What is a street circuit in Formula One (F1)?

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Here’s everything you need to know about street circuits in Formula One

Street circuits stand out as some of the most demanding and thrilling tracks featured in the Formula 1 calendar. What sets them apart in the world of motorsports is the necessity for teams to modify their car configurations and drivers to adjust their driving techniques.

A Formula 1 track earns the label “street circuit” if it comprises entirely or in part of sections of public roads that are temporarily closed off for racing purposes.

To illustrate, the Monaco racetrack serves as a public road throughout the year, only transforming into a race circuit during the Grand Prix weekend. However, it’s worth noting that certain street circuits are purposefully constructed tracks designed for racing.

Monaco Street circuit
Monaco Street circuit

Most conventional Formula 1 circuits are meticulously constructed with racing in mind, offering a favorable environment for car setups and engineering adjustments. In contrast, street circuits undergo no alterations or bespoke design. They are, essentially, regular public roads temporarily sealed off for racing, a condition that is less than ideal for Formula 1 cars.

Street circuits hold a special appeal for fans due to the heightened stakes and the potential for dramatic moments they offer.

These circuits often act as great equalizers in the world of Formula 1 because of their narrow and challenging layouts, which tend to shift the spotlight onto the driver’s skill and courage rather than the performance of the car itself. This effect of leveling the playing field was clearly evident in the 2021 season when Mercedes faced difficulties on street circuits while performing exceptionally well on other types of tracks.

What are some of the most notable F1 street circuits?

1. Monaco Grand Prix: The Monaco Grand Prix is the crown jewel of Formula 1 racing, held in the glitzy surroundings of Monte Carlo. This street circuit is known for its tight, winding roads, iconic casino backdrop, and the famous tunnel section. The challenging track layout and the proximity of the barriers make it a true test of skill for F1 drivers.


2. Singapore Grand Prix: The Singapore Grand Prix is a mesmerizing night race that weaves through the heart of Singapore’s urban landscape. The track is beautifully illuminated, showcasing the city’s skyline. It’s a demanding circuit with numerous corners, making it physically and mentally taxing for the drivers.

3. Baku City Circuit (Azerbaijan Grand Prix): Located in the capital city of Baku, this circuit offers a unique blend of tight, narrow sections through the old town and high-speed straights along the Caspian Sea. It’s famous for its long main straight, which often leads to dramatic overtaking opportunities.


4. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Yas Marina Circuit): Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi boasts a stunning track design and a unique pit exit that passes under a hotel. The race begins in twilight and transitions to a night race, creating a visually spectacular atmosphere.

5. Canadian Grand Prix (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve): Located on Île Notre-Dame in Montreal, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve features long straights and challenging chicanes. The passionate Canadian fans and the “Wall of Champions” add to the circuit’s allure.

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