There are now only five rounds left in the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, and the next one is this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix which once again is being held at the legendary Suzuka Circuit.
Traditionally held towards the end of the season, the Japanese race is often considered a title decider. That could have been the case this year, though a recent series of misfortunes for Ferrari has left Mercedes-AMG and its star driver Lewis Hamilton in prime position for another title.
Title hopes aside, the Japanese race is made all-the-more exciting thanks to the Suzuka Circuit, originally a test track for Honda, it is a high-speed circuit famous for its figure-of-eight layout formed by a total of eighteen corners.
The first part, 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.
The surface is grippy but nevertheless there are very little run-off area for the drivers to consider. It therefore comes as no surprise that so many F1 legends dub Suzuka as one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar.
Weather can also be quite changeable in Japan this time of year. Looking at the forecast, there may be some brief showers during Saturday’s qualifying session but fine conditions are expected for Sunday’s race. Pirelli has nominated its medium, soft and supersoft tires for the weekend.
Going into the weekend, Hamilton leads the 2017 Drivers’ Championship with 281 points. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is second with 247 points and fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is third with 222 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes sits on 503 points versus the 385 of Ferrari and 270 of Red Bull Racing. Last year’s winner in Japan was Nico Rosberg driving for Mercedes.