Last year’s Japanese Grand Prix will remain firmly imprinted on everyone’s memory. On Saturday, the circuit was completely closed due to an approaching typhoon which, in the end, hit land elsewhere. Qualifying was subsequently moved to Sunday morning. 2004 was not the first time Formula One experienced nature’s might. Aftershocks were felt during free practice of the 2000 race following an earlier earthquake.
Suzuka is the only F1 track designed as a figure of eight. The track offers a wide range of corners, from the tight Spoon curve to the ultra fast 130R. The circuit is located in the middle of Suzuka Land, a leisure park created for the families of Honda employees. This year’s event will be the 19th Japanese Grand Prix to be held at Suzuka. Before Formula One’s debut in Suzuka in 1987, two Japanese Grands Prix were hosted on the race track at the foot of Mount Fuji (1976 and 1977). In 1994 and 1995 the Pacific GP was hosted by Japan’s Aida circuit.
In 1987, at the first Grand Prix held in Suzuka, Nelson Piquet, driving for WilliamsF1, claimed his third World Championship title. 1994 was another memorable race for WilliamsF1 courtesy of Damon Hill’s victory over Michael Schumacher in a race interrupted by heavy downpours. The win allowed Hill to draw level with Schumacher and keep the title fight open until the final round in Adelaide. In 1996, Damon Hill claimed the third Suzuka victory for WilliamsF1.
The city of Suzuka lies on the south east coast of the main Japanese island of Honshu and has a population of almost 200,000.