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Hanoi - What could have been?

Written by Reece Stannard, Edited by Ishani Aziz

A question that has lingered in F1 fans' minds in recent times - what happened to F1 in Vietnam's capital; Hanoi?

The inaugural race weekend would have been held from the 23rd to the 25th of April 2020. It would have been the third race on the calendar,adding to the six street circuits and four Asian races to the 2020 racing calendar. The 5.613 km, 55-lap circuit would have covered a 308.715 km race distance.

Unfortunately the promising Hanoi circuit was omitted when the pandemic forced F1 to scrap together an entirely new race calendar. With limited time and resources, the calendar now has 17 races, with Hanoi sadly not included in the final product. So what would the Hanoi street circuit have been?

The Hanoi circuit had an interesting design, with three DRS zones (Drag Reduction System) and 23 corners. The start/finish straight measured 675 metres, providing the perfect place for a driver to catch up to the car in front of them. The second straight is longer at 800 metres, while the main straight is 1.5km. These would have been the main overtaking areas, with the first straight providing the opportunity to outdrag the opponents car, or make a risky move down the inside which could end spectacularly, or instead in a broken front wing. The fast and winding third sector would have provided a good challenge for the drivers. In contrast, the slow spoon corner would nicely set you up for an overtake on the 1.5 km straight as the DRS zone can be activated about halfway through the straight. Just after the car hits about 200 MPH (322 KPH) there is a tight hairpin which, if overshot, would cause you to go down the runoff road, turning your car around with a high risk of burning your tires out! Next, there is a small strip of track that leads to an incredibly tight and fast section with eight corners to navigate, and the pit lane in the middle. The pit lane would have proved difficult, with drivers struggling to get across the white line, which is quite far off of the racing line. Finally, the circuit has a tight section with two corners where cars would slow down before putting the pedal to the metal and going in for another lap.

Although the track did make an appearance on the official F1 2020 game, this is the closest we will get to seeing how the cars would have performed in Hanoi.The circuit did exist virtually, through the 2020 F1 esports championship (in which it was the second event of the calendar), resulting in a 19-lap race, and David Tonizza its victor. Nevertheless, Hanoi is a street circuit, and since these are notoriously harder to organise this was presumably why the Vietnam Grand Prix has not been mentioned since its proposal in 2020.


The Hanoi grand prix will most likely remain in F1 fans' minds for a long time to come, and we may find out what happened to the plans for F1 in Vietnam at some point!


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