An article by Tim Trant.
Last updated March 15, 1996
Each track has been graded by letter (A+ through E) according to how "interesting" it is. The first letter grade is a "stand-alone" rating, while the second also takes into account peculiar/unique features; Monaco, for instance, is the slowest and most twisty track and should definitely be included if you're considering running a series of races, but it isn't a great track to race on repeatedly.
The "Total Corners" (TC) is just the sum of all the corner ratings, and gives a good idea of how many game turns are required for each lap. The "Bump Percentage" is based on the modified collision rule (check only in corners, and a d20 roll <= the corner rating results in a collision), and is the total of the collision chance percentages times the number of turns spent in the each corner. This is a relative measure only, and not meant to indicate the precise collision chance per lap or anything, but it does give a measure of how "tight" (because of multi-turn corners) each track is compared with others with a similar TC rating. For example, Spain and Canada both have TC ratings of 11, but the BP for Spain is just 2 x 10% (two moves in the single "2" corner) + 9 x 5% (nine "1" corners) = 65%, while for Canada it is 4 x 2 x 10% (four "2" corners, each requiring two moves) + 3 x 5% (three single-move "1" corners) = 95%. Whether a track is "fast" or not, though, is usually limited mostly by the length of the straights and the types of the preceeding corners, and such limitations are included in the track descriptions.
"Doubled straights" means counting each space on a straight (whether moving ahead or changing lanes on a diagonal) as costing 2 movement points instead of the normal 1. If this is done, players may chose to either discard a leftover single movement point or use it to move a final space. This change can greatly improve the feel of those tracks, such as Hockenheim, which are overly compressed in order to fit onto the standard size of mounting board. If you try this, bits of Post-it notes work well for changing the trackside numbers, and also emphasize that those track sections are different.
These are all in full colour, with beautiful scenery details (and also, on most tracks, a silly cartoon flying machine) painted in. The boards for the mounted tracks are 25.5" x 38". (The two sections could also be 19" x 51", but none of the tracks take advantage of this possibility.) Dimensions given are the widest for the track itself, exclusive of scenery.
38" x 24"; 167 spaces long; 10 corners (one "3", two "2"); straights 28, 23, 18; longest straight starts from "3"
Use of 6th gear is rare (possible only in a multi-lap race). Overall slow, both in terms of gears used and time (turns) required to complete a lap, but also entertaining. This is the baseline track, as it included in the original boxed game.
=> B- / B
36" x 21"; 208 spaces; 8 corners (one "3", one "2"); straights 47, 25, 17; longest straight ends in "3" corner
Very long (due to "folded-back" design of the actual course) and varied, with both good long fast straights and slower sections. No silly cartoon.
=> A+ / A
35" x 20"; 129 spaces; 6 corners (two "2"); straights 28, 18, 18, 17; "2" corners break up 18-17 and 28-18 straights; lots of unused space on the board (hard to avoid, given the actual shape of the track); compacted straights
Short and boring, only one move in 6th, for "completists" only. Might improve if the four main straights listed above are doubled, increasing length to 210 spaces, but my group didn't think this improved the feel much, and preferred playing additional laps instead.
=> E (D doubled) / D (D doubled)
36" x 23"; 149 spaces; 7 corners (one long "3", one "2"); straights 26, 19, 17, 11
Suffers greatly from compacted straights, which make using 6th gear all but impossible, but doubling the main straights (which increases the total length to 218) makes a big improvement.
=> D (C doubled) / D (C doubled)
38" x 25"; 182 spaces; 8 corners (four "2"); straights 30, 22, 19; "2" corners at end of the two longest straights
Good mix of fast sections followed by slow corners. Difficult pit exit leaves no room to get to outside of next hairpin curve, so cars sometimes loses several of their just-replaced Tire Points.
=> A / A
38" x 18"; 188 spaces; 8 corners (one "2"); straights 62, 29
Very fast, with very long main (pit) straight, and otherwise mostly 5th gear. Getting into 6th for the back straight (and then making it into the following corner) is critical; other gear selection decisions are straightforward.
=> B / B
37" x 21"; 160 spaces; 5 corners (two "3", one "2"); straights 31, 25, 20, 16
Included in the English-language version of Formule De. Suffers from the same compression problem as Hockenheim (i.e. not quite as bad as Monza). Using 6th gear is barely possible if one of the (long) multi-turn corners can be exited in 5th (at a considerable cost in Tire Points). Longest straight runs from the "2" to one of the "3" corners, which limits possible speeds. Doubling ALL the straights (total length becomes 253 spaces) completely transforms it into a long & nasty track where risks are plentiful and Transmission points are at a premium. Two "3" corners can be hard on Bodywork.
