Formula One teams and drivers completed a long-haul flight to a unique eastern country, Japan for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Round 16 of the 2023 F1 season. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó delivers stats, facts and trivia ahead of the Suzuka race.
Long lap – The 5.807km Suzuka International Racing Course is one of the longest tracks on the current calendar. Drivers have to complete 53 laps during the race, covering a total of 307.471km. The start and the finish line are not identical, there is an offset of 300m between them.
One of the favourite courses– Tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix will be the 37th Formula One race in the Land of the Rising Sun. The race originally ran at the Fuji Speedway in 1976-1977. After a decade off the calendar, it reappeared at Suzuka in 1987 and ran there until 2006. It briefly returned to Fuji for the 2007 and 2008 seasons, and then switched back to Suzuka in 2009, where it has remained.
The British racer - Lewis Hamilton holds the record for the fastest race lap in Suzuka. The seven-time world champion recorded a 1m30.983s in the 2019 Suzuka race. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the race was not held in the following two years with the sport having returned last year. However, there was no chance to beat Hamilton's fastest lap record as the Japanese Grand Prix took place in wet conditions. The challenging conditions saw Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu set the fastest lap on intermediates with a time of 1m44.411s.
Hard tyres – To cope with the high loads imparted by the high-speed changes of direction, Pirelli brought its compounds of the harder end of its 2023 tyre range. The choise sees drivers use the C1 (Hard), C2 (Medium) and the C3 (Soft) compounds. In fact, the choice features a softer compound as the new C1 sits in between the C2 and the C0 with the latter having served as the C1 compound last year.
Important starting position – Pole position is not necessary key, but very important for success around the challenging Suzuka circuit. Of the 31 races to date, the race winner has started on pole at Suzuka 16 times.
Five outfits– In the history of Formula One, five different Japanese teams participated in the sport. The first one was the Maki outfit which entered eight grands prix, but the small team founded by Kenji Mimura failed to qualify on each occasion. The Kojima team was the next outfit from Japan to enter the sport. Their efforts were met with greater success as they started both of the two races they entered.
As a constructor, Honda joined F1 in 1964 and left it at the end of 1968. After a long hiatus, the now Sakura-based team rejoined the pinnacle of the motorsport in 2006, but this second spell only lasted three years. Toyota entered the sport in 2002 and after completing a total of 139 races, the Cologne-based team ended its F1 presence at the end of 2009 due to economic reasons. The small Super Aguri outfit participated between 2006 and 2008.
Japanese heros– A total of 21 Japanese drivers managed to get into the pinnacle of motorsport. However, only 18 of them managed to qualify for races while the three others only entered the race weekend, but failed to start races. The list of these successful drivers from the Land of the Rising Sun includes Hiroshi Fushida, Masahiro Hasemi, Satoru Nakajima, Aguri Suzuki, Toshio Suzuki, Toranosuke Takagi, Takuma Sato, Yuji Ide, Sakon Yamamoto, Kazuki Nakajima, Kamui Kobayashi and Yuki Tsunoda.
Only three – While Japanese powered F1 cars have taken more than 75 wins, drivers from Japan have fared less well. Only three have managed to stand on the podium. The first of those was Aguri Suzuki who scored his podium finish on home soil in 1990. The second Japanese driver to have snatched a podium finish was Takuma Sato who scored a third place during the 2004 USA Grand Prix. Completing this list, Kamui Kobayashi managed to stand on the podium with the Sauber F1 Team on home soil in 2012.
New territory – Both Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant will complete their first Japanese Grand Prix tomorrow. However, this year's third rookie driver, Liam Laswon has already raced in Suzuka, finishing fourth in the third round of this year's Super Formula championship, back in April.
Changes - New drainage has been installed on the left-hand side at Turn 1 and on the right-hand side of Turn 7. The track has been resurfaced from entry of Turn 3 until the exit of Turn 4 and from the entry to the exit of Turn 7.
A single one - There will be just one DRS zone at Suzuka, located on the main straight. The detection point is 50m before Turn 16 and the activation point is 100m before the control line.
The German driver- Michael Schumacher holds the record for most wins in the history of the Japanese Grand Prix. The German scored a total of six victories, one for Benetton and five more for Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton has won five time, followed by Sebastian Vettel, who has taken four victories. The other repeat winners are Fernando Alonso, Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen and Gerhard Berger.
The force from Woking - Among the teams, McLaren is the reigning force in Japan. The Woking-based outfit has scored victories nine times. Ferrari is the second most successful team with seven triumphs followed by Mercedes with five wins.