A favourite of drivers and the scene of many memorable moments over the years, Suzuka Circuit hosts the Japanese Grand Prix for the 30th time in 2018. Learn more in Fast Facts!
One of F1’s oldest tracks, Suzuka was commissioned by Honda as a test track in the early 1960’s and designed with a unique “figure of eight” layout by Dutchman John Hugenholtz. Suzuka hosted the first two editions of the Japanese Grand Prix in the early 1960’s when the event was run as a sports car race, but didn’t establish itself as a regular Formula 1 fixture until the late 1980’s. Since 1987, Suzuka Circuit has only been absent from the Formula 1 calendar twice, in 2007 and 2008.
Suzuka is considered one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar and has hosted its fair share of memorable moments over the years, including thirteen World Championship deciders. McLaren teammates Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna famously collided two years running at the circuit, handing the drivers crown to Prost in 1989 and Senna in 1990 respectively. Other highlights over the years include a wet-weather masterclass from Damon Hill in 1994, Michael Schumacher clinching his first title for Ferrari in 2000 and Kimi Räikkönen’s charge through the field from 17th on the grid to victory in 2005.
The circuit is still owned by a subsidiary of Honda, which operates one of its oldest manufacturing plants a few kilometres from the circuit gates. This year, to mark the 30th running of the Japanese Grand Prix at the circuit, Honda has become the title sponsor of the Japanese Grand Prix for the first time.
Suzuka wasn’t the first Japanese circuit to crown a new World Champion. That honour goes to the Fuji Speedway Circuit, located in the shadow of Japan’s highest peak, which hosted an epic title showdown in 1976. The first Formula 1 race to be held in Japan was run in atrociously wet conditions. In fact, the conditions were so bad that Championship leader Niki Lauda pulled into the pits after one lap, saying ”my life is worth more than a title.” James Hunt recovered from a late pit stop to claim third place and win his only World Championship by one point from Lauda as Mario Andretti won the race.
Hunt took the chequered flag at Fuji Speedway in 1977 before the Japanese Grand Prix disappeared from the Formula 1 calendar for the next ten years. After being bought by Toyota in 2000, the Fuji Speedway made a brief return to the Formula 1 calendar when it hosted the Japanese Grand Prix in 2007-2008.
- With six victories, Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver in the history of the Japanese Grand Prix. On the current grid, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have won four times each in Japan, with Fernando Alonso winning twice. McLaren is the most successful constructor, with nine Japanese Grand Prix wins to their name.
- Suzuka and Fuji are not the only Japanese circuits to have staged a round of the Formula 1 World Championship. The Aida circuit near Kobe (now known as the Okayama International Circuit) hosted the Pacific Grand Prix in 1994-1995. Michael Schumacher won both races for Benetton.
- Two Japanese drivers have stood on the podium at the Japanese Grand Prix. Aguri Suzuki finished third for Lola in 1990 and Kamui Kobayashi recorded the same result for Sauber in 2012.
- Ferrari won five consecutive races at Suzuka from 2000-2004, four of them recorded by Michael Schumacher, but has not won in Japan since.
- Two-time World Champion Mika Häkkinen scored his first F1 podium at Suzuka in 1993 and also clinched his first World Championship at the circuit in 1998.