Suzuka Circuit, home of the Formula 1 Japanese Grand PrixEnlarge Photo
Suzuka, a former Honda test track, is a high-demand circuit when it comes to lateral energy but relatively low-demand in terms of traction, because the track is very flowing with one corner sequencing into another--the whole circuit forms one big figure-of-eight. The tires will need to last but also offer plenty of grip, too. Pirelli has brought its P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium tires, which are well-suited to the circuit’s variety of corners and hard braking.
Practice got underway today without a hitch. At the top of the time sheets was Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel, followed by his teammate Mark Webber. Behind them were Mercedes AMG’s Nico Rosberg and then the two Lotuses of Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean, respectively.
Suzuka’s notoriety did come into play, with several off-track excursions occurring within the first 30 minutes of practice. Falling victim to the rapid esses were Williams’ Pastor Maldonado, McLaren’s Sergio Perez and Räikkönen.
Going into tomorrow’s qualifying and Sunday’s race, Sebastian Vettel leads the Drivers’ Championship points tally with 247 points, followed by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso with 187 points and Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton with 151 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing commands 377 points versus the 274 points of Ferrari and the 267 points of Mercedes AMG.
Recall, we may see Vettel crowned the 2013 World Champion on Sunday. He would need to win the race and Alonso finish ninth or lower.