The Suzuka Circuit in Japan is owned by the Honda Motor Company, McLaren’s current engine partner, and it has been a regular fixture on the F1 calendar since 1987. It was designed by Dutchman John Hugenholtz in 1962, since when it’s become renowned as an excellent test track due to its eclectic mix of corners.
The figure-of-eight layout makes this track very unique as it is the only circuit on the F1 calendar that has this configuration (crossing at Degner Two/130R), creating a relatively equal split of right and left-handers.
The asphalt is relatively old, which means the roughness of the surface helps to provide grip. Combine the asphalt with the aerodynamic loads created by the cars at high-speed and grip levels at Suzuka are deemed to be good.
The track is also narrow and it has a predominance of gravel traps in its run-off areas, so cars can end up beached after only a relatively minor mistake.
Drivers will however have to be on the lookout for, of all things, rivers! Suzuka’s coastal location means the weather conditions can change quickly, particularly at this time of year. When it rains, the undulations mean rivers flow across the track, which can lead to aquaplaning.
After coming from the back of the grid in Malaysia a few days ago to finish 7th, Fernando Alonso is hoping the new upgraded engine he tried out at the Sepang track will give him that added edge here at the team’s home venue….
“Like me, many drivers love going back to Suzuka every year and it’s easy to see why. It’s a classic ‘drivers’ circuit’ and its configuration is unusual, demanding and very unforgiving, so putting together a good lap is really satisfying, and all these characteristics make it really popular with both drivers and fans,” Fernando said.
“It’s a difficult circuit to set up the car perfectly for because the track temperatures change so much with the unpredictable weather, but we know this circuit well and will use the Friday sessions to dial the car in to the conditions and get the most out of it.”
“Japan is an incredible place and a country I always love visiting. The support we receive is phenomenal and makes the whole experience even more special. I love the people, the food and the culture, and our few days there for the Japanese Grand Prix are something I look forward to each year.”
“I hope we can start the weekend on a positive note and keep pushing forward – we’ve maximised our package well over the past few races and it would be fantastic to finish in the points again at the team’s second home race.”