After the news broke last week about Lewis Hamilton replacing Michael Schuamcher on the Mercedes AMG Petronas team, no one could fault Schumacher if he was less then excited for this weeks race in Japan. On the contrary however, Schumaceher is looking forward to Suzuka as it is one of his favorite circuits.
The Japanese Grand Prix, Round 15 of the 2012 Formula One World Championship, takes place on Sunday, October 7 at the 5.807 km figure-of-eight Suzuka circuit.
- The run from pole to the first corner is 545 metres – among the top five values of the season.
- 10 of the circuit’s 18 corners are taken at between 170 kph and 270 kph – including the entire Esses.
- Since the Japanese GP returned to Suzuka in 2009, every race has seen the Safety Car deployed.
One of the greatest tracks used in Formula One today, Japan’s Suzuka circuit is a massive test of car and driver ability. Built by Honda as a test facility in 1962, the track was designed by Dutchman John Hugenholz, the Hermann Tilke of his day. A huge theme park was also constructed at the track, including the famous big wheel which dominates the Suzuka skyline.
In 1987, having hosted various sportscar and F2 races, and having lost out initially to Fuji in the race to host the Japanese Grand Prix, Honda’s influence finally prevailed and the Grand Prix had a new Japanese home. And – 2007/8 aside – at Suzuka the race has stayed ever since, providing the scene for many nail-biting end-of-season deciders, including the infamous collisions involving Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
Suzuka includes some of the F1 calendar’s 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.
My motivation is completely intact after the news last week, especially because Suzuka is one of the season’s highlights for me. I enjoy the circuit – it has sections that challenge you as a driver like almost nowhere else. Then there are the fans: they love motor racing and it is fun to feel their passion. I’m also a big fan of Japanese food, so I’m always happy to travel to this race. Logically, it would also be nice to achieve a sporting highlight this weekend, although my chances are of course very limited because of my grid penalty. But I’ve always approached these things as a challenge.
The last race in Singapore was my best result for a little while and I hope this is the start of an upward trend for me and the team. So I’m looking forward to getting to Japan this week and getting on with the work to get the most out of our new aerodynamic package and upgrades. Suzuka is a very exciting track which is popular with every driver for the interesting corner combinations and unique layout. I also look forward to meeting the Japanese fans again who have such a great passion for the sport and their support is always so enthusiastic.
Suzuka is a fantastic racing circuit, and the support that Formula One receives from the Japanese fans every year is so impressive. They really do love the sport and it’s always nice to see their enthusiasm as we arrive at the circuit every morning. The track is a popular one with the drivers for its challenging layout, and Suzuka has seen some very exciting and decisive races over the years. For the team, we are looking forward to having more time to continue the ongoing work to optimise our new developments, and will be working hard to have a good weekend.
Suzuka is one of the most demanding race tracks in the world and, if you asked the drivers to rate it between one and ten, I’m sure that the average would be very close to ten. The circuit is a classic: almost every corner is a challenge and the high-speed uphill Esses behind the pits provide a real benchmark for aerodynamic performance. The average lap speed is comparable to Silverstone and the engines spend over two-thirds of the lap distance at full throttle. Engine performance and driveability are important requirements in Suzuka in addition to good aerodynamics.