Japan - Suzuka
Suzuka International Racing Course
|First Grand Prix||1987|
|Circuit length||5.807 km|
|Number of laps||53|
|Race distance||307.471 km|
|Lap record||1:30.983 - Hamilton (2019)|
When was the track built?
In 1962. Soichiro Honda, whose car company you may have heard of, was a man with big ambitions. Seeking to turn Honda into an automotive powerhouse, he decided his company should have its own test track. Dutchman John Hugenholtz got the nod, and drew up the now-iconic ‘crossover’ Suzuka track – although original drawings saw the track pass over and under itself a full three times, which would have been sweet!
When was its first Grand Prix?
Despite most people agreeing that Suzuka is a worthy successor to sliced bread in the ‘Best Thing’ stakes, the Japanese track was a relative latecomer to the F1 calendar, making its first appearance in 1987. Nigel Mansell would remember that weekend well, after he suffered a crash in qualifying that ruled him out of the race, gifting that year’s championship to his bitter rival Nelson Piquet.
What’s the circuit like?
Show us a racing a driver who doesn’t love Suzuka, and we’ll show you a liar. The high-speed track remains one of the ultimate driving challenges, with the snaking ‘S’ Curves, the two commitment-rewarding Degners and the white-knuckle ride of 130R all highlights in a series of highlights at what is one of F1’s seminal tracks. And hey, it’s got a crossover, which is always cool, right?
A track that has witnessed an unfair share of legendary F1 moments (not least between Messrs Prost and Senna), a unique set of fans with an unabashed commitment to playing Formula 1 dress-up, a Ferris wheel, and great food. Okay, for most of us it’s a long slog to get there, but surely a better question is: ‘Why not go?’
Where is the best place to watch?
Take your pick. Grandstands D and E overlook the ‘S’ Curves, giving you an amazing chance to watch downforce and commitment working in perfect harmony as the drivers negotiate the sinuous turns. Elsewhere, the left flank of Grandstand G places you at the inside of 130R, which should be a bit of a treat, while if it’s overtaking you want, Grandstand I will give you a view of the incident-attracting Hairpin.