Features of the circuit
Suzuka's layout is special because it is the only figure of eight circuit on the Formula 1 calendar. Fans and drivers love Suzuka and it is frequently said to be one of the most complete tracks in terms of layout. Overtaking is a bit more difficult there, though. The track is on the narrow side at some points. Since one of the longest straights is followed by a corner that can be taken at full speed, the circuit has only one DRS zone.
A lap of Suzuka starts downhill between turns one and two. This is immediately a tricky combination because when entering turn one, the driver has to brake for turn two. Via the S-curves, the driver arrives at the two Degner corners. The first can be taken almost at full speed, but brakes must be applied in time for the second. The drivers then head towards the third sector of the track via a short tunnel. After the hairpin and tricky Spoon corner, drivers prepare for the 130R. This used to be one of the calendar's trickiest corners, but with today's cars, the left-hand bend is an easy corner at full speed.
Iconic races at Suzuka
The circuit is best known for the legendary battle between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Twice the drivers met in Japan, and both could still win the championship. In 1989, Senna went for an overtake on Prost, who then blocked him. The two collided and Prost crashed out. Senna got back onto the track illegally and was later disqualified for it. Prost eventually ran away with the title.
A year later, in 1990, the two were at it again. This time Senna was ahead in the championship and the Brazilian would take the world title when Prost failed to score points. He took pole position, but had to start from the dirty side of the track. The FIA refused to adjust this. Prost, who started second, immediately grabbed the lead at the start. Senna wanted to take back the lead at turn one, but this ended in a crash between the Frenchman and him. Both drivers crashed out and Senna took home the championship.
In the 2005 Japanese GP, Kimi Raikkonen showed why he belonged in Formula 1. The Finn started from 17th position, but after a catch-up race he managed to finish the GP first. The Finn passed leader Giancarlo Fisichella on the very last lap. In 2022, Verstappen was crowned champion in a wet race at this venue.