Once a year, Formula 1 soaks up the cultures of Japan. An island nation in East Asia, Japan used to be the second home of F1 after Britain. Despite the departure of Honda in 2008 and Toyota in 2009, the passion and enthusiasm lives on during the Japanese Grand Prix.
With the third biggest economy in the world, Japan presents F1 beautifully. Despite the lack of front running drivers, they always put on a show whoever is competing.
Suzuka is a circuit that is rich with history. Unlike some of the recent Asian circuits entering F1, Suzuka is old and wise. It has soul and risk, with high down force being the way to go. Situated in Ino, Suzuka city, the track is surrounded by hills and scenery.
The track is a driver favourite, with flowing corner complexes and iconic corners. A 3.608 mi lap of the track starts with a quick trip along the pit straight, before turning right into a long sweeping bend.
Turn 2 sharpens the exit, as the cars blast on to the S curves. Why the name? Because the corners make up to S shapes. These corners, which make up turns 3-7, need high down force and good grip to carry as much speed as possible through the tricky turns.
The Dunlop curve is a fast, lengthily left hand turn before the cars get to the Degner Curve. This complex makes up turn 8s 8 and 9. The tricky, fast double flick right has seen many incidents and crashes over the years. Along a slight straight, the cars unusually go under the latter part of the circuit. It creates a unique figure of 8.
Turn 10 is a fast kink before the cars slow for a tight hairpin.
Turn 12 is another long right which requires superior grip.
Next up is the spoon curve, as cars twist around a long, medium speed hairpin.
Next up comes the fast part, with a long straight heading to the turn named 130R. This corner is not a common overtaking place, but Fernando Alonso proved it is possible in 2005.
The cars continue at high speed until they reach the braking zone for turn 16 and 17. This tight chicane saw the collision between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in 1989. The final corner is a fast sweep right before the cars rejoin the pit straight.
The Suzuka Circuit was originally designed as a Honda test track in 1962 by John Hugenholtz. The track features a unique figure of 8 layout, where the track passes under itself by an underpass.
The chicane was added in 1983, but apart from that the track is relatively unchanged. The Suzuka Circuit first hosted an F1 round in 1987. It hosted the race up until 2007, when Fiji took over for a short while. However, thanks to popular demand it returned in 2009.
Despite the changes to slow the track down, it is still incredibly fast. Red Bull dominated the track in 2009 and 2010, but Jenson Button broke that on going chain in 2011, driving for McLaren. The Suzuka Circuit has also hosted MotoGP, but after the death of Daijiro Kato in 2003 it has not returned. It also hosts endurance and touring car series, both worldwide and national.
F1 in Japan
Japan is known for their enthusiastic passion for motor racing, no matter what team. Despite the departure of Honda and Toyota in 2008 and 2009, the excitement surrounding the sport is still alive.
Their driver heritage is not the strongest, with 20 drivers in total having competed in the series. Some who have achieved notable success are Takuma Sato, scoring a podium in 2004, and Aguri Suzuki. Most recently, Kamui Kobayashi has ignited the F1 scene with his aggressive driving.
The Suzuka tarmac has witnessed world championship crowning, thanks to its late F1 season status. In 2000, Michael Schumacher claimed his 1st world championship for Ferrari. In more recent times, Sebastian Vettel clinched the title in 2011.
Japan is also praised for being one of the most culturally enjoyable places to visit. With the tasty food, amazing architecture and scenery it is a stunning place to visit.