Prior to last weekend’s 31st running of the Japanese Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher was statistically the best driver at Suzuka, and Sunday’s results did nothing to remove his name from that lofty position. The current venue is Suzuka, but did you know there are in reality 2 other GP venues in the country, and one that’s hosted the GO on four separate occassions? Everyone knows Fuji, but did you know the name of the other track? It’s TC Circuit Aida. By the way Fuji held the inaugural running of the Japanese GP.
Suzuka is a favorite among drivers and for good reason, it’s challenging that rewards drivers who are able to get it right. But how? Next to Spa this circuit offers more technical challenges, and potentially higher rates of speed in a combination that is not readily available at many other venues. And it’s commonly accepted that “130R” is in contention for the most challenging-rewarding corner. The moniker describes the 130 meter radius turn. The others in the running for that honor include Parabolica at Monza and Eau Rouge at Spa. And that’s without saying anything about the first two turns leading into the “esses”. It’s a track that rewards drivers who get it right, and can quickly end their day if they do not respect it’s technical challenges. Having said that let’s dig into yesterday’s running.
Mercedes occupied the first row with Nico Rosberg landing on the pole, Red Bull occupied the 2nd row, and the American team, Haas, made season debuts on rows 4 and 5. Before this race it was unlikely that anyone other than those on the front row had a chance of winning, and almost no one from the second row had won. This race didn’t change the stats for winning with Nico Rosburg winning, Max Verstappen claiming a 2nd place, and Lewis Hamilton snagged the last podium spot to manage the point differential with his teammate and keep his championship hopes alive, at least theoretically. All in all all 22 cars that started finished the race, and by and large it was a solid race with only a few close calls.