Facts, information and statistics for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix weekend, Round 17 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at Suzuka Circuit.
The Japanese Grand Prix is one of the highlights of the Formula 1 season. The fans are passionate about motorsport and Suzuka Circuit is one of the most revered racetracks in the world.
The circuit’s unique figure-of-eight layout places huge demands on the drivers, who feel the hand of history when they take to the track because it’s changed very little since it was designed and built in 1962.
Of Japan’s 21 racetracks, only two – Fuji Speedway and Suzuka – have hosted the Japanese Grand Prix. Fuji was F1’s first venue in the Far East, in the mid-’70s, but Suzuka has been an F1 staple since it first appeared on the calendar in 1987.
- Lap distance: 5.807 km. Total distance: 307.471 km (53 laps)
- 2018 pole: Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes one minute 27.760 seconds.
- 2018 winner: Hamilton
- Race lap record: Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) McLaren 1:31.540 (2005)
- Start time: 1410 local (0510 GMT)
- Mercedes can take their sixth successive constructors’ title this weekend, equalling Ferrari’s record six between 1999 and 2004, if they score 14 points more than the Italians.
- Hamilton has finished the last 28 races in the points. He already holds the record of 33 successive scoring finishes.
Japanese Grand Prix
- Hamilton has won five times in Japan, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel four.
- Mercedes have won the last five Japanese Grands Prix.
- Ferrari have not won at Suzuka since Michael Schumacher’s last Japanese success in 2004. Schumacher won the Japanese Grand Prix a record six times and Hamilton, one of whose wins was at Fuji, can equal that.
- Kimi Raikkonen (with McLaren in 2005) is the only other current driver to have won in Japan.
- In 30 races at Suzuka, the winner has come from the front row on 26 occasions and been on pole in 15. Raikkonen is the standout exception, winning from 17th on the grid.
- Eight of the last 14 winners have started on pole.
- There have been 34 Japanese Grands Prix since 1976, four of them at Fuji. There is no home driver at present but Honda own the Suzuka circuit and power Red Bull and Toro Rosso.
- Hamilton has 82 career victories and has Schumacher’s record 91 in his sights, although he will have to wait until 2020. Vettel, third on the all-time list, has 53.
- Ferrari have won 238 races since 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114, Mercedes 98 and Red Bull 61. Former champions McLaren and Williams have not won since 2012.
- Hamilton has won nine out of 16 races so far this season and has a 73-point lead over team mate Valtteri Bottas, who has won twice. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc have also won twice, Vettel once.
- Mercedes have had eight one-two finishes this season.
- Leclerc has been on pole for the last four races, and six times in total this year. He has out-qualified Vettel for nine races in a row.
- Hamilton has a record 87 career poles, Vettel 56.
- Only five races so far this season have been won from pole — Bottas in Azerbaijan, Hamilton in Monaco and France and Leclerc in Belgium and Italy. Max Verstappen took the first pole of his Formula One career in Hungary on Aug. 3.
- Ferrari have had 63 front row lockouts, one behind Mercedes in the list of all-time records.
- Mercedes have been on pole at Suzuka for the past five years.
- Hamilton has 147 career podiums. Vettel has 118.
- Hamilton has led a record 143 grands prix since his debut in 2007, one more than Schumacher.
Suzuka Circuit Facts
When was the track built?
In 1962. Soichiro Honda, whose car company you may have heard of, was a man with big ambitions. Seeking to turn Honda into an automotive powerhouse, he decided his company should have its own test track. Dutchman John Hugenholtz got the nod, and drew up the now-iconic ‘crossover’ Suzuka track – although original drawings saw the track pass over and under itself a full three times, which would have been sweet!
When was its first Grand Prix?
Despite most people agreeing that Suzuka is a worthy successor to sliced bread in the ‘Best Thing’ stakes, the Japanese track was a relative latecomer to the F1 calendar, making its first appearance in 1987. Nigel Mansell would remember that weekend well, after he suffered a crash in qualifying that ruled him out of the race, gifting that year’s championship to his bitter rival Nelson Piquet.
What’s the circuit like?
Show us a racing a driver who doesn’t love Suzuka, and we’ll show you a liar. The high-speed track remains one of the ultimate driving challenges, with the snaking ‘S’ Curves, the two commitment-rewarding Degners and the white-knuckle ride of 130R all highlights in a series of highlights at what is one of F1’s seminal tracks. And hey, it’s got a crossover, which is always cool, right?
A track that has witnessed an unfair share of legendary F1 moments (not least between Messrs Prost and Senna), a unique set of fans with an unabashed commitment to playing Formula 1 dress-up, a Ferris wheel, and great food. Okay, for most of us it’s a long slog to get there, but surely a better question is: ‘Why not go?’
Where is the best place to watch?
Take your pick. Grandstands D and E overlook the ‘S’ Curves, giving you an amazing chance to watch downforce and commitment working in perfect harmony as the drivers negotiate the sinuous turns. Elsewhere, the left flank of Grandstand G places you at the inside of 130R, which should be a bit of a treat, while if it’s overtaking you want, Grandstand I will give you a view of the incident-attracting Hairpin.
(Sources: Reuters, McLaren Media, F1 Media)