Japanese Grand Prix
|Japanese Grand Prix|
|Circuit length km||4.563|
|Circuit length mi||2.835|
|Race length km||307.57|
|Race length mi||189.967|
|Most wins driver||Michael Schumacher (6)|
|Most wins constructor|| Ferrari|
|Pole driver||Lewis Hamilton|
|Fastest lap driver||Lewis Hamilton|
|Fastest lap team||McLaren-Mercedes|
The Japanese Grand Prix is a race in the calendar of the FIA Formula One World Championship. It is one of the most-loved F1 events of the season, due to the exciting and challenging layout of Suzuka Circuit which hosted many races in the past, and because of its traditional place at the end of the schedule which means that this event has seen a great number of Championship crowns being won and lost.
In the twenty Japanese Grands Prix (1976-1977; 1987-2004), eleven have seen the title destiny decided (1976, 1987-1991, 1996, 1998-2000, and 2003), with five of those events (1976, 1996, 1998-1999 and 2003) being last race Championship deciders.
In 1994 and 1995, Japan hosted another Formula One event called the Pacific Grand Prix at TI Circuit, making Japan one of only six countries (the others being Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy and the USA) to ever host more than one Grand Prix in the same year. It was discontinued primarily due to its location in a remote area of Japan.
In 2007 and 2008, the race will be held at the redesigned Fuji Speedway, the site of the Japanese GP's inugural running back in 1976. From 2009 onwards, the race will alternate between Fuji Speedway and Suzuka Circuit, owned by perennial rivals Toyota Motor Corporation and Honda Motor Co., Ltd., respectively. This ended media speculation that Suzuka may retain a race under a resurrection of the Pacific Grand Prix moniker.
The first Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, in 1976, was held at the Fuji Speedway, 40mi west of Yokohama. The race was to become famous for the title decider between James Hunt and Niki Lauda as it was held during monsoon conditions. Lauda, who had survived a near-fatal crash at the German Grand Prix earlier in the season, withdrew from the race stating that his life was more important than the championship. Hunt scored the 3rd position he needed to win the title by the slender margin of one point. Hunt returned the next year to win the second Japanese Grand Prix, but a collision between Gilles Villeneuve and Ronnie Peterson during the race saw Villeneuve's Ferrari somersault into a restricted area, killing two spectators. The race did not reappear on the Formula One calendar for another decade.
Return to Japan at Suzuka
On Formula 1's return to Japan in 1987, the Grand Prix found a new venue at Suzuka Circuit, Template:Convert/miTemplate:Convert/test/A south west of Nagoya. The circuit, set inside a funfair, was designed by Dutchman John Hugenholtz and owned by Honda, who used it as a test track. Most notable initially for its layout—Suzuka is the only figure-eight race track to appear on the F1 calendar—immediately it saw another World Title decided, as Nigel Mansell injured himself when he crashed his Williams-Honda in practice and consequently could not start the race, effectively handing the title to his team-mate Nelson Piquet.
Suzuka will always be chiefly remembered, however, for the legendary feud between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. During the 1989 Grand Prix, Senna tried to overtake Prost to keep his Championship hopes alive, only for Prost to shut the door as he had stated before the race, saying he would not be giving up the position simply for McLaren not to be embarrassed by a double retirement. Prost was beached and got out of his car promptly, knowing he had won the championship whilst Senna got a push from the marshalls. However, it was deemed he had cut the chicane and eventually disqualified after making his way up to the lead and being first on the track. He was infuriated by the decision, as shown in a video of the pre-race drivers' briefing the following year, as fellow driver Nelson Piquet argued it was dangerous for a driver to go against the traffic just to make the chicane. At the ensuing 1990 Japanese Grand Prix, Senna mimicked Prost's statement of the previous year saying he would not move over if Prost attempted to overtake in the first corner, resulting in the two crashing out and thus handing Senna his second world championship. Both drivers have been accused of crashing into the other deliberately and thus the two situations as well as their comments after both incidents have tainted both driver's reputations in the eyes of most but die hard fans.
The late 20th and early 21st century have seen a number of other, rather more sporting duels for the Championship at Suzuka, most memorably those between Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen. The most notable of these was at the 2000 race, where Schumacher took advantage of his superior speed in damp conditions during a mid-race rain shower to secure the race win and his first World Title for Ferrari — his third in all.
At the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher endured one of the most trying races in his illustrious career but managed to secure the point he needed to take his sixth World Championship, beating the record held by Juan Manuel Fangio. At the 2006 event Michael Schumacher led until an engine failure virtually ended his chances of an eighth championship.
The qualifying session for the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix, due to have been held on 9 October, was postponed until race day after a typhoon hit Suzuka. This led to the idea of holding qualifying sessions on a Sunday morning (an idea that was abandoned half-way through the following year).
Alternation between Suzuka and Fuji
It was announced on March 24, 2006 by the FIA that future races will again be held at the redesigned Fuji Speedway in the Shizuoka Prefecture. The news of the Japanese Grand Prix moving to the circuit redesigned by Hermann Tilke was met with some trepidation, as Suzuka was a favorite of many of the drivers and Hermann Tilke's tracks have received mixed reviews from the drivers and the fans.
On 8th September 2007, it was announced that Fuji will alternate the Japanese Grand Prix with Suzuka, starting from 2009 onwards.
Winners of the Japanese Grand Prix
Only includes World Championship events
|Number of wins||Driver||Years|
|6||Michael Schumacher||1995, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004|
|2||Gerhard Berger||1987, 1991|
|Ayrton Senna||1988, 1993|
|Damon Hill||1994, 1996|
|Mika Häkkinen||1998, 1999|
Year by year
Events which were not part of the Formula One World Championship are indicated by a light gray background.
|Races in the Formula One championship:|
|2007 championship Grand Prix events:|
|Past championship Grand Prix events:|
|Confirmed future Grand Prix events:|