Preview: Japanese Grand Prix, the Thrill to Drive
Yuki Tsunoda on track during practice ahead of the F1 GP of Japan at Suzuka. October 07, 2022. Photo courtesy: Clive Mason/Getty Images.

Formula 1 action resumes this weekend with a classic, the Japanese Grand Prix, as the series arrives in Suzuka fresh from a night thriller in Singapore.

Held on the Suzuka International Racing Course, the 17th round of the season celebrates the 37th edition of the venue, the Formula 1 Lenovo Japanese Grand Prix.

The racetrack spans 5.807 km (3.608 miles) across 53 laps, featuring its characteristic high-speed corners.

This season, the circuit boasts a series of changes, which includes a resurfaced track from Turn 3 until Turn 4 and from the entry to the exit of Turn 7, according to the FIA.

In addition, new drainage has been installed on the left-hand side at Turn 1 and on the right-hand side of Turn 7.

The only track to feature a figure-of-eight layout applies high lateral and vertical loads on the tires.

In that regard, MARIO ISOLA - PIRELLI HEAD OF MOTORSPORT, outlined: “With its very significant lateral and vertical loads, Suzuka is as demanding on tires as it is on drivers.

These demands are equally distributed across all four wheels, with ten right-handers and eight left-handers throughout the six-kilometer lap. As a result of these challenging characteristics, we bring some of the hardest tires in the 2023 range to Japan: C1, C2, and C3.”

This is only nominally the same as last year’s selection on account of the new C1 compound, which was introduced this season to slot in between the C2 and former C1 (now called C0).

Isola also elaborated on the new version of the C2 compound to be tested on Friday.

On Friday, all the teams will get the chance to test a new version of the C2 compound, with a view to homologating it for next season. This latest evolution should provide more grip than the current C2 and so fit in more coherently between the C1 and C3.”

During the first two free practice sessions, each driver will have two additional sets of tires, compared to the usual 13 sets per weekend.

This test is part of a development program that was recently defined for 2024 and will continue with a new C4 compound to be tested on track during the Mexican Grand Prix weekend,” Isola asserted.

An Old-School Feel

Built-in 1962, it first served as host for a Formula One Grand Prix in 1987.

Over the years, the circuit - owned by Honda, became a much-anticipated round of the season, the stage where champions were crowned.

In 1976, under heavy wet conditions, Niki Lauda and James Hunt were the protagonists in Japan, with the former retiring the car and Hunt capturing his first and sole F1 championship.

Between 1989 and 1990, the traditional racetrack witnessed McLaren teammates and rivals, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, writing some of the most legendary and controversial chapters in the series’ history with dramatic title decisions.

The British outfit became the most successful on Japanese soil, earning nine victories.

The circuit continued to host the event until 2005, moving to a revamped Fuji Speedway the following year.

In 2009, the venue returned to the high-speed track of Suzuka; to this day, Michael Schumacher holds the record for most wins (six) by a driver.

Meanwhile, Red Bull Racing, leading the overall standings with 597 points, can bring home the Constructor’s title this weekend as the Milton Keynes squad’s closest opponent, Mercedes, is 308 behind.

Ferrari follows in third, 332 points behind Red Bull, so the British team must outscore Mercedes by one point or more or not be outscored by the Scuderia by 24 points to take the championship in Japan. After Suzuka, there will be 309 points on the table.

Japan is represented on the Formula One grid by Yuki Tsunoda at the wheel of the AlphaTauri AT04.

During Thursday’s press conference, the home hope said: ‘The track layout is amazing. It’s my favorite track. I’m just really looking forward to driving here.”

Seems to be good weather this week. So I can feel pure kind of performance, Formula 1 as performance, here in Suzuka, especially in the first sector. The last chicane is a fast chicane and that’s kind of proper aerodynamic downforce corners.”

And yeah, also for the fans, as well. I feel I got a really warm welcome from them. It’s nice to be here, looking forward to it.”

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and journalist, passionate about motorsport and tennis.Her articles are published in newspapers and international online publications.

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