Donington Park Corners: the Scariest in the UK?

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

Let me Shunt you at Donington Park

Let me shunt you” by Chris Hoare is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Donington hosts some of the most prestigious motorsport events in the UK and is one of the most popular circuits for trackdays. It also has one of the most ballsy corners in the country – Craner Curves. In this guide we will look at all of the Donington Park corners in detail and why Craner Curves is so scary to drive.

Contents

Donington Park circuits

There are two different layouts at Donington Park – the National and Grand Prix circuits. See our article on Donington Park circuit length for more info, and also check out the fastest Donington lap times to get an idea of what sort of lap time you should be aiming for.

If you are heading to Donington as a spectator, driver or team member, make sure you check out our complete guide to Donington Park circuit before you go.

Donington Park corners

Donington Park National

Donington National circuit layout map

Donington Park National circuit has 9 corners which are are follows: 

  1. Redgate
  2. Hollywood
  3. Craner Curves
  4. Old Hairpin
  5. Starkey’s Bridge
  6. Schwantz Curve
  7. McLean’s
  8. Coppice
  9. Roberts

Donington Park Grand Prix

Donington grand prix layout map

Donington Park Grand Prix circuit has 11 corners which are as follows:

  1.  Redgate
  2. Hollywood
  3. Craner Curves
  4. Old Hairpin
  5. Starkey’s Bridge
  6. Schwantz Curve
  7. McLean’s
  8. Coppice
  9. Fogarty Esses
  10. Mebourne Hairpin
  11. Goddards

Donington Park corners & descriptions

All in-car screenshots below are taken from the Camber and Combustion YouTube channel.

If you are attending an event at Donington Park and want to know where to spectate from, check out our article on the best viewing locations at Donington.

1 - Redgate

Redgate corner at Donington Park
Clio 172 on the Redgate run off kerb at Donington park

Redgate is the first corner at Donington Park and is slightly deceptive. At first impressions it looks like a pretty standard 90 degree right hander, but as the image above shows it is actually tighter than 90 degrees. Braking for this corner is done right alongside the pit exit so always be mindful of cars leaving pitlane and joining the track in front of you. There is a big gravel trap run off area on the outside of the corner so even if you outbrake yourself you would do well to end up in the tyre barriers.

Driving tip: Don’t turn in too early, the apex is later than you think. Otherwise you’ll run wide on the exit, as the Clio and following car have done in the image above.

2 - Hollywood

Hollywood corner donington park
Clio 172 goes around Hollywood corner at Donington

Hollywood corner is almost a continuation of Redgate. Its less of a corner and more of a right hand kink between Redgate and the following Craner Curves. But it still needs to be treated with respect as it constantly tightens and start to drop downhill. In the rain especially It can be treacherous in a powerful RWD car or if you lift-off mid corner in a FWD car.

Driving tip: Make sure you end up on the right hand side of the track at the end of Hollywood to give you the best entry line to the follow left hander of Craner.

3 - Craner Curves

Craner Curves at Donington Park
Renault clio 172 goes around Craner Curves

The infamous Craner Curves, where many a racer or Donington trackday driver have soiled themselves.

Where Hollywood ends and Craner Cruves begins is up for debate, but regardless this steep downhill section of corners – finishing the right hander of Hollywood and immediately turning left in to Craner Curves – is daunting at the best of times. No picture, game or YouTube video will quite do justice to the steepness of the downhill and the severity of the weight transfer your car will experience from the right to the left handers.

In my Clio 172 track car Craner Curves is flat out in 5th gear, apexing the left hander at around 110mph, but that takes real commitment. And god forbid you decide to chicken out half way round the corner and lift off the throttle – then you’re in a world of oversteering bother.

The direction change at those kinds of speeds is what catches most people out. Not being smooth on with steering or pedal inputs at 100mph or so it an easy way to upset the balance of your car, just as this Clio race car driver found out.

In the rain Craner gets even more daunting when the limits of grip are lower. It calls for even smoother inputs to avoid unsettling the car. And when it really pours, sometimes a river runs across the circuit between the right and left handers. Hit this as speed and there’s a risk of aquaplaning.

There is a lot of grassy run-off either side of the track here, but such as the speed that if you end up on it don’t expect to slow down any time soon, especially if the grass is wet.

If you take Craner Curves fast then you’ll probably end up on the right hand side of the circuit at the corner exit. Not where you want to be for the entry to the next corner.

Driving tip – Build yourself up gradually here and be smooth. As your speed increases you will need to be more gutsy, but if you get it right it’s not only one of the most scariest but also one of the most rewarding corners in the country.

4 - the Old Hairpin

Old Hairpin at Donington Park
Clio 172 oversteers at the Old Hairpin at Donington park
Clio 172 runs wide on the exit of the Old Hairpin at Donington Park

The Old Hairpin is a really lovely corner. Not only one of the best Donington Park corners, but also one of the best in the country. But it relies upon you positioning your car in the right place at the exit of Craner Curves to get a good entry. That means being as far over to the left hand side of the circuit as possible before you turn in to the right-hander.

