Round 15 of the 2014 Formula One World Championship brings us to Japan for the country’s annual grand prix, which once again will be held at the legendary Suzuka circuit. Originally conceived as a test track for Honda by circuit designer John Hugenholtz, Suzuka is a high-speed track with a figure-of-eight layout.

It features virtually every possible corner type of corner, from high speed kinks to flowing linked turns and profiled curved bends and chicanes and hairpins. As such, it’s a tough challenge for the engines, which need to deliver across the entire power spectrum without sacrificing drivability and responsiveness. Equally, drivers need to stay focused as gear changes are frequent.

Suzuka is a circuit of two halves and stretches 3.6 miles in length. The first part of the circuit, from the First Curve to Spoon Curve, is flowing and contains 75 percent of the circuit’s corners. The second half, from the exit of Spoon to the end of the pit straight, is all about outright power as 90 percent of this section is spent at full throttle.

Pirelli has nominated its two hardest tires for the weekend: P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium. The track surface is relatively abrasive at Suzuka, which means wear and degradation is high. Drivers will have to complete 53 laps on Sunday, and the current weather forecast calls for a bit of rain.

Following the events of the Singapore Grand Prix a fortnight ago, the title fight is still very much alive, although it’s still basically a battle between the two Mercedes drivers. Going into the weekend, Lewis Hamilton leads the 2014 Drivers’ Championship with 241 points, with Nico Rosberg in second just three points behind the leader. In third place is Daniel Ricciardo who sits on 181 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes AMG enjoys a total 479 points, followed by Infiniti Red Bull Racing in second with 305 points and Williams in third with 187 points.

Last year’s winner of the Japanese Grand Prix was Sebastian Vettel.


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