How long is Donington Park track?

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

Donington park circuit
Donington Park is a very popular circuit for trackdays and race events, hosting series such as the British Superbike and British Touring Car Championship. It has even hosted Formula 1 in the past. But how long is Donington Park track? And what different circuit layouts are there? Read on to find out.

Contents

F1 at Donington Park

Whilst we all think of Silverstone as being the home of Formula 1 in the UK, there was a time where that wasn’t the only British circuit to host a round of the championship. In 1993, for one year only, Donington held the ‘European Grand Prix’. With Silverstone still being on the calendar later in the year hosting the British Grand Prix, this was one of the few times that two separate F1 rounds had been held on different British tracks within the same season.

On a soaking wet Easter weekend in April 1993, qualifying saw Alain Prost on pole, followed by Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna starting in 4th for the Donington Grand Prix.

Ayrton Senna at Donington in the McLaren

Ayrton Senna” by Martin Lee is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

When the race started Senna was blocked and fell down to 5th at the first turn. But what followed was one of his most incredible pieces of driving. By the end of the first lap he’d passed the four cars in front of him, in soaking conditions, to lead the race. This was his ’lap of the gods’.

From there he never looked back, winning the race by over a minute from Damon hill and lapping everyone else. 

I did an in-depth analysis of how he managed to overtake 4 of the world’s best drivers in one lap in another article.

Despite the race having tens of thousands of spectators pour in through the main entrance, and being the biggest Donington Park event ever hosted, the 1993 European Grand Prix was a financial disaster for the ciruit, reportedly losing the owners nearly £4m, so it didn’t return the following year or any year after that.

In the early 2000s, as talks between F1 and Silverstone were breaking down for holding the British GP, Donington was awarded a 17-year deal to host the F1. This was on the condition that it would complete a +£100m redesign to the track (see image below) and its facilities, required to satisfy Mr Ecclestone. But the funding to cover the cost of construction works wasn’t there, the circuit faced bankruptcy and the construction halted. Bernie then whipped the contract for the British GP out from Donington’s nose and gave it back to Silverstone.

What are the different Donington Park circuit configurations?

There are two different circuit layouts that are used at Donington Park:

  • Donington Park National
  • Donington Park Grand Prix
Donington National circuit layout map
Donington grand prix layout map

Donington Park National circuit is the smaller of the two track layouts, as it does not include the additional ‘Melboure loop’ section. The Melboure Loop is included in the Grand Prix Layout only, and consists of two extra straights joined by a 180 degree hairpin.

Melbourne Loop at Donington

Unsurprisingly, it is the Grand Prix circuit that was used to host the 1993 F1 at Donington. The additional track length of the Melbourne loop was more suitable to the speed and performance of the F1 cars, plus the hairpin allowed an additional overtaking opportunity for more exciting racing.

Donington Park National is my personal favourite of the two circuits to drive when doing a trackday at Donington, as it has a very fast and flowing feel to it. The very slow additional hairpin of the Grand Prix circuit can feel like it breaks the flowing nature of the circuit and, for me, doesn’t add anything worthwhile.

The circuit is big enough to host an entire campsite within it, available to the public only on specific race weekends throughout the season.

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.

how long is Donington Park track

  • Donington Park National circuit is 1.96 miles / 3.15 km long.
  • Donington Park Grand Prix circuit is 2.5 miles / 4km long.

corners

Donington Park National has 9 corners, if both the right and left-handers of Craner Curves are counted as 2 separate turns.

Donington Park Grand Prix circuit has 11 corners, with two dditional hairpins being included in the longer Melboure Loop track.

Check out our in-depth guide to Donington’s corners and how to drive them.

The most infamous corner on the circuit is Craner Curves. This steep downhill section, with a right and left-hander within it, is a test of nerve for any driver in any car. Especially in the rain. For me this is one of the best corners in the UK. It’s super fast, super ballsy and hard to get right. I love it.

Check out our article on Donington Park parking locations to see how and where to park to see different corners on the track.

what is a good lap time at Donington?

On the National circuit, a well driven Porsche 991 GT3 RS can do a lap around the 1 minute 15 second mark. In my Renaultsport Clio 172 track day car, I can do somewhere around 1 minute 25 on a set of semi-slicks.

A 1 minute 15 second lap on the National circuit gives and average lap speed of around 108mph.

The Grand Prix circuit is around 0.5 miles longer, but the hairpin is the slowest corner on the track and adds a good chunk of additional time.

Another very well driven GT3 RS can do lap the Grand Prix track in 1 minute 34, so the Melbourne Loop adds around 20 seconds for a car of that performance level. In the Clio the Grand Prix track is around 1 minute 50, so about 25 seconds more.

A 1 minute 34 second lap on the Grand Prix circuit gives an average lap speed of around 96mph, showing that the longer circuit is on the whole slower than the National track.

See our article on best ever Donington Park lap times for more examples of quick laps in both race and road cars.

how long is the straight?

Donington actually has two good length straights; Wheatcroft Straight (the start / finish straight) and Starkey’s Straight (the back straight). As the picture below shows, Wheatcroft Straight is different lengths depending on which circuit configuration is in use.

Wheatcroft straight at Donington Park

If on the (blue) National circuit, you get the full length of the straight which is 0.35 miles / 0.57km.

If using the (yellow) Grand Prix circuit, Wheatcroft Straight is only 0.31 miles / 0.5km.

Both configurations, however, use the Starkey Straight. The only difference is that at the end of it Goddards chicane goes in opposite directions depending on the circuit configuration in use. Blue goes to the National circuit (known as Roberts corner) and Yellow to the Grand Prix circuit (known as Goddards hairpin)

Starkey Straight is 0.34 miles / 0.54 km long, but as Coppice corner leading on to this straight is pretty fast, you can usually reach a slightly higher top speed at the end of Starkey straight compared to Wheatcroft straight.

Goddards chicane

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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