=> C- (B+ doubled) / C- (B+ doubled)
36" x 12"; 174 spaces; 10 corners (one "2"); straights 40, 24; "2" corner is at end of longest straight and preceeds second-longest; lots of scenery-only space on the board but track is well packed and folds back on itself in the area it does occupy.
Similar to Portugal, except with additional straightforward "1" corners instead of the long secondary back straight (advantage Portugal) and with difficult "2" corner at end of main straight (advantage Spain). Use of 6th gear practically guaranteed at least once per lap.
=> B / B
40" x 14" (this oblong track is oriented along the diagonal); 127 spaces; 7 corners (four "2"s, all in a row); straights 18, 15, 14
Use of 6th gear for one move theoretically possible but very improbable. Too compressed and straights too short in comparision with excellent ASPIFD version (see below). Short connecting straights mean that three of the four "2" corners in a row aren't particularly difficult.
=> C / C
35" x 22"; 187 spaces; 7 corners (two "2"s); straights 59, 39, 22; one of the "2" corners separates the two longest straights
Multiple 6th gear moves per lap, use of 3rd and lower gears rare. Pits are alongside the longest straight, so stopping cars lose several moves. Very fast but very straightforward, as only a large amount of bad luck (or blocking cars) will cause a missed corner.
=> B- / B-
42" x 13"; 148 spaces; 6 corners (one "3", two "2"s); straights 35, 21, 19, 18; longest straight starts & ends with "2" corners
Figure-8 shape is oriented diagonally, but this leaves almost all of two (of six) board panels for cartoons. A good but slow track, with only a slight chance of a 6th gear move. There is some minor shrinkage compared to the black & white version, but the big difference is that the corner between the 35 and 19 straights was changed to a "2" instead of a "1". This can easily be switched back, for a much faster track with definite 6th gear moves and different corner emphasis, but it's "different" rather than "better".
=> B / B
38" x 17"; 152 spaces; 8 corners (two "2"s); straights 21, 18 (pit), 18, 14, 14; longest straight starts with "2" corner
VERY similar to earlier black & white track (only four one-space length adjustments), but I've upgraded my opinion of that one too. Unobtrusive cartoon and decent use of board space. Compact and medium-short track, but several straights have "between-gears" lengths. Very nasty "2" corners are both U-shaped, which means that being forced to the inside usually results in either a loss of position on the next straight (due to gearing down) or a spinout; this spreads out the field very much. Make up a turn or two by not pitting and crossing the pit straight with the only possible 6th gear move.
=> B / B
The next release is rumoured to be Imola, due in the late spring of 1996.
Ludodelire has also produced an "official" Championship Kit (c.f. the ASPIFD one described below) which contains car miniatures, record sheets, series rules, trophies, and a paper Mexico track. I haven't seen this package, but the real track looks like an oval with a large road course section extending from one side, so I expect that it is similar to Portugal and Spain in character.
Included with my copy of the French-language version of Formule De was a flyer advertising ASPIFD and showing drawings of a number of unpublished circuits. I filled out the coupon and mailed it off, and received in return a detailed membership order form for ASPIFD (which translates as The "Formule De" Pilots' Association). The primary benefit in joining, at least for those in North America, is that members receive copies of the "Championship Kit".
The following ten black & white tracks were part of my Championship Kit, which also included a variety of record sheets and a page of championship & optional rules. I received my copy in the spring of 1994 at a cost of 400 francs (postage included). The tracks included are apparently subject to change as additional full colour mounted ones are released by Ludodelire; for instance, Silverstone was listed on the flyer they sent me, but as the Ludodelire version of that track had just appeared the Phoenix track was substituted. I don't know what the current status of ASPIFD is now that Ludodelire has released its own official Championship Kit. The address for ASPIFD is:
Association Des Pilotes de Formule De
175, rue du temple
75003 PARIS Tel: 48 87 19 47 / 47 91 44 61
The tracks are big black & white photocopies, on either 35" x 40" or 51" x 23.5" paper sheets, folded down to 8.5" X 12" (to fit in a mailing envelope). There is no scenery, but all the information needed for the game (such as weather ranges) is included. These tracks all have a 12 car starting grid and six pit areas. Many of the sheets have large blank areas, but the tracks are generally larger and more varied in shape than the Ludodelire colour ones.
