Facts and figures - Japanese Grand Prix 04 Oct 2006
Next year the Japanese Grand Prix will shift to the Fuji Speedway. But before the paddock bids farewell to Suzuka just how much do you know about the event's history?
- The Suzuka track was designed by John Hugenholtz and originally built in 1962 as a test facility for Honda. It was the first full-scale race track in Japan and staged its first Japanese Grand Prix in 1987. This year's event will mark the 20th race that Suzuka has hosted since Formula One racing first came to the circuit in 1987.
- The city of Suzuka lies on the south-east coast of the Japans largest island, Honshu, and is part of Mie Prefecture. Today the city is home to just under 200,000 residents.
- In 2002, the circuit was reduced in length when several key corners were realigned to provide greater run-off areas. Retaining walls were also moved back and the track slightly altered at the S-Curves and Dunlop Curves. For 2003, the 130R was tweaked to provide a faster and smoother corner, with an earlier turn-in.
- The most successful driver in Japan is Michael Schumacher. The seven-time world champion has won at Suzuka on six occasions - with Benetton in 1995 and with Ferrari in 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004. He has also started the race from pole a record eight times.
- In 1989 Alessandro Nannini took his first and only Formula One victory at Suzuka whilst driving for Benetton. Although the Italian finished second on the road, he inherited his win from Brazils Ayrton Senna, who was disqualified after his infamous first-corner clash with McLaren team mate Alain Prost.
- The inaugural Japanese Grand Prix took place in 1976 at Mount Fuji, with Mario Andretti taking victory in a race that also saw McLaren driver James Hunt secure that years drivers' title. Next season, the Grand Prix will return to the Fuji Speedway, which is now owned by Toyota.
- Earthquakes and minor tremors are common in Japan and during the 2000 Grand Prix weekend at Suzuka, the Formula One paddock experienced a small quake.
- McLaren and Ferrari are the two most successful teams at the circuit, both having won seven races. Benetton and Williams are next up with three victories each to their name.
- As well as being the longest track on this seasons calendar, Suzuka also includes some of its most challenging corners. Among the drivers' favourites are the high-speed 130R and the famous Spoon Curve. On top of this, the circuit's figure-of-eight layout makes it unique in Formula One racing.
- Historically, the Japanese Grand Prix has been held towards the end of the season and consequently has been the scene of numerous championship deciders. Mika Hakkinen won his showdown with Michael Schumacher here for the 1998 title, with Schumacher going on to clinch his 2000 and 2003 crowns at the track.
- Japanese driver Takuma Sato scored his maiden Formula One points at Suzuka in 2002, when he finished fifth for Jordan. It was his first appearance in his home Grand Prix.
- Prior to that, the last time a Japanese driver scored points at Suzuka was in 1990, when Aguri Suzuki - now Super Aguri team boss and Satos employer - finished third in a Lola, with compatriot Satoru Nakajima - the first Japanese driver to compete regularly in Formula One racing - sixth for Tyrrell.
- Suzuka is the only Formula One circuit to lie within a theme park. Suzuka Land, with its spectacular Ferris wheel and rollercoasters, was originally built to entertain the families and workers from the nearby Honda factory.
- Three drivers scored their first Formula One podium at the Japanese Grand Prix. Mika Hakkinen was third for McLaren in 1993; Roberto Moreno made his first and only podium appearance with second place for Benetton in 1990; and, also in 1990, Aguri Suzuki, became the first Japanese driver to finish in the top three when he took third in a Lola.