Corners matter. Yes, straight-line speed is important, but ultimately it is how quickly a car and driver can corner that dictates that all-important lap time. But what makes a great corner? It is, of course, a very subjective issue. The new Korea International Circuit threw up a few at the weekend, but it is a little too soon to dub them ‘classics’. For those, most drivers will refer you to the likes of Spa-Francorchamps, Suzuka and Istanbul Park…
Japanese Grand Prix - Suzuka’s 130R
The list had to include at least one corner from Suzuka, the famous figure-of-eight track that many drivers cite as their favourite on the calendar, and narrowing it down to the high-speed 130R proved tough, with the famous Spoon Curve a very close second. Named after the corner’s radius, the 130R is one of the fastest in Formula One racing. Although modifications made in 2003 mean taking it at full throttle is not quite the challenge it once was, jinking left in seventh gear at speeds in excess of 310 km/h remains a supreme test of both car and driver, with a lateral cornering force of up to 6G. 130R’s unforgiving nature is why the drivers love it. Precision is key, even when taken at relatively low speed, as Lucas di Grassi found to his cost recently when he trashed his Virgin there on his out-lap to the grid. “130R is one of the fastest corners in Formula One and you really have to think about how you approach it.” McLaren’s Jenson Button.
Italian Grand Prix - Monza’s Parabolica
Monza may be known as the ‘temple of speed’, but sprinkled amongst its epically long straights are some equally legendary corners - including the majestic Parabolica. It’s the track’s final turn and at 180 degrees, cars can experience apex speeds in excess of 200km/h and lateral acceleration for close to 450 metres. It leads onto Monza’s 1.3-km main straight, so it’s paramount for drivers to make a good exit in order to maximise their top speed before they brake for Turn One, the Rettifilo chicane, which is the best spot on the circuit for overtaking. The challenge of Parabolica is to brake as late as possible but then also get back on the power before the apex. Guaranteed to sort the men from the boys. “Parabolica, is quite special. It's a difficult one to get right. You can always go faster there than you actually do.” 1997 world champion, Jacques Villeneuve.