The 17th Formula One Grand Prix of the season takes place at the Suzuka International Racing Course in Japan this weekend. Having got back on top of the podium with a win in Russia, world champion Lewis Hamilton will be looking for back-to-back Grand Prix victories. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc has been in red-hot form for Ferrari, gaining pole position in each of the last four Grands Prix.
World championship leader Hamilton heads to Japan as the 6/4 favourite to win his 10th Grand Prix of the season. Meanwhile, Leclerc, who has won two of the last four races, is second favourite at 2/1. The usual suspects of Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen have also been tipped to do well in Japan. Who will come out on top at the Suzuka Circuit on Sunday?
Sunday’s race in Japan will be the 45th running of the Japanese Grand Prix. It will also be the 31st held at the Suzuka International Racing Course. Michael Schumacher was a serial winner at this circuit during his illustrious racing career, winning at Suzuka on six occasions. However, Hamilton will join the German at the top with victory at the weekend. The Briton driver has won the last two Japanese Grands Prix, and he will be gunning for a hat-trick of wins in the Land of the Rising Sun.
|17/21||Japan||Suzuka International Racing Course||308km / 53 Laps|
Update 11/10/19: Qualifying for this race will now take place on the morning of Sunday 13th October, prior to the race. This is due to forecast adverse weather as a result of Typhoon Hagibis in the region. Should conditions be unsuitable for qualifying, grid position will be decided by the fastest drivers in second practise. Below shows the original planned schedule.
|Date||Start Time||Finish Time||Forecast Conditions||TV Coverage|
|Practice 1||Fri 11th October||02:00||03:30||Wet / 27°||–|
|Practice 2||Fri 11th October||06:00||07:30||Wet / 27°||–|
|Practice 3||Sat 12th October||04:00||05:00||Wet / 24°||–|
|Qualifying||Sat 12th October||07:00||08:00||Wet / 24°||Sky F1|
|Race||Sun 13th October||06:10||08:10||Dry / 24°||Sky F1|
Last Season’s Result (2018)
Mercedes man Hamilton picked up his fifth Japanese Grand Prix victory at Suzuka last year. The Brit qualified in pole and was untroubled during the race, beating teammate Bottas and Red Bull’s Verstappen to first place. Will Hamilton dominate in Japan once again this weekend?
Ricciardo produced a miracle to secure a fourth place finish. The Australian driver started in 15th on the grid, but he had an excellent Grand Prix to finish just outside of the podium positions.
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||3||15|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||15||12|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India||9||6|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Force India||11||2|
|10||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Renault||13||1|
Analysis: Can Leclerc Return to Winning Ways?
After Sunday’s showdown in Japan, there will be just four races left in the 2019 Formula One season. The current world champion is well on his way to a sixth title, as Hamilton has a whopping 73-point lead over teammate Bottas, who currently sits second in the standings. Meanwhile, Leclerc is third on 215 points, with Verstappen three points behind in fourth.
Hamilton will take another giant leap towards retaining his world title with victory in Japan. It will also be his sixth Japanese Grand Prix win, equalling Michael Schumacher’s excellent record. Will anyone be able to stop the Stevenage-born man at Suzuka?
Brit to Come Out on Top?
Hamilton moved closer to his sixth world title with victory in Russia last time out. The virtual safety car certainly helped his cause, but the 34-year-old made it count when given the chance. Leclerc will have felt hard done by, but he dusted himself down to finish in third spot. The 21-year-old from Monaco has finished first on two occasions, as well as second and third in his last four races.
Hamilton has largely had to sit back and watch Ferrari take centre stage since his win in Hungary in early August, but he was back on top at Sochi. Can the championship leader secure back-to-back Grand Prix victories with 25 points in Japan on Sunday?
Hamilton to Edge a Thrilling Race in Japan
The drivers enjoy this old school track, and we should be in for a cracking race weekend in Japan. Ferrari have really come on strong in the second half of the season, and they could secure some more race wins before the campaign draws to a close at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the United Arab Emirates in December. However, Hamilton will fancy his chances in this one. Our money is going on the Hamilton win at 6/4.
A Better Race for Vettel?
German ace Vettel has blown hot and cold this season. Vettel heads to Suzuka in fifth place in the standings on 194 points, 21 points adrift of fellow Ferrari driver Leclerc. The pair seem to be having a personal battle at the moment. Vettel won in Singapore but had to retire in Russia last time out. Despite a Grand Prix to forget in Sochi, we fancy Vettel to be a real threat in Japan. The five-time world champion has won four Japanese Grands Prix in his career, and he’s available at good odds of 7/2 to prevail on Sunday. Meanwhile, you can get him at 8/13 for a podium finish.
