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Race information - Japan 2017 // All you need to know about the figure of eight circuit

Published by Christine Blachford

The return from the summer break has taken a little while to get going, but as we head into the last five races of the season, things are really starting to brighten up. We've got a championship battle that is admittedly one-sided, but still open to change, and there are some fantastic racing circuits coming up - including this weekend's. The Suzuka track is a popular but tricky one, which can often produce great racing, but can also be hampered by the weather. How will it all pan out this weekend?

Event schedule

This time last week, I was talking about the battle Sebastian Vettel had on his hands to bring himself back firmly in contention with Lewis Hamilton for the championship. Seven days later and we're in a similar position, but it could all have been so much worse. Ferrari have had several power unit problems recently, on both their cars, and Vettel was lucky to get away with the damage limitation he did in Malaysia. Now he needs to do it all again, and hopefully better, to keep the title battle going.

Elsewhere, we have the second race for Pierre Gasly, who did a sturdy job for the Toro Rosso crew in his first race last weekend. He, and several other drivers, are racing to get their hands on a contract for next season, so the pressure is really starting to tell on the midfield and backmarker drivers.

Finally, it's worth looking out for the angst levels this weekends. The middle of the season saw teammates tangling constantly, but now it seems as though drivers are looking outside their own garages for rivals. Magnussen is not making any friends, whilst Stroll, Palmer and Alonso have all had fists shaken at them recently. Who'll be on the naughty step this time next week?

Session timetable
DateDaySessionTimeLocal time
06 OctFridayFree Practice 102:00
GMT +01:00
10:00
GMT +09:00
Free Practice 206:00
GMT +01:00
14:00
GMT +09:00
07 OctSaturdayFree Practice 304:00
GMT +01:00
12:00
GMT +09:00
Qualifying07:00
GMT +01:00
15:00
GMT +09:00
08 OctSundayGrand Prix06:00
GMT +01:00
14:00
GMT +09:00

Support racing for this event includes Porsche Carrera Cup Japan and Super FJ.

Expected conditions

The weather for previous Japanese Grand Prix weekends has been unpredictable at best, and the conditions can change very quickly. There's often rain and the track temperatures can be high or drop down just as quickly. At this moment, it seems like there will be rain initially but things will start to dry out as the race start draws closer, but we will see!

Intermittant showers

Suzuka, Friday

17℃

  • Low 16℃
  • Humidity 81%

Intermittant showers

Overcast skies

Suzuka, Saturday

27℃

  • Low 17℃
  • Humidity 84%

Overcast skies

Partly cloudy

Suzuka, Sunday

28℃

  • Low 19℃
  • Humidity 88%

Partly cloudy

Circuit history

Circuit information
CircuitSuzuka Circuit
LocationSuzuka
CountryJapan
TimezoneGMT +09:00
Race debut1987
Laps53
Length5.807 km
Distance307.471 km
Line offset0.300 km

Japan is hosting its 33rd Formula One Grand Prix this weekend, although it's only been at Suzuka since 1987 (with two years out for Fuji to host). The track has often been the setting for world championship battles to be decided, and has seen some real classics in the past. It's position in the calendar makes that an unlikely event in recent years, in fact the last title decided in Japan was Sebastian Vettel's in 2011.

The unique figure of eight layout of the track was traditionally designed as a test circuit and so it has a great mix of challenges - high speed sections, twisting corners, and some recognisable and infamous turns particularly at the start of the lap.

The track has worked well for McLaren and Ferrari in the past, both tied on the most successful team there (seven wins apiece). This year, there haven't been any major adjustments to the track but the now traditional improvements to barriers and kerbing.

Results for the 2016 Japanese Grand Prix
SessionDriverTeamTime
Free Practice 1Nico RosbergMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:32.431
Free Practice 2Nico RosbergMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:32.250
Free Practice 3Nico RosbergMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:32.092
QualifyingNico RosbergMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:30.647
Grand PrixNico RosbergMercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team1:26:43.333
Fastest lapSebastian VettelScuderia Ferrari1:35.118

Tyre compounds

One week on and we've got the same tyres in action that we saw in Sepang, although the two tracks will have quite different conditions. High levels of wear and degradation mean that two stop strategies were in favour last year, and are likely to be seen again this time round.

Boss at Pirelli, Mario Isola, says: "Suzuka is one of the most challenging tracks for tyres of the entire year, with a very big emphasis on lateral loads that can cause thermal degradation if the tyres are not properly managed... it's very possible that we will see another lap record fall and some truly impressive maximum g-force loadings."

Selected tyre sets per driver
Medium tyreSoft tyreSupersoft tyre
Lewis Hamilton157
Valtteri Bottas247
Daniel Ricciardo139
Max Verstappen139
Sebastian Vettel157
Kimi Räikkönen247
Sergio Pérez337
Esteban Ocon337
Felipe Massa148
Lance Stroll148
Fernando Alonso1210
Stoffel Vandoorne1210
Carlos Sainz139
Pierre Gasly139
Romain Grosjean247
Kevin Magnussen157
Nico Hülkenberg139
Jolyon Palmer139
Pascal Wehrlein139
Marcus Ericsson139

Press conference schedule

Official press conferences are organised by the FIA and happen four times during the weekend. The qualifying and post race press conferences will take place after the television unilateral interviews.

Press Conference Schedule
DayAttendeeRepresenting
ThursdayValtteri BottasMercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
Felipe MassaWilliams Martini Racing
Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing
Lance StrollWilliams Martini Racing
Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda
Pascal WehrleinSauber F1 Team
FridayCyril AbiteboulRenault Sport F1 Team
James AllisonMercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
Mattia BinottoScuderia Ferrari
Yusuke HasegawaHonda Motor Co. Ltd
Ayao KomatsuHaas F1 Team
Paddy LoweWilliams Martini Racing
SaturdayThree fastest drivers
SundayFirst three finishing drivers

Race stewards

The FIA stewarding process includes a former F1 driver to offer added insight. These stewards are overseeing the weekend's action.

FIA stewards
NamePosition
Tom KristensenEight times Le Mans winner, German F3 Champion, Japanese F3 Champion and ALMS Champion.
Tim MayerFIA alternate delegate to the USA and FIA Steward, son of former McLaren Team Principal Teddy Mayer, plus involvement in management of IndyCar and CART.
Nish ShettyFIA Steward and member of the FIA International Court of Appeal.

All content in the series Japan 2017