The circuit has two layouts, the 1.3 miles International layout with 9 corners and the 1 mile National layout with 10 corners. On both layouts the circuit is 10 metres wide and has a total elevation change of 37 metres.
A Porsche at the top of Duffus Dip
A lap of Knockhill, beginning at the start line (which unusually for a motor racing circuit is at a different point to the finish line. Whilst the start line is roughly in the middle of the pit straight, the finish line is situated slightly to the west, towards the final corner), first involves passing over the crest which marks the highest point of the circuit. The circuit then levels out and passes under the pedestrian bridge before a short braking zone preceding the first of the nine corners, Duffus Dip, a fast, blind apexed downhill right hand corner widely regarded as one of the most challenging corners in the United Kingdom. At the foot of this decline is a quick left hand corner named Leslie's followed swiftly by a tricky braking zone, due to vehicles possibly still being unsettled from the levelling out of the track through Leslie's, for the next corner, a ninety degree right hand bend named McIntyre's.
A car in Renault Formula 1 colours at Clark's corner
After the exit of McIntyre's there is a short straight leading to the next corner, a shallow right hand corner named Butcher's. After this the track dips downward (reaching the lowest point of the circuit) before rising fairly steeply upwards towards another very challenging corner. The Chicane is a challenge because the second, right hand part of the corner is completely blind and drivers do not see the apex of the second part until after they have turned in and it is this combined with the presence of a sausage kerb on the inside of the track to deter corner cutting that results in vehicles often going through the chicane on two wheels (and occasionally off the ground completely). After a run down the short back straight comes the next corner, Clark's, a blind uphill right hander, frequently the scene of vehicles getting onto two wheels and/or running wide into the gravel located on the outside of the corner. Fairly quickly following this is a corner now named Hislop's but previously named Railway, in reference to the fact that it is this section of the track that runs along the location of the old railway line. This corner is a left handed kink taken at relatively high speeds.
Some Volkswagens at Taylor's hairpin
Then comes the second longest straight of the circuit, also named Railway, where vehicles often slipstream one another in preparation for the heaviest braking zone belonging to the ninth and final corner. Taylor's is a hairpin corner that is one of the tightest found anywhere in the UK. It has an uphill apex, is arguably the best overtaking point of the circuit and was previously known as the Real Radio Hairpin for sponsorship reasons. Upon exit from Taylor's vehicles accelerate hard on the part uphill pit straight towards the finish line.