20" x 38"; 150 spaces; 8 corners (two "2"); straights 21, 19, 18; longest straight is immediately after the second "2" corner
Compact and relatively short, but several straights have "between-gears" lengths. Very nasty "2" corners are both U-shaped, which means that being forced to the inside usually results in either a loss of position on the next straight (due to gearing down) or a spinout; this spreads out the field very much. One chance for a 6th gear move if no pit stop is made.
=> B- / B
25" x 38"; 202 spaces; 7 corners (two "2"); straights 66, 43, 24; "2" corner breaks up the two longest straights
Long track but very fast, as a normal lap includes 4 moves in 6th gear and 3rd gear is rarely used. The pit is towards the end of the longest straight. Soft Tires and/or excellent grid position needed to get into the first corner with the leader(s) at the start. Generally straightforward gear selections.
=> B- / B-
26" x 28"; 158 spaces; 11 corners (one "2", several very short "1"s); straights 24, 15
Mostly 4th gear; winning depends on other cars making mistakes or bad rolls as all cars will very likely use the same gear shift points and only skipping a pit stop is likely to "make up a turn". The field stays close together, causing lots of collision checks, and corner blocking is very significant. Starting grid position and Soft Tires are VERY important to get into the first corner quickly (possible for first four grid places only).
=> D / C (only because the real track is like this too)
41" x 14"; 194 spaces; 10 corners (two "2"); straights 42, 25; one "2" corner at end of longest straight
Similar to Portugal, but more corners replace the back straight, removing a "catch-up" chance. Fairly long, as 6th gear is likely used only on the main straight. Gear selection straightforward except around the straight-splitting "2" corner. Nice long run from the start to the first corner makes grid position relatively unimportant.
=> B / B
46" x 20"; 152 spaces; 6 corners (three "2"); straights 50, 20
Short total length, but the odd lengths of the shorter straights make it difficult to get into all the corners (particularly for those without Soft Tires) and cause the field to spread out.
=> C / C
46" x 20"; 171 spaces; 6 corners (one "3", one "2"); straights 40, 26, 22, 21; "2" corner at end of longest straight
Fairly straightforward, but with reasonable variety and varied gear selection. At least 2 moves, and as many as 4, should be done in 6th gear. Two straights (the main one and the start/pit) are of "inconvenient" length.
=> B / B
46" x 16"; 149 spaces; 7 corners (four "2", all in a row); straights 20, 18, 16
Looks too short; "doubled straights" around the hairpin may make it more "realistic". When played "stock", VERY hard on Engine, as all those "2" (3rd gear) corners are separated by ~11 space straights which are often just missed in 4th. One move normally done in 6th, and one other dangerous possible 6th gear move at the end of the lap for cars which don't pit. Overall unique brutal feel because of those repeated "2" corners. Soft Tires make these corners much easier, help with the starting move into the first corner, and can allow a car to stay in 4th for both the short straights and the following "2" corners.
=> A / A
46" x 19"; 164 spaces; 8 corners (one "2"); straights 55, 19, 18
Medium-short with reasonable variety, good long main straight ends in two short closely-spaced "1" corners. Two or three moves in 6th per lap, and non-pitting cars should get a further chance for another 6th gear move.
=> C / C
45" x 17"; 183 spaces; 7 corners (one "2"); straights 28, 26, 23, 22
On an ideal lap there are three places where 6th is used (although the pits lie along one of these). All the rest of the course is taken in 5th, except for the "2" corner (in 4th). No section where risking a higher gear can make up a game turn, but long straights and high gears makes missing a corner due to a low roll quite likely.
=> D / C
44" x 18"; 171 spaces; 8 corners (one "3", two "2"); straights 36, 30, 18; "3" corner at end of longest (pit) straight; "2" corner at end of second-longest straight
Normally two chances per lap for 6th, but pit/start accounts for one of these. 2+ places where higher gear can be risked early to gain a turn. Murderous starting carnage with the revised collision rule, as first corner is a "3" which the entire field piles into at once.
=> A / A
This issue of the French game magazine contains a Formule De track as a fold-out (four A4 panels) insert. The track is an oval with various optional inside connecting sections, meaning there are 5 possible routes, but they are all VERY short, with three or four corners and TC rating of 4 or 5. If you really want an Indianapolis-shaped but short oval it's here, but you could probably design and draw a course of your own which would be more interesting.
-oval track: 23" x 16"; 100 spaces; four "1" corners; straights 2 x 24 and 2 x 14
-alternate tracks: "1" "2" "1", 4 x "1" (boot-shaped), "1" "1" "2" "1", and "1" "3" "1"
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