- Melbourne, Australia
- Sepang, Malaysia
- Shanghai, China
- Sakhir, Bahrain
- Montmelo, Spain
- Monte Carlo, Monaco
- Montreal, Canada
- Silverstone, Great Britain
- Nürburg, Germany
- Budapest, Hungary
- Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
- Monza, Italy
- Yeongam, South Korea
- Suzuka, Japan
- New Delhi, India
- Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
- Austin, U.S.A.
- Sao Paolo, Brazil
Select flag for Mark's preview
13 Oct 2013 Suzuka, Suzuka Circuit
The first sector is very famous, going up the hill through the Esses. It’s one of the best places in the world to watch an F1 car.
Then, after Degner 2, we go under a bridge and you can watch us go up into the Hairpin and also you can watch us come back, before we go into 130R.
Turn 1: downhill, 260kph, 6th gear. You need commitment into here.
Turns 3 – 7: the snake, through which the minimum speed of the car doesn’t drop below 185kph. You know you’re in an F1 car through these high-speed changes of direction.
Turn 8: there’s a bump on the apex here, which really unsettles the car. If you’re running the car too low, you can find yourself off the track almost before you know it.
Turn 13: the corner drops away at the exit, so you have to be very precise. A long straight follows, so it’s important to get the power on early.
Turn 15: not such a challenging corner since it was eased a few years back, but it’s still very fast and you certainly know about it in the wet.
||13 Oct 2013
|No. of laps
||1:31.540 – K. Raikkonen (2005)
The cars are going to be exceptionally quick at Suzuka this year. The technical regulations are largely unchanged from 2012 and the improvements that each team has made will really show at a fast, aero-sensitive track like this. The Esses and Spoon are going to be sensational.
The track is pretty much unchanged from when it was built in 1962, so you can really feel the history of the place. There’s always a fantastic atmosphere because the fans are very passionate and very knowledgeable; they know things like my date of birth and they give me bizarre gifts.
As for the lay-out, it’s brilliant. The elevation changes aren’t that obvious on TV, but there are some very steep sections, particularly through the first sector. The approach to Turn 1 is steep downhill and you then head uphill through the Esses, which is a sensational series of corners. You’re constantly changing direction at high speed and you need your car to be well balanced.
The first time that you’re travelling slowly on the lap is at the Hairpin, which is Turn 11. You have a slight breather there, but you’re soon travelling fast again, through Spoon, 130R and back towards the chicane. The track’s narrow, so you’ve got to be very accurate. I would dearly love to add this race to my list of wins because it’s one of the Blue Riband events on the calendar.
While I’ve always loved Suzuka, I was never a big fan of Japan until 2011. I spent some time with Jenson [Button] and his girlfriend Jessica [Michibata] in Tokyo after the race that year and we had a great time. Now I look forward to going back each year.
AS A MATTER OF FACT…
- Mark first became aware of Suzuka while watching the Aussie motorcycling greats of the ’80s competing in the Suzuka 8 Hours.
- Mark won his first race at Suzuka in 1998, when he took victory in the 1,000km sportscar race with Bernd Schneider for Mercedes Benz.
- Prior to Mark’s second place finish in the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix, his best F1 result at Suzuka was fifth, for Williams in 2005.
- Suzuka Circuit is the only F1 track on the 2013 calendar to be owned by a car company.
Honda built it in 1962 as a test track for its road cars and motorbikes.
- Suzuka is the only F1 track to run in a figure-of-eight. It has 10 right-handers and eight left-handers.