Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka
13 October, 7am GMT
Live on BBC and Sky Sports F1
First Grand Prix: 1987
Track length: 5.807 km
Number of laps: 53
Lap record: 1:31.540 – Kimi Raikkonen (2005)
Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost’s infamous crashes in 1989 and 1990, where each seemed determined to ruin the other’s chances at glory any way they could, are just two of the great finale’s this circuit has played host to over the years. It may not have the hnour of hosting the final race of the season any longer, but drivers’ hearts still skip a beat when they touch down in Japan to take on the devilish track.
The figure of eight outline looks like something from a child’s wildest Scalextric dreams, with a high speed overpass leading into a side splitting hairpin turn towards the Spoon curve. In the middle of a theme park, this is the ultimate rollercoaster.
Originally created as a Honda test track in 1962, the first grand prix came here in 1987, and expect for two sad years in 2007/8 where the Japanese Grand Prix was relocated to the Fuji Speedway, it’s hosted Formula 1 ever since.
The track is a car breaker, pushing downforce and brakes to their limits as well as being one of the biggest physical challenges for drivers. Sebastian Vettel’s straightforward win in 2012 masked another exciting encounter, with Sebastian Grosjean involved in his seventh first lap incident of the season, causing Red Bull’s Mark Webber to brand him a “nutter”.
With the next three races heading to brand new tracks, Suzuka is a timely reminder that ther’s nothing like a bit of history to get the heart racing.
2012 memory: Kamui Kobayashi finishing third and becoming only the second Japanese driver to finish on the podium in Japan’s historic circuit.
2012: Sebastian Vettel
2011: Jenson Button
2010: Sebastian Vettel
2009: Sebastian Vettel
2006: Fernando Alonso