2016 Track Preview; Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka

japan_suzuka_circuit

Daniel Ricciardo wins the Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen in second place and Nico Rosberg in third place. Williams, McLaren, Ferrari, Force India and Renault all managed to score some much needed points at the event also.

The Suzuka International Racing Course (or the Suzuka Circuit for short); in Japan is one of the most difficult racing tracks in the world. It is a technically, physically and mentally challenging race circuit. Nevertheless, the track is one of the favourites among Formula One drivers, and the spectators like it as well.

It is one of few circuits in the world to have a figure-of-eight layout, meaning the circuit runs both clockwise and anti-clockwise. The track does not actually intersect with itself, instead the back straight passes over the front section by means of an overpass.

Suzuka is a high-speed circuit with a top speed of 315 km/h and an average speed of about 230 km/h. The circuit length is 5.81 kilometers and it has a varied mix of high and low speed corners. A total of 18 corners with 10 right turns and 8 left turns.

The best possibility for overtaking is the tight Casio Triangle chicane at the end of the lap, even though the course is very narrow at this point. There are very small margins for driver error in Suzuka because there are almost no tarmac run-off areas, which mean that it is easy to get stuck in the gravel.

The nature of the track with its figure-of-eight configuration tests the cars all round handling characteristics and Suzuka is also, due to its high number of corners, one of the toughest rounds on the Formula One calendar for tyres.

The best set-up is the one which allows the best traction, grip and enable quick change of direction from the tyres. The weather is sometimes quite unpredictable in this region and rain is seldom far away, waiting to play a role in the Japanese Grand Prix as we all found out when tragically Manor driver Jules Bianchi lost his life in July as a result of his injuries he sustained in the race last year. Thoughts and prayers are with him, his friends and family as we head into this weekend.

And here are the facts and figures heading into the race weekend in Suzuka…

Facts and Figures

  • Suzuka has hosted the Grand Prix since 1987.
  • Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver at the track with six wins.
  • Sebastian Vettel is the most successful driver currently at the track with four wins.
  • McLaren is the most successful constructor to win the Grand Prix with nine wins.
  • Race distance: 307.47km (191.05 miles)
  • Number of turns: 18
  • Top speed: 310kph
  • Lap record: Kimi Raikkonen- McLaren (2005)- 1.31.540

Last five winners of the Japanese Grand Prix:-

  • 2011-Jenson Button
  • 2012-Sebastian Vettel
  • 2013- Sebastian Vettel
  • 2014- Lewis Hamilton
  • 2015- Lewis Hamilton

My top five finishers of the Japanese Grand Prix:-

In no particular order, here’s my top five predictions for the Japanese Grand Prix as follows:-

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Lewis Hamilton
  3. Sebastian Vettel
  4. Kimi Raikkonen
  5. Sergio Perez

Based on what the top five drivers have managed to achieve so far this season, I believe that Rosberg has to beat Hamilton this weekend again in order to show that he can capitalise on Hamilton not finishing last weekend in Malaysia especially when many believe that he has lost the title to Hamilton already despite what has happened.

Hamilton will also want to win this weekend at a track that he enjoys in front of his fans who will be attending this weekend and gain some ground on Rosberg in the championship. Vettel could have a strong weekend if he manages to get the car set up correctly. And finally, I believe that Raikkonen and Perez could both have solid weekends provided that they are able to get the right set ups on their cars over the weekend.

Do you agree with my predictions for this weekend? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Sky Sports F1 are showing uninterrupted coverage of every Practice session, Qualifying and race for the Grand Prix (and every race of the season) and Channel Four also are showing coverage, details for both are below:-

  • Sky Sports F1:- Friday (Practice 1 and 2) 1.45am and 5.45pm [Replays throughout Thursday and Friday], Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 3.45am and 6.00pm [Replays throughout Saturday], Sunday (Race) 4.30am
  • Channel Four- , Saturday (Qualifying Higlights) 12.15pm and Sunday (Race Highlights) 1.30pm
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