Guest Author - Christine Blachford
When it comes to adding a new track to the calendar, the biggest concerns should be location and layout. Where a track is situated can make all the difference to an event. For example, Monaco wouldn't be anywhere near as interesting if it wasn't set in the glamourous principality. They layout of a track is also important as a variety of fast and slow corners and straights make for a better race.
Unfortunately, it seems that another part of track design is being missed out, and that is naming the corners. Most of the new tracks Formula 1 has been to recently featured Turns 1, 2, etc. Where are the great names?
Turkey is a prime example of this. It's been on the calendar for a few years, and is infamous for the four-apexed corner that always troubles the drivers. This corner is magnificently called... Turn 8.
At the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit has names for their corners. We've got Eau Rouge, Stavelot, and the Kemmel Straight. At Monaco, there's Sainte Devote, Mirabeau and Portier. Silverstone features Maggotts and Becketts, Stowe and Luffield.
There's an argument that learning the names of corners could be harder than following the sequence of numbers, but I don't think that's the case. Giving each corner a name adds a little bit of personality to that corner, and in my opinion, makes it easier to recall. If you're going round a full lap, it's all very well to say you're at Turn 10, but if you're asked to point out a specific part of the track, Turn 10 might not mean anything.
The one problem with naming conventions these days is that they start to become infiltrated with sponsorship and advertising. The Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji will take place around the Dunlop, Panasonic, and Coca-Cola corners. These have nowhere near the right atmosphere that a traditional name should have. What happened to the days when corners were named after local heroes? In Canada there's the Virage Senna, and what about the Schumacher S at Nurburgring.
I certainly hope we can get back to naming corners, even if they do take a little bit longer to learn.