Insight: The honour of naming corners after F1 & MotoGP stars

Following in the footsteps of the likes of Ayrton Senna, Giles Villeneuve, Mick Doohan, Nigel Mansell, Michael Schumacher, Giacomo Agostini and Casey Stoner, Marc Marquez is about to be the latest motorsport hero to receive the honour of having corner named after him.

Marquez is the latest in a long line; famously, the ‘Senna S’ – the first couple of corners at the Interlagos circuit in Brazil – was named after three-time F1 champion Ayrton Senna, whilst a similar thing has been done to turns 9 and 10 at the Nürburgring, this time in recognition of Michael Schumacher, who also had turn one at the Bahrain International Circuit named after him as a tribute following his skiing accident in 2014.

Salut Gilles tribute on the grid of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Some locations are named in tribute, for example Canadian racer Gilles Villeneuve had the entire Montreal circuit named after him following his death in 1982, whilst some corners are named after memorable moments, such as the final corner of the re-profiled Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (itself named after racing brother Pedro and Ricardo Rodríguez), which has been named after 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell in recognition of his brilliant overtake on Gerhard Berger at the Peraltada in 1990.

“When I found out about the turn naming of course I was delighted. Flattered, proud and delighted in equal measure,” said Mansell back in 2015 prior to the return of the Mexican Grand Prix.

Since he his debut in MotoGP back in 2013, Marquez has always performed well at Aragon, with the circuit being one of his favourites of the season. This weekend it hosts the next round of the championship.

He’s succeeded more often than not; he’s won three out of five possible times, also earning four pole positions in the process.

The close relationship between the champion and the circuit has led executives to decide to name one of the turns after Marquez; we now know this will be turn number 10.

In this way, Marquez will become the second active rider with the privilege of having a turn named after him, joining Jorge Lorenzo. The Majorcan has his own namesake in Jerez, as the track decided to put his name on it as, they did with Alex Criville in the last sector.

In motorcycling (as in F1) it’s common to name a turn after a rider who has a relationship with the place itself. For example, no one has been able to overcome turn three at Phillip Island faster than Casey Stoner, who was honored back in 2012, the same year he decided to retire. “It’s something odd because this normally happens when someone retires,” the Southport man said at the time, when he was already two-time World Champion and Honda spearhead of the moment.

One of the most iconic points of the current calendar is the second turn of Cheste, known as the Mick Doohan turn, at which Valentino Rossi crashed in 2006, thereby losing the Championship. It so happens that the Italian, despite being a worldwide icon of this sport, doesn’t want to have his name on any track.

In F1 and the motor racing world, there have also been drivers that made their mark in some places, and those situations meant great opportunities for the promoters to catch the public’s attention.

Ayrton Senna races against the Renault of Derek Warwick on entry to Surtees corner at Brands Hatch.

British racing circuits have a long history of renaming their corners after famous racing personalities. At the Snetterton circuit, corners are named after personalities related to racing on two wheels and four, including Lewis Hamilton, Giacomo Agostini, Sir Frank Williams and Murray Walker. The only world champion on both disciplines, John Surtees, has been allocated a corner at the Brands Hatch GP circuit.

Some corners, however, have more poignant meanings.

The former Formula One circuit Zolder re-profiled and renamed the corner at which Gilles Villeneuve died. The corner became a chicane and is now known as the Villeneuve Chicane in tribute to the Canadian. At the full Nurburgring circuit, ‘Lauda Links’ (Lauda left) is the name given to the corner, just before the Berkwerk corner, where Niki Lauda had his spectacular crash in 1976.

At Monza, the Vialone corner was another piece of circuit to be updated due to the increased demand for improved safety. It was redesigned and renamed the Ascari chicane in 1972, seventeen years after Ferrari’s Alberto Ascari perished in a crash during a private test there.

In the wider motor sport world, the Gerlachbocht corner at the Circuit Zandvoort was named after sportscar racer Wim Gerlach, who died after crashing his Porsche during a race back in 1957.

By: Oriol Puigdemont & Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

How many corners can you think of which are named after personalities in Motorsport? Leave your thoughts in the section below.