Much has been made of the homogeneity of current grand prix circuits, with wide-open run-off areas reducing the challenge of threading a 200mph projectile along a ribbon of tarmac and layouts seemingly designed to deny overtaking opportunities, but an equal amount of time and ink has been spent on coming up with the perfect combination.
To round-off Lewis Hamilton's world championship-winning season, McLaren 'technology partner' ExxonMobil presented the Briton with one final challenge for 2008 - to design his
The fantasy race track would be a combination of the toughest corners, chicanes and straights from Hamilton's favourite circuits around the world, but also provides a fascinating insight into where adrenaline and performance levels - of man and machine - are at their highest.
Hamilton planned a counter-clockwise circuit to be the definitive challenge of both a driver's skills and a car's technological performance and stamina, and called upon corners from personal favourites Monaco, Interlagos, Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps amongst others to build his very own dream layout.
“I wanted to create a circuit that would be challenging, exhilarating and enjoyable but, most of all, somewhere you would love to have the chance to drive and provide the definitive test for any driver, in any car,” the youngest-ever world champion explained of the ten-turn Mobil1 Supercircuit.
Here, then, is a lap of the fantasy venue, complete with Hamilton's own descriptions of the corners involved....
"Waiting for the red lights to go out, heart rate climbing to 170bpm in anticipation of the start, releasing the clutch lets loose in excess of 750bhp through the rear wheels as we accelerate towards Turn One…"
1. Turn 8, Istanbul Speed Park (5th gear, 260 kph, 5g)
A super-fast corner to begin the lap. Hamilton withstands up to 5g for six seconds through the quadruple-apex left-hander, making it the longest and most physical corner on the grand prix calendar. The prolonged lateral loads place the engine's 300 moving parts under enormous stress and make it staggeringly tough on the neck muscles.
“You have to attack this corner,” Hamilton says, “A bump at the first apex destabilises the car and you have to be very careful with how you position it, otherwise you can have a big oversteer moment.”
2. Estoril, Magny Cours (5th gear, 200 kph, 3.5g)
The neck gets little respite because Estoril, another long and fast corner, comes next. It's a double-apex right-hander, through which the driver has to plant the throttle in fifth gear without being able to see his exit. The track undulates through 180 degrees, resembling a high-speed rollercoaster.