Japanese Grand Prix - facts and figures 27 Sep 2007
With the Japanese Grand Prix returning to the Fuji Speedway for the first time in 30 years this weekend, we take a look at some interesting trivia about both the circuit and the event
- The inaugural Japanese Grand Prix took place at the Fuji Speedway in 1976. Mario Andretti took victory, while McLaren driver James Hunt secured that years drivers title after coming home in third.
- With its global headquarters less than 30 minutes drive away, the Toyota Corporation bought a 93 percent stake in Fuji Speedway in 2000. Before hosting this weekends Grand Prix, the circuit underwent a three-year refurbishment led by track design guru Hermann Tilke.
- Opened in 1966, the Fuji Speedway was originally built in the style of an American speedway, but funding ran out before its banking had been completed.
- The Fuji Speedway is located on Japan's main island of Honshu in the populous Shizuoka Prefecture. With the circuit just 62 miles from Tokyo, the events organisers hope to attract a total of 280,000 people to attend over the course of the race weekend, with 140,000 on race day alone.
- The Fuji Speedway last hosted a Grand Prix back in 1977. Since then Suzuka has been home to the Japanese race, hosting races every year from 1987-2006. In September, it was announced that from 2009 onwards Fuji and Suzuka will host the event on alternate years.
- although the revamped Fuji Speedway will be new to most this weekend, several of the current Formula One drivers have at least some prior knowledge of the venue. Ralf Schumacher, David Coulthard, Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto are among those to have raced there earlier in their careers, while world champion Fernando Alonso completed some demonstration laps with Renault last year.
- Tyre supplier Bridgestone will bring 2,220 of its medium and soft compound tyres to the Fuji Speedway this weekend.
- The Japanese circuit is overlooked by one of Japans most famous landmarks - Mount Fuji. At 3,776 metres above sea level, the volcano is Japan's highest mountain. Although still classed as active, the last eruption occurred three centuries ago in 1707.
- Mount Fuji is located at the point where the Eurasian, Pacific and Philippine plates meet. It is considered relatively easy to climb and in peak season as many as 3,000 tourists a day make their way to the summit up one of three mountain paths.
- Former Toyota team principal Tsutomu Tomita was announced as the Fuji Speedways new chairman back in May.
- The Fuji Speedway features 16 corners (comprising six right and 10 left-hand turns). Although at 4.5 kilometres-long it is a relatively short lap, its pit straight is an overtaking-friendly 1.5 kilometres in length. McLaren have calculated that after the cars have completed almost 20 seconds at full throttle, the top speed at the straights end will be around 315 km/h.
- 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 for the 1998 title at Suzuka, with Schumacher going on to clinch his 2000 and 2003 crowns at the same track.
- Three drivers have scored their first Formula One podium at the Japanese Grand Prix. Mika Hakkinen was third for McLaren in 1993; Roberto Moreno made his 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.
- Fuji and Suzuka are not the only Japanese circuits to have hosted a Grand Prix. The TI Aida track near Kobe - originally designed as an exclusive club for Japans gentlemen drivers - staged the Pacific Grand Prix in 1994 and 95. Both were won by Michael Schumacher.