Suzuka Circuit, home of the Formula 1 Japanese Grand PrixEnlarge Photo
We’re now heading into the final rounds of the 2016 Formula One World Championship and the title race is still very much alive.
Round 17 is on this weekend in Japan, with the race taking place at the familiar Suzuka Circuit, on the main island of Honshu.
The Japanese Grand Prix is always a favorite, due mostly to the enthusiasm of all the fans. Suzuka is also quite the challenge, due to its unusual layout and eclectic mix of corners. It’s often described by drivers as being demanding and very unforgiving but also rewarding.
Suzuka started out life as a test track for Honda but was eventually turned into a race track and held its first F1 grand prix in 1987. The 3.6-mile circuit, which features a figure-of-eight layout, is known for its high speeds, with cars exceeding 200 mph at some points. Its surface is grippy and some sections very narrow, making overtaking hard.
Mercedes AMG at the 2016 Formula One Japanese Grand PrixEnlarge Photo
Weather can also be an issue this time of year, as we tragically saw in 2014 with the crash of Jules Bianchi. The current forecast calls for cloudy skies with periodic rain during Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race.
Pirelli has nominated its hard, medium and soft compounds.
At the close of Friday’s practice, Mercedes AMG’s Nico Rosberg topped the time sheets though was only a fraction of a second ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton. Ferrari’s [NYSE:RACE] Kimi Räikkönen was third fastest followed by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen in fourth.
Going into the weekend, Rosberg leads the 2016 Drivers’ Championship with 288 points. Hamilton is second with 265 points and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo is third with 204 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 553 points, while Red Bull is second with 359 points and Ferrari third with 313 points. Last year’s Japanese GP winner was Hamilton.