The Fuji International Speedway will host the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, circuit owner Toyota confirmed on March 24th, with an October date to be finalised. The Fuji track was opened in 1966 and hosted the Japanese GP in 1976 and 1977. The...
The Fuji International Speedway will host the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, circuit owner Toyota confirmed on March 24th, with an October date to be finalised. The Fuji track was opened in 1966 and hosted the Japanese GP in 1976 and 1977. The facilities were renovated last year and with its Grade 1 FIA license the Fuji Speedway is now certified to hold F1 races.
The deal to host the race was agreed with Formula One Administration (FOA) and Bernie Ecclestone commented: "We, at FOA, have the pleasure that Fuji Speedway, as the brand new venue nestled at the foot of the most majestic Mt. Fuji, will be the new home of Japanese F1 Grand Prix. We also have a good expectation that the F1 event there would be the opening of new era of Formula One history."
For the 1976 event, Niki Lauda arrived at the Mount Fuji track for the last race of the season with a three point lead over James Hunt in the championship standings. In appalling wet conditions, Lauda withdrew after three laps but Hunt battled on and eventually finished third to clinch the title -- Mario Andretti was the winner of the race.
Hunt won the race the following year but the event was marred by a crash which resulted in the death of two marshals. F1 would not return to Japan for ten years. In 1987 the Sepang circuit near Nagoya, which was originally built as a test track for Honda, hosted the Grand Prix and the race remained there up to and including this season.
In 1994 and 1995 Japan held two races; the second was named the Pacific Grand Prix and was hosted by the remote Aida circuit. Both races at Aida were won by Michael Schumacher, claiming his second world championship title with Benetton there in October '95. However the Aida track was too far away from the major cities to become a fixture on the calendar.
It's been suggested that Suzuka may have a place on the calendar next year with a similar second-race status as Aida previously had, but so far that's only speculation. The Japanese GP at Suzuka, which was won by McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen in 2005, is the penultimate round of this year's championship on October 8th.