Formula 1

Suzuka: The greatest racetrack on the F1 calendar

Winning at Suzuka is one of the great achievements in F1 (©GettyImages)
Winning at Suzuka is one of the great achievements in F1 (©GettyImages).

When people are asked what their favourite races on the F1 calendar are, most will say Monaco, others Spa, but these are not the only great circuits currently on the schedule.

One place that rarely gets mentioned is Japan's Suzuka circuit, yet this track with its figure of eight layout and iconic corners is arguably the best track used today, and here's why...

Designed by John "Hans" Hulgenholtz, Suzuka was opened in 1963 as a test track for Honda. At 3.6miles (5.8km) it is one of the longer tracks on the schedule behind Spa and Monza.

Without doubt it is one of the favourite venues among the drivers and is popular with most fans, the great races it has produced, often as championship deciders, has given it a history and a reputation some European races can only dream of.

The technicality of the corners means the cars run a medium-high downforce level and due to the higher loadings through the sweeping corners Pirelli will be bringing its hard and medium compound tyres to Japan.

There will be a single DRS zone for this weekend's race with the detection after 130R and the activation point along the main straight.

The circuit features some of the great corners or sequence of corners on the schedule. The first sector of this track provides a challenge most other circuits as a whole can't match.

The first two turns are very tricky as the first apex is basically the braking point for the second apex, therefore it is very easy to run wide.

Then comes the 'Snake', two left, right combinations of decreasing speed relatively similar to the Maggotts and Becketts complex at Silverstone. Getting this sequence perfect is almost impossible and demands a lot from the car and the driver.

The Dunlop curve is a long, uphill left hander where patience is needed at the entry and, carry too much speed, and the gravel trap on the outside is waiting.

Finally the two Degner's is another hard combination to get right, the first apex is all about carrying as much speed as possible but run wide and you will not slow down in time for the second corner and you will crash.

The second sector is a hairpin followed by a long curving 'straight' into one of the most famous corners on the circuit, the Spoon. Again it has two apexes in one long corner shaped much like a spoon. The first left is slower but easy to run wide while a good exit from the second part is essential as it leads onto the long back straight.

The final sector is home to one of the most feared corners in F1, 130R, sadly this corner, much like Eau Rouge at Spa, has lost most of its challenge. Now it's a flat-out 190mph (308kph) left hander, though before it was a huge test of car and driver to take flat out.

Then there is the final chicane, the Casio Triangle. Introduced in 1983, this chicane was where Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost collided in 1989 and is the best overtaking spot in the circuit.

That's a track guide to Suzuka enjoy an on-board lap here.

While this track, much like its European sister at Spa, has become less of an overall challenge thanks to increased downforce and alterations, it is still one of the great tests on the F1 calendar and perhaps the greatest racetrack in the world.

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