In evaluating the top 10 most beautiful Formula 1 destinations, we looked at three factors and asked a series of questions.
The circuit itself: What does the venue look like? Does the track have character, distinction? What's the popular perception of the circuit?
Its immediate surroundings: Where is the venue situated? If the circuit were to magically disappear, would you have any interest in visiting the area? How does the circuit fit in with what is in its proximity?
The nearest city: If the circuit doesn't run through the heart of the city, what is the closest metropolitan area? If it is a road course through an urban environment, how does it look to racers, fans?
The answers to these questions gave us a clear indication of Formula 1's most scenic venues. Continue reading for the full breakdown.
10 Circuit of the Americas - Austin, Texas
Event hosted: Formula 1 United States Grand Prix
The circuit: German Hermann Tilke’s 2012 design is one of the newer Formula 1 circuits in rotation. CoTA’s 20 turns and 133-foot elevation change are patterned after European Formula 1 circuits, including a recreation of Silverstone's Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel sequence, Hockenheim's turns, and a replica of Istanbul's Turn Eight. The track is an excellent example of modern circuit design.
CoTA, America’s first purpose-built F1 circuit, is a destination in itself.
Beyond the asphalt, CoTA includes (according to the Formula 1 website):
A medical facility, 14 executive meeting suites, a conference centre and a banquet hall, as well as an expansive outdoor live music space. Future proposed amenities include a driving/riding experience, a motorsports driving club, kart track, grand plaza event centre and tower, and a trackside recreational vehicle park.
The location: Situated in Austin, Texas (and just northeast of San Antonio) CoTA brings Formula 1 racing to the American Southwest, one of the country’s great regions. The “live music capital of the world,” Austin is the 11th-largest city in the U.S. and sits on the banks of the beautiful Colorado River. The area’s unique blend of desert and tropical regions makes it as rich geographically as it is culturally.
9 Albert Park - Melbourne, Australia
Event Hosted: Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix
The circuit: Although the Albert Park circuit isn’t the most dynamic, it still presents a challenge. Drivers circle Albert Park Lake using everyday roads. Course design near a body of water was relatively unique when Albert Park was designed in 1996, and the lake adds a unique and scenic element to an otherwise straightforward course.
The location: Just south of the city center, Albert Park is nestled in the heart of the capital of Victoria. Routinely ranked among the most livable cities in the world, Melbourne is a truly first-rate metropolitan location. The raucous atmosphere at the Rolex Australian Grand Prix in the beautiful, coastal city thrills F1 fans year after year.
8 Hungaroring - Mogyoród, Hungary
Event Hosted: Formula 1 Pirelli Magyar Nagdyj
The circuit: Opened in 1986, the Hungaroring in Mogyorod, Hungary is a winding, slow track with a few elevation changes. One of the last old-school tracks on the F1 schedule, the Hungaroring has suggestions of the Circuit de Monaco. It was the backdrop for the historic showdown between Ayrton Senna and Thierry Boutsen in 1990, where the latter beat Senna by 0.3 seconds.
The location: Ten miles outside of Budapest, the Hungaroring is a stone’s throw from the cultural, commercial, industrial, and political center of Hungary. Settled prior to 1 AD, Budapest is a global historical treasure that sits like a jewel in the Carpathian basin; it’s one of the most scenic cities in Europe. Budapest’s architecture ranges from the Roman to the modern, and the city is a world capital of the arts with a rich 2,000-year history.
7 Sepang International Circuit - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Event Hosted: Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix
The circuit: Opened in 1999, Sepang International Circuit was designed by the renowned Herman Tilke. The course is a favorite among drivers due to its width (and opportunities to overtake) and the unique Malaysian environment. The country’s prime minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad spared no expense in the creation of a top-notch track.
The location: Just outside the most populous city in Malaysia, Sepang International is a premier F1 venue. Kuala Lumpur is a major cultural, economic, and financial center. The city also features the tallest twin buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers. Kuala Lumpur is the sixth-most visited city in the world and is a center of incredible examples of postmodern architecture.
6 Hockenheimring – Hockenheim, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
Event hosted: Formula 1 Grosser Pries Von Österrich
The circuit: Hockenheimring was originally built as a test track for Mercedes-Benz prior to World War II. Through several configurations, the course has endured as an F1 venue, but not without several high-profile crashes. Several stretches were modified in 2002, particularly those running through forested areas. The course is almost entirely flat.
The location: Located on the Baden Asparagus Route due to its prodigious production of the crop, Hockenheimring is situated in the town of Hockenheim. The region is in the Rhine valley and is situated near the Danube and Neckar rivers. The town is believed to have been settled some time during the first century AD.
5 Silverstone - Northamptonshire/Buckinghamshire, England
Event hosted: Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix
The circuit: the Royal Automobile Club turned the outer taxiways and interconnecting runways of Silverstone, a former bomber station, into the home for the British Grand Prix in 1948. Silverstone was the home to the first Formula 1 race of all time in 1950 and it occupies a special place in the hearts of Brits.
The location: Situated on the border of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, Silverstone is the premier British F1 track. The English country is an essential flavor in any F1 circuit list, and Silverstone provides the quantity in spades.
4 Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps - Stavelot, Belgium
Event hosted: Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix
The circuit: The handsome circuit that runs through the Belgian countryside has been reworked over the years. It has managed to retain its singular majesty and beautiful corners, however.
The location: Situated in the idyllic Belgian countryside, the circuit is located in the town of Stavelot. The country town developed around the former Abbey of Stavelot and is incredibly scenic.
Further, according to Wikipedia “Stavelot also has a traditional carnival, the Laetare des Blancs-Moussis. On Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, some 200 local men clad in white and masked with long red noses — the Blancs-Moussis — parade through town throwing confetti and beating bystanders with dried pig bladders.”
What could be more beautiful than that?
3 Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve - Montreal, Canada
Event hosted: Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada
The circuit: The only venue to host a Canadian Grand Prix since its inception in 1978, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is one of the most straightforward circuits in F1. Its dearly beloved by Canadians and F1 fans alike and has a reputation for hosting great races.
The location: Formula 1 Montreal, Canada. What more do we need to say? The circuit is situated on a man-made island in the St. Lawrence River. The second-largest primarily French speaking city in the world, Montreal is an architecture lovers dream as the city features 50 National Historic Sites, more than any city in the world.
2 Autodromo di Monza - Monza, Italy
Event hosted: Formula 1 Gran Premio D’Italia
The circuit: Curva Grane, the Lesmos, Parabolica. No other course has so many turns fans know by name. Since 1922, they’ve been running races at Monza. Drivers can reach speeds in excess of 210 mph in the present era at Monza as they have their feet to the pedals, scorching the asphalt for most the lap.
The location: Just north of Milan, the Autodromo di Monza is situated near one of the most picturesque and historic cities in the world. The commercial and banking center of the middle ages, Milan is truly one of the world’s great cities and is regarded as a capital of fashion and design today.
1 Circuit de Monaco-Monte Carlo, Monaco
Event hosted: Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco
The circuit: A street circuit that meanders through Monte Carlo, Monaco, the Circuit de Monaco is the last of its kind. Competitions have been held at the course since 1929 when William Grover-Williams won the inaugural contest behind the wheel of a Bugatti.
The location: The second-smallest country in the world, Monaco in general (and Monte Carlo in particular) is a beautiful seaside location in the French Riviera. The circuit is mere feet from the Riviera and there isn’t a more scenic overlook than the harbor views that greet racers and fans.