When’s the last time a new circuit popped up on the Formula One calendar laden with cool corner names like Spa-Francorchamps’ Eau Rouge or Monza’s Parabolica? You’d probably have to scrape the very recesses of your brain to try to think of one—and you’d still come up blank. And I’ve gotta say—I can’t be happier.
This is something that’s been playing in the back of my mind recently. I’ve been writing a novel about the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and I have to be honest—there’s something kind of romantic about describing cars going into Maison Blanche as opposed to, y’know, plain ol’ turn four or turn six or whatever. It has a nice poetic lilt to it.
And, almost as if he can read my mind, Chain Bear on YouTube posted a video where he defends the convention of naming track corners.
It’s a good argument, honestly. He notes that, despite having watched F1 for years, he still struggles to instinctively identify a Turn 7 from a Turn 9. He can recognise them as the car is going through that turn, but being able to mentally picture it? Not so easy. Ask him to identify La Source, however, and it’s a different story. That’s easy peasy.
For many tracks, a corner getting a name makes sense. There is the Casino Square section at Monaco that, yes, goes right by the casino.
But despite the fact that there’s something narratively nice about having a corner name instead of just a number, I still think that naming corners is really freakin’ stupid.
I have the opposite problem as Chain Bear. For some reason, I’m better at identifying corner numbers than names. I dread Silverstone every year for this exact reason. Stowe, Vale, Club, Woodcote—what the hell is all that and why is it there? Why can’t you just call it a number? I literally do not give one single solitary fuck about the history of the names. It’s genuinely absurd.
How am I supposed to intuitively order track corners if they have a bunch of random-arse names instead of a growing set of numbers? It’s like naming the first corner of a track “Turn 12″ and the next one “Turn 89″ just to fuck with people.
And to make things worse, naming corners really blows for fans who are new to the sport. Imagine tuning into your first race ever, and you’re tryna figure out why the hell F1 cars are cruising through Maggots. Is this Fear Factor? What the hell did I just sign up for?
OK, so maybe it’s not that dramatic. But it still is stupid. Give me a track map with nothing labelled but the starting line and the direction of the cars, and anyone can find you Turn 6. Give ‘em the same map and ask me to find Ste. Devote, and it’s going to be a different story.
I’ll be real with y’all—the influx of Tilkedromes have been good for one thing and one thing only: no corner names. Thank you, Hermann Tilke, for teaching us that we don’t need some cutesy label for literally everything. Turn 1 will do just fine, thank you.