The mere mention of Suzuka sets drivers' pulses racing. This fabulous race track offers every type of corner in the book - from the spectacular esses after the start, to the challenging Spoon curve and the tight hairpin, all the way to the high-speed 130R. For three years almost to the day, drivers have had to forego the unique thrills of this circuit while Formula One was hosted by Fuji. 2009 sees the Japanese Grand Prix return to Suzuka this coming Sunday, 4th October.
"I am really looking forward to going racing in Suzuka again. The circuit is one of the most exciting tracks to drive on - for me it is one of the best circuits in the world. There are a lot of really challenging high-speed corners, especially the 130R which is really fast. The fans there are fantastic. In 2006 a lot of them in the grandstands stayed at the circuit until very late in the night. They are really passionate and enjoy Formula One a lot."
"I'm thrilled that my favourite Formula One circuit is back on the calendar. It will be interesting to see what changes it has in store for us. I know the track has been partly resurfaced, and there's always the possibility of the forces of nature intervening - we've already had an earthquake and a close call with a typhoon. The weather is always an issue and there's been torrential rain often enough in Suzuka. It's quite a long circuit, very varied, and it flows beautifully. The first section with its double-apex right-hander and sequence of esses is really superb. But you have to get into the flow properly; if you make a mistake in one turn, you'll mess up all the rest.
"I really enjoy going to Japan. The first time round I didn't immediately take to it, but since then I've become a great fan. I just love the food and the unique atmosphere. I'll be spending a few days in Tokyo ahead of the race in Suzuka."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:
"It's one race chasing the next on the home straight of the 2009 Formula One season. Seven days after the night race in Singapore we've got the next round in Suzuka, Japan, which completes the back-to-backs in a region that is extremely important for the BMW Group.
"This circuit is one of the most challenging for the drivers, making it a real favourite among them and the fans. A well-balanced car is a must in Suzuka. But it's a tough track for the engine experts as well: in the ultra-fast 130R turn you get lateral acceleration forces of up to 6g and it's essential the oil keeps flowing."
Willy Rampf, Head of Engineering:
"With its many fast corner combinations, the Suzuka Circuit is one of the most challenging in the Formula One calendar. The gradients also contribute to making this a true race track. The esses in the first sector are crucial to lap times: you can lose a lot of time there if you don't follow the ideal line. It's a unique sector, no other Formula One circuit has anything like it. There's also the tight hairpin, but the dominant feature are the medium and high-speed corners. It's a real contrast to Singapore's city circuit which has more of a stop-go rhythm. That's why the car's balance is so important in Suzuka. As for configuration, we'll be setting the car up with a high downforce level similar to that in Singapore."
History and background:
2009 marks the 21st Japanese Grand Prix to be staged at Suzuka. Formula One debuted at the track in 1987; prior to that two Japanese Grands Prix were held in 1976 and 1977 at the circuit below Mount Fuji, which also hosted the Formula One events in 2007 and 2008. In 1994 and 1995 the Pacific GP was held at Japan's Aida circuit.
The 2004 Japanese Grand Prix remains seared in the memory of the teams who were there. On the Saturday the track was completely closed off due to an approaching typhoon, which eventually made landfall elsewhere. Amid heavy downpours on Friday, the teams had packed up and secured all their equipment. The all-clear came on Saturday afternoon and qualifying was held on Sunday morning. Formula One had already had a taste of natural forces at Suzuka in 2000 when the mild aftershocks of an earthquake could be felt during free practice.
The Suzuka Circuit is the only F1 track designed in a figure 8. It is located in the middle of a large leisure park dominated by its hallmark Ferris wheel.
The city of Suzuka lies on the southeast coast of Japan's main island of Honshu and belongs to the Mie Prefecture. The car manufacturer Honda has major production plants in this city of 200,000 inhabitants. Its European twin city likewise has a strong automotive connection: Le Mans in France.
-credit: bmw sauber