There has been motor racing at the Hockenheimring since 1932, but the present track configuration only came into existence 17 years ago. The layout provides plenty of opportunity for overtaking and wheel-to-wheel racing. After a fast, but tight, first corner the drivers set off towards the forest but instead of blasting their way through the trees they turn sharp right where the track opens up into a long, high-speed left-hand curve called Parabolika. Following a rival closely through here creates a great opportunity to make a pass into the hairpin at the Eastern end of the circuit, but if successful you are soon on the defensive as there is another overtaking opportunity two corners later in front of the huge Mercedes Grandstand. The track then rejoins the traditional layout and goes through a tight “stadium” section where packed grandstands on race day create a remarkable atmosphere.
The second of three 2019 W Series venues that have hosted F1 races, Zolder has always been somewhat overshadowed by the majestic Spa-Francorchamps. However, Belgium’s second-best known venue has always been popular with fans and drivers and has a history that stretches back over five decades. Located in a wooded area close to the historic city of Hasselt, Zolder opened in 1965. From its early days it attracted F2 and F3 action, with many of the F1 stars of the day competing in the former. It first hosted the Belgian GP in 1973, when famously the track surface broke up and Jackie Stewart survived to won.
Located close to Rimini, Misano has long been one of Italy’s premier international circuits, without ever aspiring to F1 status – although it has been used for testing. Opened in 1972 and remodelled in 1993 and again in 2006, the track is notable for featuring mainly slow speed corners and a lack of gradients. Misano hosted the FIA European F2 series from 1973 to 1984, with many future F1 stars taking part. Among the big names to win the Adriatic Grand Prix were Hans Stuck, Bruno Giacomelli, Andrea de Cesaris and Michele Alboreto. There was a one-off FIA World Sportscar Championship race in 1978, won by Henri Pescarolo and Bob Wollek, while European F3 events were held in the eighties. Misano joined the DTM calendar in 2018. The venue is perhaps best known internationally for hosting MotoGP events, under a variety of names. In the eighties the Nations GP and San Marino GP identities were used, while Misano twice hosted the Italian GP in 1991 and 1993. After a break the venue returned under the San Marino GP name in 2007, and it has remained on the schedule ever since. In 2012 the track was officially named in honour of local hero and MotoGP star Marco Simoncelli, who sadly lost his life in the previous year’s Malaysian GP.
The Norisring has been an annual highlight of the German motor sport calendar since the first event was held in 1947. The temporary track is laid out on public roads in a southern suburb of the historic city of Nuremburg and features a layout that hasn’t changed in decades. A long bumpy pit straight is followed by heavy braking for a tight hairpin, which leads into a short sprint to a right/left chicane. Another long straight to a second hairpin before the track returns to the start/finish line.
As it name suggests the TT Circuit Assen is closely associated with two-wheeled motorsport, but the Dutch venue has also hosted car racing over the decades, including most famously Champ Car in 2007. The track also has ambitions to host an F1 race in the future, and is currently vying with Zandvoort for the right to revive the Dutch GP. Bike racing was first held on a 28km course laid out over public roads between local villages around Assen in the 1920s. A much shorter road course was constructed in 1955, which was shortened and rebuilt in 2006. The original road course was still in use when the Dutch TT was included in the inaugural two-wheeled World Championship in 1949, and the event has remained at the heart of the schedule ever since. All the big names have raced and won there, with Valentino Rossi logging eight victories in the headline race. The one-off 2007 Champ Car race, won by the late Justin Wilson, was the biggest car event that the circuit has hosted to date. The Super League series, which featured cars similar in performance to Indy machines, ran at Assen in both 2010 and 2011. Many German-based series have visited in recent years, and in 2019 the DTM will hold its Dutch round at the 4.5km track.
The third and final former Grand Prix circuit on the 2019 W Series schedule, Brands Hatch has long been one of the UK’s two major motor sporting venues. Originally a short grass track for bike racing that took advantage of a natural bowl in the Kentish countryside, it was given an asphalt surface and opened for car racing in 1950. The track soon became a popular venue for domestic racing and became known internationally after the Grand Prix loop was added in 1960, creating the basic outline that with modifications is still familiar today. Corners such as Paddock Bend, Druids and Clearways are famous worldwide. The track first played host to the British GP in 1964, and subsequently alternated with Silverstone, taking the even numbered years – although extra races under the European GP name were held in 1983 and 1985. Many classic races were held, and the list of winners includes greats such as Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell. However, after 1986 Bernie Ecclestone opted to focus on Silverstone as the permanent venue for F1 in the UK, and Brands slipped off the calendar. The track regularly held rounds of the World Sportscar Championship between 1967 and 1989, while others to appear include IndyCar/Champ Car (in 1978 and again in 2003), F2, F3000 and A1 GP. The DTM has been a regular visitor since 1986. Brands Hatch has seen both the first victory in an F1 race and the first British F3 win achieved by women drivers – two significant achievements that were separated by 38 years. More women have participated in F1 events at Brands than any other venue. Lella Lombardi, Divina Galica and Desire Wilson all had close associations with the track, largely due to the support of circuit bosses John and Angela Webb, who played a role in promoting their careers.