There are mixed emotions going into this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, round 14 of the 2015 Formula One World Championship. The event is always a favorite, due mostly to the enthusiasm of all the fans, and the track itself, the Suzuka Circuit, will always feature high on the list with its traditional features and unique figure eight layout (it was originally a Honda test track).
However, it was also at the Japanese race just one year ago where Jules Bianchi in heavy rain was involved in a crash that ultimately led to his death. What happened serves as a reminder that F1 is dangerous and that safety should always be the top priority. Fortunately, the weather forecast isn’t calling for any rain this weekend.
The Suzuka Circuit is a narrow, high speed track with very little run off and is therefore the ultimate test of man and machine. It can be seen as having two halves, the first, from the First Curve to Spoon Curve, is flowing and contains 75 percent of the 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.
Due to the high-speed nature of the track, Pirelli has nominated the hard and medium tires. The fast and demanding corners mean the tires experience extremely high-energy loads, leading to heat build-up on the tread. This requires the most durable compounds in the range to maintain consistent grip.
Last year, we saw Mercedes AMG’s Nico Rosberg come out on top. If Mercedes doesn’t bounce back from its poor performance during last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, we could just see one of the Ferrari or Infiniti Red Bull Racing drivers standing at the top of the podium this year.
Going into this weekend’s event, Mercedes’ star driver Lewis Hamilton still leads the 2015 Drivers’ Championship with 252 points, with Rosberg in second with 211 points and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in third with 203 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 463 points, while Ferrari is second with 310 points and Williams third with 198 points.