Ranked: The best and worst F1 tracks on the F1 2023 calendar

Red Bull and Ferrari on track during the Monaco Grand Prix. Monte Carlo, F1 tracks May 2022. Credit: Alamy
Red Bull and Ferrari on track during the Monaco Grand Prix. Monte Carlo, F1 tracks May 2022. Credit: Alamy

We all have our favourite (and least favourite) F1 tracks, and we put our heads together here at PlanetF1.com to think about where we rank each of them on the 2023 calendar.

But rather than doing a countdown to an outright number one, we have taken a slightly different approach and grouped them into the cream of the crop, down to the ones which are tough to love.

With Formula 1 set to visit 24 circuits in 2023 (23 of which confirmed at time of publication), we have a lot of F1 tracks to get through in our list – and of course, there is every chance you will disagree with where some of these circuits end up in the groupings. Let us know what your tier lists look like.

So, without further ado, here is a look at our rankings for F1 tracks being used in 2023.

Elite

Silverstone, Great Britain

What better place to start than the host of Formula 1’s first ever race back in 1950?

Silverstone has undergone plenty of layout changes over time to keep up with how the sport has developed over the years, the last coming in 2010, but its most iconic corners have remained throughout – and seeing a Formula 1 car work its way through Copse, Maggotts, Becketts and Stowe in qualifying trim is a wonderful sight of both driver and machine working at full capacity to this day.

It remains one of the fastest and most popular F1 tracks out there and with the majority of the teams being based in the UK, it’s a ‘home’ race for a significant portion of the paddock as an added bonus.

Monza, Italy

The Temple of Speed has the double whammy of being Formula 1’s fastest circuit, and hosting one of the sport’s most passionate fan bases as the tifosi show their colours for Ferrari every year.

Up there with winning at Monaco on any driver’s bucket list would also be winning the Italian Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver, and only 11 people have managed to do so – Charles Leclerc being the last in 2019.

With an iconic blend of high-speed corners such as the Ascari Chicane, Parabolica and the two Lesmo corners broken up with chicanes and hard-braking zones, overtaking is always possible and, as should always be the aim in Formula 1, simply being fast is key.

Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

Along with the circuit next on this list, Spa often shows up as being at the top of the drivers’ favourite tracks in Formula 1.

It’s the longest track on the calendar but it also plays host to some of the sport’s best-loved corners, with the plunge down from La Source followed by the flat-out rise through Eau Rouge and Raidillon to kick-start a rip-roaring lap through the Ardennes.

G-forces are significant through the entry of left-handers of Pouhon and Blanchimont, with the drivers working hard through some of the fastest corners on the calendar in search of the best lap time.

Suzuka, Japan

Sebastian Vettel said Suzuka “must have been designed by the Gods” after his final practice session at the circuit in 2022 and it is easy to understand why.

The uphill Esses of the first sector are followed by a high-speed mix of brilliance as the downforce of Formula 1 cars are truly put to the test and how brave drivers are feeling.

How late dare they brake into Spoon Curve? How much speed can they carry through the Degners? Do you try a pass at the final chicane? (Though the 1989 season finale may not be the best example of how to do that).

A mainstay on the modern Formula 1 calendar and a host to one of the all-time great individual drives from Kimi Raikkonen in 2005.

Interlagos, Brazil

Being roared on by a packed crowd at Interlagos, still one of the finest F1 tracks around, will be an exhilarating feeling and despite it being more than 80 years old as a circuit, modern Formula 1 cars do not look out of place and it continually produces great races, year after year.

Of course, the title deciders held at Interlagos will be at the forefront of people’s minds, but let us not forget that the track itself is still superb.

The downhill plunge of the Senna S, round and down to Descida do Lago presents a great overtaking opportunity, the rise uphill through the high-speed right-hander of Ferradura is a neck killer for the drivers and nailing the exit of Juncao is key to finishing the lap properly. A true driver’s circuit and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Now, we know Monaco’s placing on this list will be divisive. But come on, it’s still the jewel in the crown of Formula 1, right?

Nailing a qualifying lap around the streets of Monaco, particularly in the ever-growing Formula 1 cars of today, must still be up there with the best feeling any driver can have.

The Monaco Grand Prix is iconic for so many reasons, and even though most other F1 tracks at least offer a place to be able to overtake, the challenge of the Principality first comes in even finishing at all and how close you dare get to the walls.

We are prepared to die on this hill!

Great

Baku, Azerbaijan

Baku might have only been on the calendar since 2016, but it has already established itself as both a daunting challenge for the drivers and a circuit which produces very good races. A great combination for F1 tracks.

The layout is the third-longest on the calendar and features a flat-out final sector which sees drivers at full throttle for around 2.2km from the left-hander of Turn 17, right the way up to Turn 1.

The middle sector twists through Baku’s Old City, with Turns 8 and 9 seeing the cars squirrel uphill at the narrowest point of the Formula 1 calendar – even tighter than Monaco – along the city’s Fortress Wall, before opening out again.

