What if Formula 1 raced in Newcastle?
Lewis Hamilton and the rest would be tearing down Osbourne Road
The new season of Formula 1 is well underway, and whether you’ve been a long term follower or a Drive to Survive convert, we’ve all wondered about what it would be like to have cars racing on our doorsteps. With dissertations looming and deadlines approaching, there’s no time like now to procrastinate and wonder just how feasible it would really be for F1 to head north to Newcastle. So I hit Google Maps and attempted to find the perfect F1 track that could happen in the streets of Newcastle.
We all know F1 is full of tight rules and regulations that are strictly policed (unless Max Verstappen’s losing of course), so the rule book can’t be completely thrown out. Every F1 track is going to need a pit lane, a couple of DRS zones and a circuit length between 7km and 4km long (all circuits bar the glorified parade-that-is Monaco sit in this bracket). Consideration has also been taken to slightly more technical issues like change in incline, tightness of corners, and the slight issue of if the council would really be happy with a track that risked Nicholas Latifi crashing into one of the RVI walls or something similar. So without further ado, here’s the results of my intensive investigation.
Overall best race: ‘Newcastle City Circuit’
It’s Monza meets Monaco on this first track, which at 4.13 miles is approximately the length of the new Jeddah Street Circuit. We start on the Central Motorway with a wide, double-apex turn onto Ponteland Road, a DRS zone absolutely sends it towards St James’ Park before we enter some of the tight twisty streets of Newcastle. Heading past the top of Chinatown towards Eldon Square, there’s a tight right-hander at Monument which then takes us down Grey Street. After a sharp left hand turn onto the end of Mosely Street we’re back on the Central Motorway in no time, where the sweeping, uphill final turn can probably be taken at full throttle before the DRS swings wide open for the start/finish straight.
This track would have it all. The sections of motorway would allow the cars to hit some high speeds while the inner-city section would be technical and need nimble steering. This combination would open a range of strategy choices, with teams required to balance the speedier sections with the need for high downforce particularly in the second half of the circuit. Of course by going past Monument and St James’ Park you’d enjoy sights of some of the city’s most famous landmarks which the cameras would love. Most advantageously, the track passes offices for BBC and Sky making it extra easy for all our favourite pundits to set up shop in their broadcasters’ pre-existing offices.
The safe option: ‘The Town Moor Loop’
It’s a circle round a field. Hardly the pinnacle of creativity I’m well aware. But hear me out. We kick things off on the long DRS-fuelled straight of Great North Road before a tighter-than-it-looks left hander past the blue house roundabout. Another supermassive DRS zone awaits as we bomb down that top curved line of Grandstand Road. Before this time tackling a wider-than-it-looks left hander back onto Ponteland Road for, you guessed it, another DRS zone. But before you hit St James’ Park we’re faced with a slight slalom in the style of Silverstone’s own Maggots and Beckets turns. Rather than heading straight to monument we hang another left and zip past Haymarket and Newcastle Uni after which the combination of a slight turn plus the dip in the road might create just enough downforce to allow a slingshot round the outside of a close-by car to take a position on the start/finish line.
Yes, it’s flat and it’s simple, but it’s also fast. For reference, this track measures in at 4.19 miles long, (making it a similar length to Spa, infamously the longest track currently on the F1 calendar) so those long straights combined with varyingly difficult corners mean that late braking is everything. Fortune will well and truly favour the bold on this track, this is one for the Verstappen fans – he would absolutely dominate here.
The pipe dream: ‘The Quayside Rally’
My aim here was simple: create the most landmark-packed visually-stunning circuit around the Toon possible. So here goes… For a circuit that’s all about Newcastle we actually start in Gateshead on Askew Road (don’t @ me, it was the only place you could feasibly fit a pit lane). We then turn right and enjoy our first DRS zone over the river literally on the Redheugh Bridge – I mean imagine the drone footage. A quick snap to the right and you’re straight onto another DRS zone on St James’ Boulevard as we once again fly past St James’ Park. You’ll recognise this bit: past Eldon Square, right at Monument, down Grey Street, but this is the really mad bit: we don’t turn, but keep heading down Dean Street, through the old town and all the way down to the Quayside. We take a left under the Tyne Bridge and enjoy a small straight along the Quayside, and after a slight hairpin, we head back up towards the Tyne Bridge. Of course there’s a Tyne Bridge DRS zone because I’m insatiable, and in no time at all we’ll make the final right hand turn on Gateshead soil before hitting the start/finish straight once more.
Crazy I know, but I will defend the physics of it (which as a media student I’m obviously qualified to do). The biggest challenge here is of course the descent to the Quayside and climb back towards the Tyne Bridge, but the downhill wouldn’t be too harsh on the brakes as the twists in the road mean drivers will naturally have to tiptoe round the old town anyway, as for the incline back towards the Tyne Bridge, it’s no steeper than inclines seen in Monaco and the US (the latter of which is closest to this track in length, at approximately 3.57 miles). Granted, the track is beyond overindulgent and probably too technical to have plenty of overtaking opportunities, but that’s why I whacked three DRS zones in there. Still reckon it’ll be better than some tracks on the calendar at the moment.
What you really came to see: ‘The Osborne Road Ring’
Of course Osborne Road had to appear somewhere in this list, and so here it is. We’ll start with a good helping of DRS from our old friend Great North Road and bear right, briefly onto Jesmond Dene Road before a hairpin to take us onto Osborne Road. Yes, we will indeed drive the whole way down Osborne Road, with our second DRS zone helping us zoom past Spy Bar and Blanc. This track really is an ode to student culture, so it’s only fitting we then head right and past what can only be called the Northumbria chicane, before another right hair pin to fly past Newcastle uni (realistically they’ll probably call it Armstrong hairpin, right?) and before you know it you’re back on Great North Road and crowned champion of Osborne Road (a title perhaps a little more deserved than when my mate was given it after a hell of a night out).
While it might look short, the track still comes in at 3.57 miles, roughly the same length as the temple of speed, Monza. Sadly, though the DRS zones provide some opportunity for overtakes, I can’t say this track would be the most exciting race on the calendar. Of course a couple of the local Karens would probably ring up the race director with a noise complaint, or complain about the “yob culture” of all those noisy young’uns tearing down their residential area. However if there’s one thing Newcastle – and more specifically Jesmond – can be relied on, it’s that it’ll give the drivers and teams a banging night out after the race. And whether you’re a Lewis fan, or have a lesser taste in drivers, everyone can enjoy a post-race treb at Blanc before hitting town and getting Christian Horner up on the balcony in Flares.