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F1 Tracks: Suzuka Circuit - Japanese Grand Prix

Few tracks can hold a candle to Suzuka Circuit's unique combination of layout, history, mysticism, thrills and spills, all of which have contributed to making the home of the Japanese Grand Prix a firm favourite amongst fans and drivers alike.

The only figure of eight circuit on the Formula 1 calendar features every type of corner imaginable and in this age of so many driver assists, remains one of the few circuits that truly puts a racer to the test.

The track might be narrow, making overtaking tricky, but still provides a high-speed white knuckle ride, featuring one of the fastest corners of the year, 130R, the distinctive S curves, changing topography and infamous crossover.

As if the circuit and adjacent theme park didn't provide enough thrills, Suzuka's place on the schedule means the track has been the site of 12 title deciders. 

No circuit has seen more F1 champions crowned, some in memorable style with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna involved in two controversial finishes, while Max Verstappen clinched his second title at Suzuka in 2022.

What2023 Japanese Grand Prix
WhereSuzuka Circuit, Suzuka City
WhenFriday 22nd September - Sunday 24th September
How to watchSky Sports F1

Where is Suzuka Circuit?

The Suzuka Circuit can be found nestled in Japan's Mie Prefecture, 30 miles south of the nation's fourth largest city, Nagoya. 

Surrounded by car manufacturers and located next to a theme park, which is why cars are often pictured with a Ferris Wheel behind them, the changing terrain of the area makes for a dramatic setting for a race track to be squeezed into.

When was Suzuka Circuit first built?

The track was originally requested by Soichiro Honda, head of Honda in the 1950s, as he felt his company needed its own test track.

He commissioned John Hugenholtz to come up with a circuit and the Dutch designer let his imagination run free, initially coming up with a plan that would see the track pass over and under itself three times in a unique figure of eight layout.

When it was opened in September 1962, the figure of eight layout remained but included just one crossover. 

It was quickly established the track was too good just to be used as a test venue and national events in Japan soon began taking place at the circuit, although it would be a while before F1 touched the tarmac.

How long is Suzuka Circuit?

At 5.807km, Suzuka is currently the seventh longest track on the Formula 1 calendar, although the high-speed nature of the track means it doesn't take long to get round.

F1 cars average around 230km per hour when competing in the Japanese Grand Prix and hit 315km when going down the start/finish straight.

The track features 18 corners, some of them synonymous with Formula 1, including the 130R, Spoon curve, Degner and Dunlop. 

When did Suzuka Circuit first host an F1 race?

After an unsuccessful two-year spell racing in Fuji in the 1970s, the Japanese Grand Prix moved to Suzuka in 1987.

The track has changed very little during its time on the F1 circuit and has been the home of the Japanese Grand Prix largely ever since, with the exception of a two-year spell in 2007 and 2008 when the race went back to Fuji Speedway. 

It was then supposed to alternate between the two tracks before Fuji's owners, Toyota, decided they no longer wanted to hold the race. Currently, Suzuka has a deal with F1 to keep hosting the Japanese Grand Prix until 2024.

Who has won the most F1 races at Suzuka Circuit?

Michael Schumacher is the most successful Formula 1 driver at Suzuka, taking the chequered flag six times between 1995 and 2004. The seven-time world champion won once in a Benetton with the rest of his victories coming in a Ferrari, while he also holds the record for most pole positions at the track.

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are next on the list with four wins apiece, while the likes of Senna, Damon Hill and Mika Hakkinen all won at Suzuka multiple times. 

Hakkinen's wins contributed to McLaren's unmatched total of eight victories at Suzuka, with Ferrari one behind on seven.

What is the F1 lap record at Suzuka Circuit?

Hamilton holds the record lap time during a race at Suzuka at 1:30.983, set during the height of Mercedes' dominance in 2019. 

Vettel holds the F1 track record at Suzuka, going round in 1:27.064 in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix in 2019.

Does Suzuka Circuit host any other events?

Being one of the crown jewels of motorsport, plenty of other classes compete at Suzuka, including the Endurance World Championship, Super GT and GT World Challenge Asia.

Previously, MotoGP and the World Touring Cars have staged races at the venue, while NASCAR held a pair of exhibition races on a modified version of the track in 1996 and 97.  

What is the weather like at Suzuka Circuit?

Suzuka boasts a warm, tropical climate, which can lead to some drastic variations in the weather. 

Often hot and dry, Suzuka Circuit has also played host to its fair share of wet races, including the 2022 Grand Prix, which was affected by Typhoon Nanmadol and ended up being cut short. 

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