The apex kerb of the Old Hairpin is in a slight dip. As the corner opens up after the apex you can always carry a bit more speed than you think. There’s a large kerb on the outside of the track at the exit, usually with some green painted concrete past that to use, but it can still be pretty easy to get your entry line wrong, carry too much speed and run wide on the exit.

Driving tip – This corner relies on positioning your car correctly on the entry, so focus on a good exit from Craner Curves to get the Old Hairpin right.

5 - Starkey's Bridge

Starkey's bridge at Donington

There used to be an advertising gantry going across the whole circuit here (image above), but it was removed around 2010.  It’s the same one Mansell crashed in to in spectacular fashion in his BTCC cameo in 1993.  Now just a part of the original historic bridge is left behind the armco, with Starkey’s car park just behind this.

This is a fast left kink more than a corner. It’s flat out in any car, assuming you get back over to the middle of the track after exiting the Old Hairpin to give yourself and easier line to enter this corner.

Driving tip – Use all of the apex kerb on the left hand side of the track, it helps straighten this corner out a lot.

6 - Schwantz Curve

Schwantz curve at Donington park
Schwantz curve following a Clio 172

Schwantz looks like a fairly innocuous left hander, but there’s actually a lot going on here. You have this fast left hand corner but you then have to brake hard, change down and position your car in the right place on the track for the following right hander.

Driving tip – once you’ve hit the apex kerb on the left, brake and change down in a straight line as you prepare to enter the next corner. Don’t brake around the left hander as that can take weight off the rear tyres and unsettle the car whilst cornering.

7 - McLeans

McLeans Corner at Donington Park
A Clio 172 takes McLeans corner at Donington Park

As mentioned above, there’s a lot to do on the way in to Mclean’s to get this one right. It’s a pretty standard 90 degree right hand corner, but the apex kerb is on a bit of an off-camber bump which can push the car slightly wider than normal.

There’s a big exit kerb which needs to be used, but it’s pretty easy to carry too much speed and run wide here, so again the apex is a little later than you think.

The infield campsite at Donington has a great view of this corner.

Driving tip – Use all of the painted green exit kerb to get maximum corner speed.

8 - Coppice

Coppice corner at Donington Park
Coppice corner in a Clio 172 at Donington
Coppice corner in a Clio 172 at Donington
Coppice corner in a Clio 172 at Donington

Coppice is one of the hardest Donington Park corners to get right. To start with, the first apex kerb is up over a blind crest. If you wait until you can see the apex kerb to turn in, it’s too late. You have to turn in before you can see the apex which takes some practice.

Secondly, it seems to go on for ever. And it deceptively tightens up slight as your speed is building. It’s kind of a double apex – you will see two apex curbs on the right hand side of the circuit. If you hit the first one then run out wide to the left hand side of the track, you will probably have to lift off slightly to avoid running out of track. So make sure you take as much of the first apex kerb as possible to help straighten the corner out.

Driving tip – focus on trying to hit both apexes to maximise the speed you can carry down the following straight.

9 - Roberts chicane (National circuit)

Roberts chicane at Donington park
A Clio 200 takes Roberts chicane at Donington Park

Roberts is the right-left chicane at the end of the National circuit. The hardest bit about this corner is getting your braking point right as it is slightly downhill. There’s a lot of run-off now, so if you leave the braking a bit late you’ll probably be ok. The sausage kerbs have been removed so you can take a lot of the kerbs on either side of the chicane to maximise your speed through it.

Driving tip – try and maximise your exit speed for the run down the following main straight.

9 - Fogarty Esses (GP circuit)

Fogarty esses at Donington park
A Peugeot 306 GTi takes the Fogarty Esses at Donington

Named after the legend Calr Fogarty himself, this left-right chicane is kind of a mirror image of Roberts chicane. There’s little rumble strips on the green kerbing here designed to dissuade you from taking too much kerb, but in a car they’re fine to run over to carry a bit more speed.

Driving tip – Use as much kerb as possible to carry maximum speed through here.

10 - Melbourne Hairpin (GP circuit)

Melbourne hairpin at Donington Park
A Peugeot 306 GTi6 takes Melbourne hairpin at Donington

This is the slowest Donington Park corner on either circuit configuration. A pretty standard, very slow 180 degree hairpin. You carry a lot of speed in to it thanks to the fast Fogerty Esses beforehand. There’s nothing special to do here, just hug the apex kerb all the way round.

This is the very spot Senna passed Alain Prost during his Lap of the Gods during the rain soaked 1993 European GP.

Driving tip – think about throttle modulation on the way out of this corner to avoid wheelspin or oversteer.

11 - Goddards (GP circuit)

Goddards corner at Donington park
Goddard corner at Donington in a Clio 172

Goddards is the last of the Donington Park corners. It is another harpin but it is slightly deceptive. The track on the way in to the corner is much wider than on the way out. It can feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere when turning it, but you almost have to turn back on yourself. Plus the apex kerb kind of sticks out a bit right in the middle of the hairpin. You can see this on the satellite image above. Your apex needs to be past this point.

Driving tip: turn in later than you think, the slightly odd shape of the corner means its easy to apex too early.

Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport travel guides based on my experience as racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who are planning on watching some racing themselves.

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