With solid overtaking opportunities and a big challenge for both driver and car, as one Daniel Ricciardo might say: “Well done, Baku.”

Imola, Italy [Emilia Romagna]

“We need more tracks like this in F1, because this is ****ing awesome” was George Russell’s assessment after his first laps around Imola upon its return to the calendar, and it’s hard to disagree with him.

The 1994 season will have Imola forever etched into Formula 1 history for the tragedies of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger and while changes were subsequently made to make the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari safer, particularly in the first sector, it still retains the characteristics which makes it such a challenge for the drivers.

The high-speed run from Tosa up to Piratella, plunging down to the braking zone at Acqua Minerale remains a glorious piece of racetrack, and Imola’s elevation changes along with its myriad challenges make it a firm favourite.

Montreal, Canada

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of the most popular on the Formula 1 calendar for a reason, and it has produced some of the sport’s best ever races (Jenson Button’s last-gasp win in 2011, anyone?), but every great circuit needs a bit of notoriety – and it got that in 1999.

Four drivers, three of which were World Champions, crashed into the wall coming out of the final chicane, and thus the Wall of Champions was born.

It remains a challenging circuit for the drivers to navigate, but with good overtaking opportunities down the back straight and entertaining races more often than not, Montreal is onto a winner.

Red Bull Ring, Austria

On paper, this looks like the easiest track layout the drivers have all year – and the official Formula 1 game lists the Red Bull Ring as ‘Very Easy’ on its difficulty rankings, but that is not necessarily a barrier to great racing.

In fact, the simplicity of the layout, only 10 turns, has offered up some extremely entertaining racing since it returned to the sport in 2014.

The climb up to Turn 3 and plunge down to Turn 4, and downhill finish to the lap in Turns 9 and 10 make it trickier than meets the eye, and a thrill ride for the drivers as well. The location of the track is also absolutely stunning. What’s not to like?

Marina Bay, Singapore

Formula 1’s biggest physical challenge? Given the humidity, low average speed and 23 tough corners, Singapore is the track the drivers train hardest for all year, and there’s good reason for it.

Singapore is already enshrined among F1 tracks as the sport’s original night race, and the twists and turns around the streets of Marina Bay are a true test of a driver’s talent and fitness.

Wet weather is always a possibility too, and we have seen some excellent racing around Singapore in the past, and it really can separate the good from the great.

Circuit of The Americas, Austin

Austin’s Formula 1 track was circuit designer Hermann Tilke’s attempt at recreating some of the best parts of other circuits from around the world, and putting them together into one super-design.

Turns 3, 4 and 5 are a nod to Silverstone’s Maggotts and Becketts, with Turns 16 to 18 a right-handed reversal of Istanbul Park’s fearsome four-apex Turn 8, and the final corner, Turn 20, now named in honour of the great Mario Andretti.

With a decade under its belt in Formula 1, crowds growing year by year and COTA throwing up some excellent racing, it has earned a place high on our rankings.

Good

Sakhir International, Bahrain

Bahrain has thrown up some solid races since its arrival in Formula 1, perhaps most notably in 2014 with the ‘Duel in the Desert’ between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, and the previous two season openers involving Hamilton and Max Verstappen, then Verstappen and Charles Leclerc subsequently, have both been corkers.

With a mixture of corner types, elevation changes and good overtaking opportunities, Sakhir is perhaps one of Tilke’s more underappreciated designs used in F1, and it has taken on Barcelona’s mantle for pre-season testing in 2023.

Albert Park, Melbourne

Formula 1’s opening round for so long, the sport heading to Australia always brings back happy thoughts of the season being on in earnest, and Albert Park presented a solid enough layout to start the year for the drivers.

A unique four DRS zones were in use around the circuit to try and spice up the racing action however, with overtaking having often been an issue around Melbourne – though it was dropped back to three on safety grounds.

But with a re-working of the layout to make the temporary street track faster last year, there could yet be room for further improvement on the racing side of things at Albert Park which could boost it further up the rankings in future.

Hungaroring, Hungary

A fixture on the Formula 1 calendar since 1986, the Hungaroring is possibly the layout among today’s F1 tracks which you could argue most resembles a karting circuit.

Short, sharp bursts of throttle between medium-speed corners make up the second and third sectors, with the long final right-hander onto the pit straight giving the best overtaking opportunity of the lap, before another short straight to the second braking zone gives any car being passed the chance to get their opponents back straight away.

Lewis Hamilton is very much the Hungaroring specialist in the field, with eight wins to his name in Budapest, but with surprise wins for Daniel Ricciardo in 2014 and Esteban Ocon in 2021, it’s capable of throwing up the odd unexpected result too.

