THE JAPANESE GP
THE MAIN EVENT
Suzuka is perhaps the most complete race track in F1. As you’d expect from a circuit designed as a test track, the Beast in the East demands a bit of everything: fast changes of direction in the first sector; precise low-speed performance in the second; and high speeds in the third. It causes the sort of setup dilemmas guaranteed to bring engineers out in a cold sweat.
It doesn’t have a signature corner, and therein lies its appeal: they’re all signature corners, tripping off the tongue with the familiarity of the ages: Dunlop, Degner, Spoon, The Hairpin, 130R. Howsoever the cars change from era to era, there is always a sequence at Suzuka ready-made to extract the maximum from them – and there is no finer sight than watching a Formula 1 car hurl itself through the Suzuka Esses.
The track can, however, play second fiddle to the fans. The enthusiasm, goodwill and inexplicable hats all combine to make Suzuka very special.
CLASSIC RACE: 2005
This was the race in which the unstoppable force of Kimi Räikkönen took on the immovable object of reality and gave it a very hard shove. Out of the 28 grands prix that have been held at Suzuka, in 27 of them no one has won from further back than sixth. Yet somehow Kimi managed to win from 17th, defying the odds, shredding the opposition and executing a millimetre-perfect pass on Giancarlo Fisichella to take the lead on the last lap. The Iceman delivereth.
Circuit name Suzuka International Racing Course First GP 1987 Number of laps 53 Circuit length 3.608 miles Race distance 191.054 miles Lap record 1m 31.540s Kimi Räikkönen (2005) F1 races held 28 Winners from pole 13 Tyres Supersoft, soft, medium
TV TIMETABLE (UK TIME)
Friday 6 October Practice 1 02:00-03:30 Practice 2 06:00-07:30 Saturday 7 October Practice 3 04:00-05:00 Qualifying 07:00-8:00 Sunday 8 October Race 06:00 Live coverage Sky Sports F1 Highlights Channel 4