2013 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix
The Suzuka Circuit is one of the most revered racetracks in the world. Its undulations, fast sweeps and unique figure-of-eight layout require total commitment from the drivers, and victory, perhaps unsurprisingly, is confined to the world’s best. World champions have won 16 out of the last 17 races at Suzuka.
A good car is also vital, as aerodynamic efficiency and strong balance are rewarded in all three sectors of the lap. Sector one features the Esses, a sequence of five high-speed corners similar to Becketts at Silverstone; sector two includes the high-speed downhill left-hander called Spoon and sector 3 is made up of a long straight back towards the pits.
Suzuka is the only circuit on the 2012 calendar that features a downhill start-finish straight. This presents the drivers with a tricky balancing act at the start, when they have to hold their cars on the brakes until they release the clutch. As a result, there is a greater likelihood of jumped starts than at any other venue.
McLaren has a long history of success in Japan, having clinched seven world championships at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The 2012 winner was Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault) who completed the race in 1:28:56.242. Vettel also completed the fastest lap of 1:35.774, with an average speed of 218.276.
McLaren at the Japanese Grand Prix : 9 Wins, 7 Poles and 8 Fastest laps.
1977 - the easiest victory of James’s career? He qualifies second at Fuji Speedway, alongside pole-sitter Andretti, but takes the lead on the run to Turn One and is never headed. He finishes more than a minute clear of second-placed Reutemann.
1988 was the world-title decider between Senna and Prost at Suzuka. Ayrton takes pole, but quickly drops to 14th. He charges back through the field and takes the lead on lap 28. It’s a McLaren 1-2 and Senna is world champion for the first time.
In 1989 saw a showdown between Ayrton and arch-rival Alain took the lead from the grid. They ran nose-to-tail until lap 46, when they collide at the chicane. Alain retired and Aytron was later excluded, victory going to Nannini.
1990 was another title showdown between Senna and Prost, now driving for Ferrari. The pair collide at the first corner, giving Senna his second world title in controversial circumstances.
2005 was a mesmerising victory by Raikkonen. He started 17th, after rain scuppers his qualifying lap (one-lap qualifying, remember). With 5 laps to go, he’s 5 seconds behind race leader Fisichella and he seizes the lead at Turn 1 on the final lap.
2007 was the first grand prix at Fuji Speedway for 30 years and it’s wet, very wet. Lewis and Alonso lock out the front row of the grid, Alonso crashes out with 25 laps to go and Lewis takes victory eight seconds ahead of Kovalainen.
In 2011 Button starts second on the grid to Vettel, but he wins the race after taking the lead during the second sequence of pitstops. He has a titanic struggle with Alonso and Vettel in the closing stages, but wins the race by 1.160s.