Formula One teams and drivers headed east, to Suzuka for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Round 17 of the championship. The arrival of the Typhoon Hagabis forced the organizers to cancel every track activity on Saturday, but the weather is expected to improve for race day.
Long lap – The 5.807km Suzuka International Racing Course is one of the longest tracks on the current calendar. Drivers have to complete 53 laps during the race, covering a total of 307.471km. The start and the finish line are not identical, there is an offset of 300m between them.
One of the favourite courses– Tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix will be the 35th Formula One race in the Land of the Rising Sun. The race originally ran at the Fuji Speedway in 1976-1977. After a decade off the calendar, it reappeared at Suzuka in 1987 and ran there until 2006. It briefly returned to Fuji for the 2007 and 2008 seasons, and then switched back to Suzuka in 2009, where it has remained.
From the past – Kimi Räikkönen holds the record for the best race lap. On his way to victory in the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix, Kimi Räikkönen recorded a lap time of 1m31.540 which is still the quickest ever race lap to date. The record for fastest ever lap belongs to Lewis Hamilton who set a lap time of 1m27.319 in the qualifying session for the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix.
Hard tyres – To cope with the high loads imparted by the high-speed changes of direction, Pirelli brought its three hardest compounds to the Far East, meaning that drivers have to make the best out of the C1 (Hard), C2 (Medium) and the C3 (Soft) compounds.
Important starting position – Pole position is not necessary key, but very important for success around the challenging Suzuka circuit. Of the 30 races to date, the race winner has started on pole at Suzuka 15 times.
Five outfits– In the history of Formula One, five different Japanese teams participated in the sport. The first one was the Maki outfit which entered eight grands prix, but the small team founded by Kenji Mimura failed to qualify on each occasion. The Kojima team was the next outfit from Japan to enter the sport. Their efforts were met with greater success as they started both of the two races they entered.
As a constructor, Honda joined F1 in 1964 and left it at the end of 1968. After a long hiatus, the now Sakura-based team rejoined the pinnacle of the motorsport in 2006, but this second spell only lasted three years. Toyota entered the sport in 2002 and after completing a total of 139 races, the Cologne-based team ended its F1 presence at the end of 2009 due to economic reasons. The small Super Aguri outfit participated between 2006 and 2008.
Japanese heros– A total of twenty Japanese drivers managed to get into the pinnacle of motorsport. However, only 17 of them managed to qualify for races while the three others only entered the race weekend, but failed to start races. The list of these successful drivers from the Land of the Rising Sun includes Hiroshi Fushida, Masahiro Hasemi, Satoru Nakajima, Aguri Suzuki, Toshio Suzuki, Toranosuke Takagi, Takuma Sato, Yuji Ide, Sakon Yamamoto, Kazuki Nakajima, Kamui Kobayashi.
Only three – While Japanese powered F1 cars have taken more than 75 wins, drivers from Japan have fared less well. Only three have managed to stand on the podium. The first of those was Aguri Suzuki who scored his podium finish on home soil in 1990. The second Japanese driver to have snatched a podium finish was Takuma Sato who scored a third place during the 2004 USA Grand Prix. Completing this list, Kamui Kobayashi managed to stand on the podium with the Sauber F1 Team on home soil in 2012.
New territory – F1 newcomers George Russell, Antonio Giovinazzi, Alex Albon and Lando Norris all make their competitive Suzuka debut this weekend. Of the four, only Norris has previous experiences around the demanding and challenging as the young Briton drove in the first practice session last year.
Slight changes – The artificial grass on the right-hand side at Turn 15 has been removed and replaced with an FIA/FIM double kerb.
A single one – There will be just one DRS zone at Suzuka, located on the main straight. The detection point is 50m before Turn 16 and the activation point is 100m before the control line.
The German emperor – Michael Schumacher holds the record for most wins in the history of the Japanese Grand Prix. The German scored a total of six victories, one for Benetton and five more for Ferrari.
The force from Woking – Among the teams, McLaren is the reigning force in Japan. The Woking-based outfit has scored victories nine times. Ferrari is the second most successful team with seven triumphs followed by Mercedes with five wins.