Zandvoort, Netherlands

Formula 1 returned to the Netherlands after a 36-year absence in 2021 and Zandvoort quickly became a sea of orange in honour of home hero Max Verstappen, but while the re-profiled track has been brought up to Formula 1 standards, it has been a relatively popular addition to the calendar thus far.

The banking around Turns 3 and 14 in particular give Zandvoort something of a ‘rollercoaster’ feel among its narrow twists and high-speed turns.

Like the Hungaroring, the narrow width of the circuit does not lend itself well to constant wheel-to-wheel racing, but the challenge of the track and its layout makes up for what it can sometimes lack in action.

Hard to love

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia arrived in Formula 1 with its hope of creating the world’s fastest street circuit in Jeddah. It did so, but with one significant flaw: it’s very, very dangerous.

The close walls and high speeds around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit have led to multiple moments of squinting in Formula 1’s two visits to date, not least at the 140mph unsighted entry to the Turn 22/23 chicane, and similar speeds at Turn 10/11, where Mick Schumacher was sent flying backwards into a concrete wall in qualifying in 2022, leaving him requiring a trip to hospital and with a wrecked Haas chassis.

Jeddah has the second-highest average speed on the calendar behind Monza, but with Monaco-like walls around some of its 27 corners, the most on any of the 2023 F1 tracks.

Barcelona, Spain

There has been some good racing around Barcelona in the past – not every year, granted – but given how much testing there has also been at the circuit and how well the drivers know it, it just seems to lack an excitement factor.

It’s a good all-rounder of a circuit, with low, medium and high-speed corners to negotiate – hence why it makes such a good test track – but barring the home support for Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz, it is seemingly difficult for the drivers to summon up much enthusiasm for racing at the circuit.

The removal of the chicane in the final sector to recreate the final sweeping right-hander of years gone by may be a starting point, with the track homologated with both layouts, but Formula 1’s official website still has the chicane layout listed for now.

Miami, USA

While the spectacle of racing around Florida brought out the stars (and not-at-all fake marinas) in Miami, first impressions weren’t great when it came to the actual racing on the circuit in 2022.

The track surface was subject to driver complaints, and there were concerns over safety in the second sector – particularly at the narrow Turn 14/15 chicane which goes over a crest and fires drivers towards a wall upon exit, which even left the track’s designer with “embarrassment” after the race was run.

Expect to see changes made to the circuit in Miami before Formula 1 makes its return in 2023, and hopefully the drivers will take more kindly to it this time around.

Mexico City, Mexico

Before you get angry about the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez appearing in this lowly category of our ranking of F1 tracks, this comes with a HUGE disclaimer.

The Mexico City Grand Prix and the support for Sergio Perez is absolutely second to none. It lays claim to possibly being the best atmosphere at a race weekend of the whole season, but thinking purely in terms of a track layout, does it inspire the same kind of awe and racing as some of the others on this list?

We would argue, sadly not. Bar the enormous 1.2km pit straight which has seen the cars reach Monza levels of top speed, the rest of the lap itself is quite slow and technical, with some medium-speed corners in the middle sector, and the amount of wheel-to-wheel racing usually lacks.

The re-profiled, twisty final sector through the Foro Sol Stadium is spectacular to look at, but you get the feeling the former sweeping final right-hander of Peraltada would be the drivers’ choice of layout, if they were given the option.

Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi

It may host the season finale year after year, but beyond that, it is tricky to find a place in the heart for Abu Dhabi in the pantheon of current F1 tracks on the calendar.

The circuit changes made in time for 2021 certainly helped, replacing the slow chicane in the first sector with a longer run to Turn 5, as well as removing the three-apex chicane in the middle sector in favour of a long left-hander.

Opening up the apex to the penultimate corner has also made the track an overall faster layout and more of a rollercoaster ride for the drivers, but bar the title drama of 2021 and 2010, it is hard to remember too many standout races from Yas Marina.

Jury still out

Las Vegas, USA

We cannot draw any conclusions on Las Vegas yet, simply because Formula 1 has not raced around the streets of Sin City at time of writing.

There is only so much you can do in terms of layout regarding street circuits, and by the standards of modern F1 tracks it looks relatively basic for the drivers to get a handle upon, with several long straights (including the iconic Las Vegas Strip), broken up with kinks and chicanes.

Time will tell if it proves to be a challenge or not, but sometimes a tricky layout isn’t everything, it’s about the racing the circuit produces.

Losail, Qatar

Of the newer F1 tracks, this could potentially move quite high up the rankings but after only one run around the circuit in 2021, it feels too early to say without more evidence about where to put it.

Losail was constructed with motorcycle racing in mind but the long, open-angled corners appeared to work quite well with Formula 1 cars, and received a few compliments from the drivers when they went racing there two years ago.

Qatar has now joined the calendar on a long-term basis, so we will get more of an idea about the quality of racing around Losail in years to come.

The early indication is that this could potentially move up to the good category. We’ll wait and see…

Read more: F1 points system explained: How can drivers score points in F1 2023?

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