Old-school circuits 'just way cooler' than modern 'oversized parking lots'

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Old-school circuits are "just way cooler" than the "oversized parking lots" at most modern venues.

That is the combined view of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff following Formula 1's recent trips to tracks not previously included in the original 2020 calendar. 

Due to Covid-19, F1 had to drop the usual trips to Far East Asia and the Americas, giving classic circuits like Nurburgring and Imola, as well as new venues at Mugello and Portimao a one-off opportunity to host a Grand Prix.

All four tracks proved popular with the drivers for various reasons, and Wolff believes that vindicates his theory that F1 has gone too far in terms of tarmac run-off areas

“I’ve always been very vocal about that I disagree with the direction we have taken on racing on oversized supermarket parking lots because it takes the factor of the driver, his skill, away,” said the Mercedes chief via MotorsportWeek.

“Therefore I really like racing in Imola, I like racing in Mugello and the tracks where you really analyse if you make a mistake.

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“I think we need to bring gravel back to make sure [when] you fly off that you can’t rejoin without any damage to your car.

“I think you probably can adapt most of the circuits to that kind of standard but these classic and historic race tracks will always have soul and now you can say that from the modern circuits – Bahrain has a soul also because we’ve been in Bahrain a long time and these guys have been partners to F1 for a long time – but maybe we need to adapt the circuits in exactly the way I’ve described.

“Again, I am not a circuit designer, I am just giving you my feedback from an ex-racing driver and based on the TV pictures that I’ve seen from Mugello, Portimao and Imola.”

Kevin Magnussen has never been afraid to admit his desire for a reduced margin for error in F1, even previously suggesting a return to the Nordschleife.

And so it's not surprising to hear the Dane felt very at home at the old-school tracks.

“I would say generally it’s street circuits and old circuits that are the best,” said Magnussen.

“There are a few of the new tracks that are quite cool, but generally they are less exciting because they tend to build them totally flat, with flat kerbs and lots of tarmac run-off area.

“It’s basically like driving on a big parking lot between two white lines, that’s not too exciting.

“So, when you go to tracks like Imola or Suzuka – and F1 will go to Zandvoort as well which is cool, these old tracks are just way cooler.

“Street circuits, of course, are exciting as you’re driving between walls on a street at full speed.”

This weekend comes the last of the new circuits for 2020 and a return to Istanbul Park after nine years for the Turkish GP.

While it has more in common with Portimao in terms of having run-off at most corners, Magnussen is excited to try what is considered as one of Hermann Tilke's finest creations.

“I’m looking forward to going to yet another new track,” he said. “Istanbul is one of the newer circuits that looks pretty interesting.

“There are some big high-speed corners, I expect these cars to be easily flat – full throttle.

“It looks pretty cool from what I’ve seen. I think it’s good to watch as much as you can in terms of onboard videos, previous races, just to kind of get an idea about lines and what kerbs to use and bumps to avoid.”