Hermann Tilke, born Dec. 31, 1954, in Olpe, Germany, is an architect and designer of Formula One motor racing circuits.
Tilke established Tilke Engineering in 1984, combining skills in architecture, civil engineering and electronic engineering to provide complete solutions for motor racing and waste disposal projects.
One of his first, minor tasks was a short access road at the Nürburgring, earned due to contacts made by his racing efforts there. He later redesigned the first turn complex of the circuit in 2002.
Tilke’s first major redevelopment job was the dramatic change from the fast Österreichring to the much shorter A1-Ring in Austria, in 1996 and ready for 1997.
Having made numerous controversial changes to the established stable of F1 circuits, Tilke secured the contracts to design many high-profile new circuits from scratch. These include:
1999 Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
2004 Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain
2004 Shanghai International Circuit, China
2005 Istanbul Racing Circuit, Turkey
2008 Singapore Grand Prix, Singapore
2008 Valencia Street Circuit, Spain
2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, UAE
2009 Cape Town Grand Prix, South Africa
2010 Korean International Circuit, South Korea
2010 Indian Grand Prix, India (Planned F1 Venue)
NOTE: If I have missed any, please inform me.
Tilke was also involved in the massively controversial overhaul of the Hockenheimring in Germany. He also redesigned the Fuji Speedway in Japan for circuit owners Toyota.
The alterations that were carried out to the Hockenheimring have generally not been well-received by many fans of F1, who believe he has castrated a once-great circuit. He removed the ENTIRE section of the track that blasted through the forest at over 215mph.
The blast through the forest is what the track became famous for, and it was even featured on advertising for the Grand Prix of Germany. The main reason for the redevelopment was safety, despite the fact that the track had not seen a death in over 20 years. It was always a difficult track to set up for.
If you had a fast car in a straight line, you were sure to finish well. If you didn’t, you were screwed.
Tilke has already carried out minor work to the Circuit de Catalunya, where he removed the sweeping penultimate corner in favour for a tight, three-turn section that then exits on to the start/finish straight.
Tilke has also made changes to Monza. For the 2000 Italian Grand Prix, Tilke redesigned the first corner complex for a much slower, twisting section. The previous layout had the cars thunder through two left-right sections before making their way down to turn five.
Tilke will be involved in designing a new infield section of Donington Park in time to host the British Grand Prix in 2010.
Tilke's trademark of circuit is a mixture of long straight and tight hairpins, most at the beginning of his tracks, which is supposed to encourage overtaking.
I think every track he has done so far is boring, only turn eight at Turkey is interesting. He killed the Hockenheimring, and will probably be pleading with Simon Gillet to do the same to the Kraner Curves at Donington.
Sepang is just ridiculous, and it presents just two good overtaking opportunities. Bahrain has a similar corner to Malaysia and again presents just two, perhaps three overtaking places.
Shanghai again has four good places, but only if you are on an overdose of brave pills. Off the stupidly long straight you can easily overtake, but the rest involve more bravery than driving skill.
Valencia was an absolute failure in terms of racing action, and there were three overtakes all afternoon. Abu Dhabi is meant to be a street circuit that is ridiculously wide, and has silly run-off areas like Bahrain.
That isn’t a street circuit, is it? Tilke is on a mission to obliterate Formula One, and maybe the new aero rules next year can be the only thing to save the art of overtaking.
The question I ask of you is this, is Hermann Tilke slowly killing Formula One? Are his tracks becoming increasingly boring?
Thanks for reading.