Europe’s first grand prix of 2014 isn’t until Spain,on the 11th of May. So if you want to experience some Formula One excitement in the flesh before then, why not make your own spring tour – of the circuits across our continent staging this year’s races? Each presents a unique spectacle and place in the sport’s history.
- Hockenheimring. In 1970, the German Grand Prix moved here when the Nürburgring – where today many of the world’s best sports cars are tested – was declared too dangerous and now holds the race every two years.
- Red Bull Ring. This year, Austria’s traditional F1 home – formerly the ‘Österreichring’ – runs the country’s first grand prix since 2003. Set deep in the Styrian Mountains, with nearby Spielberg a spectacular base for climbing, para-gliding or skiing holidays.
- Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Here, in 2006, Fernando Alonso became the first Spaniard to win his home grand prix. Tour areas like the briefing room, paddock and race control,or drive the course in your own car on a track day.
- Autodromo Nazionale Monza. In once-royal woodland outside Milan, ‘The Temple of Speed’ has staged more F1 races than any other track. As you explore, don’t miss the precipitous banking adjacent – a slowly decaying, evocative relic of 1922’s original circuit.
Monaco, Belgium, Britain
- Circuit de Monaco. Nelson Piquet compared racing on Monte Carlo’s iconic street track to ‘riding a bicycle around your living room’. Among the tests waiting for you is the Fairmont Hotel hairpin, F1’s tightest corner.
- Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Set in the Ardenne’s rolling hills and forests, and running its 70th Belgian Grand Prix in 2014. Do the tour to explore the circuit’s inner workings, or take to the track – including the legendary Eau Rouge/Radillon curve combination – in your own car.
- Silverstone. Ex-airfield and site of the first ever F1 World Championship race in 1950. Long sections were once runways for World War II bombers, so how better to see the course than in your own helicopter ride?
- Hungaroring. Built to stage the first Grand Prix, in 1986, behind the old Iron Curtain. Set in a valley so every fan sees about 80% of the track; but tight, twisting and dusty – former F1-ace Martin Brundle dubbed it ‘a street circuit without the houses’.
- Sochi International Street Circuit. Constructed at a cost of $200 million for Russia’s first grand prix in 2014, after aborted attempts to stage races in Moscow and St Petersburg. Today runs around Sochi Olympic Park, scene of 2014’s winter games, and expected to be super fast.