Monza's Parabolica and the 8 Greatest Corners on the F1 Calendar
Monza's beautiful Parabolica enters a new era this weekend at the Italian Grand Prix.
Stripped of part of its gravel trap, Parabolica is now a "modern" corner, complete with a sterile tarmac run-off area and gleaming strip of astroturf.
Never again will we see those famous plumes of dust being kicked up on the outside.
But though the challenge and risk of Parabolica have been diminished and the penalty for running wide all but removed, the corner itself remains one of the finest on the current calendar.
Here are some of the others.
Two quick notes before the list itself.
It would easy to fill such a list with corners from just three or four circuits, so in the interest of variety only one from each circuit is selected.
Awesome corners like the Degners, Spoon, Copse, Mirabeau, Pouhon, Blanchimont and Casino Square don't make it for this reason.
In addition, corner sequences where one turn leads immediately into another have, for the purpose of this list, been treated as a single corner.
When it comes to corners, Monza puts quality ahead of quantity. The Lesmos, Curva Grande and Ascari complex are all excellent turns.
But the corner which really stands out is the Parabolica, a long right-hander.
The drivers hit 330 kilometres an hour down the back straight before standing on the brakes and turning in to hit the early apex. A brief moment of throttle-feathering later, the right foot goes back to the floor.
The corner opens out gradually towards the exit and the optimal line sees the drivers drift wide as they enter the long pit straight.
It would be a good corner anywhere, but the low-downforce setting on the cars at Monza really adds to the challenge.
Turns 13 and 14, Sepang
This corner doesn't appear to have a proper name, but it really deserves one.
The drivers sweep through the quick left-hander of Turn 12 and into the longer right of Turn 13.
The rightwards sweep continues all the way to the next corner. The braking zone for Turn 14 is curved, meaning the drivers have to steer and brake at the same time as they try to get their noses in to the apex.
It always looks like the hardest corner on the circuit to get exactly right, but a good exit is crucial because it leads out onto the long back straight.
Silverstone's Maggots-Becketts-Chapel complex is perhaps the best corner sequence in the world.
The driver approaches at over 300 kilometres an hour and keeps his foot down through the left-hand kink, before the briefest lift to scrub off a tiny bit of speed takes him through the first of the right-handers.
A tap of the brake is needed for the next corner, a longer left, and also for the next right.
It's then back on the accelerator, over the kerb on the outside and through the final left-hand kink.
Five apexes, eight seconds, one magnificent stretch of race track.
Final Chicane, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Chicanes are rarely things of beauty, but the final chicane at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve bucks the trend.
Approaching at 320 kilometres an hour, the drivers brake hard and fling their cars into this medium-speed right-left flick, exiting onto the pit straight and missing the barrier on the outside by inches.
Attacking the high kerbs is essential for a good lap time, but if they make an error, they could well end up in F1's most famous piece of scenery—the Wall of Champions.
Monaco has many special and unique corners, but the one that stands out for me is Tabac. In qualifying, every driver looks like he's going to hit the wall here, and occasionally someone does.
A tight but relatively quick left-hander, the barrier positions are a large part of what makes this corner special.
The drivers have aim for a very sharp apex, missing the barrier on the inside by a foot or less. The car then drifts wide through the exit, the right-side wheels coming within inches of the barriers on the outside.
Like most of the circuits featured here, Interlagos in Brazil has more than one corner worthy of consideration. The Senna S would certainly have featured were I not limited to one corner per track.
But it lost out here to Mergulho on a coin toss.
The drivers come out of the slow right-hand hairpin of Bico de Pato and accelerate into and all the way through this truly spectacular downhill left.
One of finest elevation changes of the F1 calendar, the corner's challenge is heightened by the bumpy surface of the Interlagos circuit.
There are a lot of corners at Suzuka worthy of consideration. Spoon is very special, the S Curves form a beautiful complex and the Degners also stand out.
But every time I went back to 130R.
Approached at close to top speed, the drivers turn into this daunting left-hander at full throttle, trusting their car to carry them through safely.
It's easier now than it used to be thanks to the incredible downforce levels of modern cars, but one never tires of watching the field stream through here.
130R remains one of the best corners on the calendar.
Eau Rouge-Raidillon, Spa-Francorchamps
Spa was the toughest circuit to deal with. Pouhon has lost some of its beauty in recent years with the addition of fancy run-off but remains a truly awesome corner, and probably the toughest on the circuit.
Blanchimont is very special too, as is the often-underrated Bruxelles (Turn 8).
But challenge or no challenge, easy flat or not, the Eau Rouge-Raidillon complex remains No. 1.
Approaching downhill at more than 300 kilometres an hour, the cars jink left as the track hits the floor of the valley, then sweep right up the steep incline before flicking left over the crest at the top.
All done at full throttle, without the slightest lift (in the dry).
We all have our own favourites—what would your Top Eight be? Comment or tweet:
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