Formula 1 is set for a record 23-race season in 2021 – pandemic permitting – as grands prix stretch from the Bahrain season opener on March 28 to the Abu Dhabi finale on December 12.
That means wall-to-wall racing through most of the spring, summer and autumn (with a short breather in August) which is great for TV viewers, but makes for a punishing schedule for the hard-working teams. Ex-F1 driver and top Sky F1 TV pundit Karun Chandhok will be at most of them and offers Autocar his expert view on each of the tracks, covering individual circuit characteristics, set-up tips, the best overtaking spots, the key corners to bank quick lap times and what we’ve called ‘The Talent Zone’ (in other words the hardest bits).
Monza | Sochi | Istanbul Park | Suzuka | Austin | Mexico | Interlagos | Melbourne | Jeddah | Yas Marina COMPLETED RACES Sakhir | Imola | Portimao | Catalunya | Monte-Carlo | Baku | Paul Ricard | Red Bull Ring | Silverstone | Hungaroring | Spa-Francorchamps | Zandvoort
14 Monza, Italian GP (Sep 12)
Character: From one of the highest downforce tracks we go to the lowest. I like Monza because of the history of the place, but also it’s the only true low-downforce track we have on the calendar now. It’s nice to go to something different. The calendar needs a balance of variety and Monza offers that.
Set-up strategy: Obviously low downforce. A car that allows you to have good braking stability and good traction despite the low downforce.
Best overtaking spot: The first and second chicanes.
Key corner for a quick lap: The last corner, Parabolica.
The Talent Zone: The Ascari chicane.
Most wins: Michael Schumacher, 5 (1996, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006); Lewis Hamilton, 5 (2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018)
15 Sochi, Russian GP (Sep 26)
Character: Not the most exciting track layout. It has a very low-grip surface, so there is very low tyre degradation. There’s always a bit of chaos at the first corner.
Set-up strategy: You need a car that’s going to help the tyres work and get in the right operating window because of the low grip. Braking stability is also quite important.