Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

Paddock Postcard - Sayonara Suzuka 08 Oct 2006

Alain Prost (FRA) McLaren MP4/5 walks from his car following a collision with team mate Ayrton Senna (BRA) at the entrance to the chicane. Meanwhile Senna pleads with the marshals to push start him. They did, he recovered to win, but was disqualified. Formula One World Championship, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan. 22 October 1989. World ©  Sutton. Race winner Damon Hill (GBR) Williams FW18 is able to celebrate his winning of the world Championship. Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, 13 October 1996. World ©  Sutton. Ayrton Senna (BRA) McLaren Ford MP4/8 passes Eddie Irvine (GBR) Jordan Hart J193 on the way to the win. Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, 24 October 1993. World ©  SUTTON. 1st place, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren drinks champagne.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, 9 October 2005 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day Suzuka, Japan, 7 October 2006

Suzuka always looks like a Scalextric track with its figure-of-eight crossover, and it has always been hugely popular for its sweeping esses at the start of the lap, the two very fast left-handers leading to the two Degner curves, the hairpin, Spoon Curve and notorious 130R, and then there is the infamous chicane that ends the lap.

Now, 20 years after it first hosted the Japanese Grand Prix, the Honda-owned track set in the grounds of a funfair stages what may be its last. From 2007 the race will be run at Toyota-owned Fuji International Speedway.

Who could ever forget the collision there in 1989 when McLaren team mates Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna came to a halt locked together? That day Senna drove brilliantly to recover after a pit stop for a new nose, overtake Alessandro Naninni, and win - only to have the victory taken away rby the FIA on a technicality.

Then there was the way that the Brazilian simply drove rival Prost’s Ferrari off the road in the first corner of the 1990 race, and won his second title as they walked back from the gravel bed there.

Suzuka is full of such memories. Of Senna marching down to the Jordan office in 1993 and punching upstart rookie Eddie Irvine, who had unlapped himself at one stage in the rain and, when Senna remonstrated with him, suggested he hadn’t been quick enough!

Damon Hill drove the race of his life there in 1994 when he beat Michael Schumacher in the rain, and clinched his championship crown one emotional October afternoon there two years later.

Last year’s race was a cliff-hanging epic as Kimi Raikkonen kept his title hopes alive by snatching victory on the penultimate lap from Giancarlo Fisichella, while Fernando Alonso was fighting back superbly after delays to take third.

Suzuka Circuit may yet stage a Grand Prix in the future. Until then it will be remembered fondly as one of the greatest tracks in motorsport’s rich history.