20 years after his title-winning drive at the 1999 Japanese Grand Prix, former McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen reflects on that day, and on how...
Japanese Grand Prix
First grand prix 1963
Number of laps 53
Race distance 307.573KM
Circuit length 5.807KM
About the Japanese Grand Prix
Is there a Grand Prix with more history or controversy, joy or heartbreak than the Japanese Grand Prix? In the 43 times the Formula One circus has visited the Land of the Rising Sun, we have witnessed some of the most memorable moments and extraordinary climaxes to F1 seasons.
There have been four races in Fuji, but the Japanese Grand Prix has found its home at the flowing, fast and tricky Suzuka Circuit and provides one of the most challenging tests for the drivers.
In 2018, Lewis Hamilton won the race, all-but confirming his fifth title over rival Sebastian Vettel.
Suzuka Track guide
Suzuka is a quick circuit, with every corner posing a different challenge, each of them tough. It’s the only figure of eight circuit on the calendar, bringing yet another different element for the drivers to deal with.
The opening right hand corner is one of the quickest first bends in the sport and will forever be in F1 folklore after the crash there between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in 1990. After a slightly tighter turn two, we reach the Esses. This section of sweeping bends, left, right, left, right, left, is one of the toughest sections of the track, and if a driver gets one part wrong, they’re likely to lose a lot of time here.
Following the Esses, drivers charge through Dunlop and the two Degners before diving under the bridge and into a quick right hander, where Daniil Kvyat suffered a huge accident in Q3 in 2015.
A tight hairpin comes next before the drivers take the run into Spoon Curve, a bend that seemingly never ends. The cars touch the apex twice before roaring away onto the back straight. Except it isn’t totally straight. In the middle of it, drivers encounter the fierce 130R. Taken at full throttle, only the bravest take it at full speed, let alone overtake here. But that’s exactly what Fernando Alonso did in 2005, when he got past seven time world champion Michael Schumacher.
The chicane at the end of the straight is the scene of another Senna-Prost flashpoint, this time in 1989, before the drivers sweep around the final bend back onto the pit straight.
1976 was the first time F1 officially visited Japan, at the Fuji circuit and the weather played its part in one of the tensest seasons in F1 history.
Hosting the season finale, both Niki Lauda and James Hunt were in with a shot at the title. Lauda, who had suffered a huge crash just months before, decided the rain was too much and retired after the first lap. Hunt finished third and claimed his only title by a single point.
As previously mentioned, Senna and Prost have had some rivalry here. In 1989, Prost seemingly turned into his Brazilian team mate, forcing himself into retirement. Aided by marshals, Senna got his car going again and won the race but was later disqualified for cutting the chicane. The result meant Prost took the title.
The following year, roles were reversed, with Senna slamming into Prost at the first corner, eliminating both drivers from the race, and handing the title to Senna.
A year later, Senna admitted he purposely caused the collision, and it will always be remembered as one of the most famous crashes in Formula One history.
In 2012, one of F1’s most popular podiums occurred at the Japanese Grand Prix. Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi was a fan favourite throughout his five season F1 career and secured a memorable third place at Suzuka with a terrific drive.
Last season, Lewis Hamilton led home a Mercedes 1-2 as Sebastian Vettel finished sixth, further denting his title hopes.
When is the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix?
The race weekend in Japan kicks off Friday October 11th, with Free Practice 1 starting at 10am local time (2am BST, 9pm EST). FP2 starts that afternoon at 2pm (6am BST, 1am EST). On Saturday, FP3 starts at 12pm local time (4am BST, 11pm EST), and qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix takes place at 3pm on Saturday (7am BST, 2am EST).
The Japanese Grand Prix will start at 2.10pm local time on Sunday October 13th (6.10am BST, 1.10am EST).
|Practice 1||10 October 2019||21:00 - 22:30|
|Practice 2||11 October 2019||01:00 - 02:30|
|Qualifying||12 October 2019||21:00 - 22:00|
|Race||13 October 2019||01:10 - 03:10|
|Times are in America/New_York Timezone|
Japanese Grand Prix News
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