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The world’s scariest circuit

2 years ago

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Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder


16 November 2022

Your starter for 10. From the British coast, which is the closest circuit in Europe to have held a World Championship Formula 1 race? Yes, that’s right, it’s Nivelles, a short, flat, dull track that hosted two rounds of the Belgian Grand Prix in the early 1970s.

So let me rephrase the question: which is the closest decent circuit in Europe to have held a World Championship Formula 1 race? Well it’s not Spa, nor is it even Reims, whose infrastructure lies rotting to this day out there in the Marne. It’s the circuit at Les Essarts, on the outskirts of Rouen, and if you’ve ever driven to Le Mans, the chances are you’ve driven within a few yards of it.

So what? Let’s ask another. What’s the most terrifying circuit ever to host a World Championship Formula 1 Grand Prix? Well, it’s a more subjective measure for sure, but I’ve spoken to those who rule out all the usual suspects – the Nürburgrings, Monzas and Spas in their original forms – and nominate another in their place. It’s Rouen again. Indeed, and while I have no empirical evidence to support this, I suspect that those who’d not namecheck Rouen as the scariest place ever to host such a race are those who never raced there.

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