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Suzuka Circuit

Formula 1 circuit

Suzuka Circuit
Credit: Mercedes
Vital statistics for Suzuka Circuit
CircuitSuzuka Circuit
Race debut1987
Results for the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix
Pole positionLewis Hamilton
Race winnerLewis Hamilton
Fastest lapValtteri Bottas

Some of the most fierce championship battles have been fought on Japanese soil, and the figure-of-eight Suzuka circuit has been the host to many a title-deciding race. The first sector is notoriously difficult, and the track features the recognisable corners of 130R and the Spoon Curve. Runoff areas are few and far between, meaning that mistakes are a big deal - something that is being lost with each new track on the calendar.

F1 history

The Suzuka circuit is an unusual shape and uniquely recognisable in the F1 calendar. The figure-of-eight track crosses in the middle, with a bridge carrying the track straight over the top of another section of the circuit. The tricky corners - Spoon Curve and 130R - rank highly on driver favourites, and the first sector of the track is a real challenge of skill and precision. Run off area is at a minimum around the track so mistakes are not dismissed as easily as at some of the newer facilities.

With the challenges so evident, it’s no surprise that the Japanese Grand Prix has played host to some of the classic championship finales in the past - not all at Suzuka, but many memorable events in Japan have been the deciding factor in F1 title fights.

The weather plays a huge part in proceedings, with changeable conditions bringing rain into the area. Although not too hot, or too cold, when the rain does come in it mixes things up and makes the difficult track even harder to navigate. Regardless of conditions, the Japanese fans flock to the track to celebrate Formula One, and with the comeback of Kamui Kobayashi in 2014, they will have a home driver to cheer on.

Balancing the car is all about getting the first sector right, as laps, races and championships can all be lost there. The lap begins with a long drag race down to the first corner, a fast right hander that leads to another, which in turn take drivers through the S Curves. Getting a good rhythm and a good exit is crucial to propel cars on through the second sector with speed.

Through the Degner curves and then on under the bridge and to the hairpin, drivers hit the brakes hard around the left hander and head towards the Spoon Curve. A quick entry tightens up around the apex and exit, and a driver can easily lose control as they try and make good time around the final few turns. A stretch of straight track allows speeds to rise and makes the approach to the fearsome 130R high-speed, the corner often taken at full throttle in top gear.

The final chicane slows the pace once more, as drivers hit the kerbs to get a good line out and around the final corner to come back to the start/finish line.

Suzuka was the scene of Jules Bianchi's fatal accident in 2014, bringing about further changes in the safety car regulations, and ensuring races were scheduled so as not to end in darkness wherever possible.

Learn more about Suzuka with the Pocket F1 Handbook.