

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GODFATHER 24 March 2018

Put bluntly, his tracks are

Put bluntly, his tracks are all rubbish

david RS 24 March 2018

But, you have nice VIP rooms

But, you have nice VIP rooms nowadays.


carcrazy_adhi 24 March 2018

High on promise, low on actual execution

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