Suzuka's start finish straight

Suzuka's start finish straight, photo by Masaru Kamikura

The Japanese Grand Prix has seen several title deciders, 13 titles have been awarded here in fact in the past with it having often been the final race of the season. In 2011 even the title was decided at Suzuka, with another four races to go, though with Vettel needing only one point to win the title being 124 points ahead of Button, the only other driver still in the running, it was really a matter of when he would win the title not if.


More famous showdowns at Suzuka include 1989 and 1990 of course, in 1989 Senna and Prost collided with Prost instantly retiring and Senna rejoining but having to pit for a new nosecone. Senna moved back up the field to get the win that would secure him the championship – only to be disqualified for having cut the chicane when he was rejoining the track after his tangle with Prost. In 1990 the two would come together at the first corner, this time Senna would benefit to clinch the title.


Suzuka saw the title decider in 1998 where Mika Hakinnen won his first World Championship denying Michael Schumacher. The race had to be shortened after twice cars stalled on the grid, the second time it was Schumacher who was therefore forced to start from the back and fight through, making it to third before his tyre exploded.


Suzuka turn 1

Suzuka turn 1, photo by Morio

In 1997 the race was perhaps even more interesting though as the penultimate race of the season but a race from which Villeneuve would score no points as he was banned from the meeting but racing under appeal. Schumacher and Irvine worked together to engineer a win for Schumacher with Irvine having held Villeneuve up and ruined his race.


The Track:

Suzuka is similar to Spa in many ways, it has great fast sweeping corners and changes in gradient as well. As an older circuit though drivers do have to watch out for gravel traps as there is little run off here; at the same time the brave are rewarded and you can find a few tenths on corners such as the degners if you carry in a little extra speed. This is certainly a circuit where the cream rises to the top.


The Spoon curve at Suzuka

The Spoon curve at Suzuka, photo by Morio

Suzuka starts with a series of 7 turns that are high speed yet tight, this is a great place to watch to see what a modern formula one car can really do. If you want to see overtaking though then head to turn 11, expect high seat prices here however as Japanese hero Kamui Kobayashi made a habit in 2010 of passing here and so this is where every Japanese fans wants to be. Other drivers tend to prefer the chicane though, where Prost and Senna came together in 1989. Get the right position by the chicane and you should be able to glimpse the cars coming flat out through 130R as well, a fantastic sight.