JAPANESE GRAND PRIX
SUZUKA CIRCUIT - SUZUKA
Japanese GP: all you need to know
The Japanese Grand Prix is an unmissable event for true motor sport fans. In fact, it was the founder of the Japanese auto company, Soichiro Honda, who wanted to build this facility, as a test track for the company’s cars.
There have been 36 editions of the Japanese Grand Prix, from 1976 to the present day. The first two and those in 2007 and 2008 were held at Fuji, with all others taking place at Suzuka. Dating back to 1962, the John Hugenholtz-designed Suzuka Circuit is that rare creature, a Formula One circuit that tests every aspect of car and driver.
The Japanese GP rewards the audacious!
Like Spa, there are awesome high-speed corners such as 130R that push a driver’s resolve to the limit, an amazing ‘esses’ section, where incredibly rapid changes of direction put a premium on bravery and car balance, and the Degner Curves, at which the only options are perfection or a long walk back to the pits.
Not enough? OK, how about this: the Suzuka GP is held in the middle of a theme park called Motopia, it’s got its own Ferris wheel and the track is F1’s only figure-8 layout, even if the original design featured three cross over points!
Making history from the off
The first Japanese Grand Prix in 1976 produced a thrilling finale to the fight for the Drivers’ World Championship, between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, a rivalry captured in the film, “Rush.” Spoiler alert, Lauda pulled out after one lap, deeming the atrociously wet conditions too dangerous. Hunt went on to finish third, picking up enough points to take the crown.
The first at Suzuka
In 1987, the race reappeared on the calendar at the Suzuka circuit, built in 1962 as Soichiro Honda wanted a purpose-built track to test his cars. The track, famous for its “figure of eight” section was designed by Dutchman John Hugenholtz.
The Japanese Grand Prix has always produced thrilling racing over the years and has very often been the title decider. All the drivers love Suzuka, which is both technical and fast with some of the nicest corners on the calendar, such as the high speed esses in the first section and the legendary 130 R, which requires plenty of pace and a good helping of courage.