About the Japanese Grand Prix
Japan’s Suzuka Circuit is one of the most recognisable racetracks in the world. It’s the only track on the F1 calendar that is in the shape of a figure 8, with the track passing back under itself at the mid-way point. Whilst it’s been Formula 1 that has arguably put the track on the map and injected a massive following in Japan, the track has been able to host other events, such as the World Touring Car Championship, Super Gt, Moto GP and many more.
The track was originally designed and developed by Soichiro Honda as a test track for Honda with tehri car development. But, it was deemed just too good to only be used behind closed doors and since 1952, racing of the highest calibre has been held here.
The Suzuka circuit lies south-west of Nagoya, Japan’s third largest city and is revered by drivers and the teams. The 5.8km circuit is famed for its figure of 8 layout and includes famous corners, such as the Spoon Curve and 130 R.
But, what really makes Suzuka special is the fans and they turn out in tehri drives to catch a glimpse of tehri favourite racing team, whether that be F1 or other motorsports. The race has often been at a pivotal time in the championship and it always provides a huge challenge for both the drivers and the teams.
The drivers set off down the pit straight, which is the first of the DRS Zone. There is a big elevation drop down into turn 1, which is something that many people watching on TV don’t see. This means that drivers have to nail their breaking zone and get on a little earlier than they might If it were a flat run down.
The drivers need to be fully committed into the corner, as it’s extremally fast taken at speed around 260kmph, before then breaking through the second part of the corner as it tightens quite considerably and has huge lateral G fighting against the driver’s neck.
We then move into one of the best sequences of corners anywhere in the world with the “s” turns. The corners move from left to right, rising up behind the pit complex – all the time with drivers fighting to get on full throttle as soon as possible. They then head over the top and drop down again looking for a late apex before riding up through Dunlop curve.
Drivers are then trying to take the corner flat, which it almost is throughout qualifying, although at the same time trying not to scrub their tyres and lose time. The next two corners the drivers are going to use a lot of the kerb, before having to drop down into the second of the two corners and accelerating through.
They then pass under the bridge on this brilliant race track before cruising through the kink and heading into hairpin. The will be looking for a late turn in for use of maximum acceleration throughout the corner.
The longest corner of the track awaits next and whilst it’s pretty easy in the dry, in the wet, which it often is at Suzuka, it can be very tricky in terms of how much power to put down. They then move into Spoon corner and run from kerb to kerb fighting to try and carry as much speed as possible through this.
The cars rise up the track again, heading over the crossover section. Interestingly, the bridge always creates a little ripple in the tarmac, which means that there is always a bump here for the drivers just to be aware of. They then hit 130 R a corner once feared by the drivers, but it has been improved of late in terms of the run off, allowing a little more speed to be carried through safely.
Next up is the famous chicane – the scene of when Prost and Senna came together and then straight into the final corner trying to find the best line, coming down the hill and across the start finish line.
The first formula 1 race was held in 1976. At the time, Suzuka was already a highly established track for motor racing, hosting several Japanese Grand Prix’s, albeit non-championship races. Since then, the track has been modified four times in total. The first came in 1983 when a chicane was added to the last curve to slow cars down through the pit straight. A host of crash barriers and run off areas were also added to increase safety.
The next change came about in 2002 when the chicane was lightly modified, and the 130 R corner was also made a little safer. A year later, 130R was tweaked again, increasing run off area even further and general improvements to safety were made as a result of the death of Daikro Kato in 2003.
1988 – PROST V SENNA
Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna went head to head in 1988 for the world title. The pair were widely considered to be the best two races on the planet at the time and the pair qualified in first (Senna) and second respectively to set up the race perfectly.
Dramatically, Senna had stalled on the grid at the start of the race, giving Prost an early lead. He dropped to 14th place but quickly made a charge through the field. By lap 14, the rain started to come, which benefitted Senna. Prost’s gearbox was playing up and by this time and Senna was right behind him. Prost had been held up in back markers for much of the race, which Senna pounced on.
Senna went on to win the dramatic race by 13 seconds, running slick tyres in the wet for much of the race. He then went on to win the Drivers World championship by just 3 points over Prost, which was also the points difference for that race.