F1 2016: Japanese Grand Prix Preview

Following the Malaysia Grand Prix, which saw the championship swing very firmly in Nico Rosberg’s favour, it is time for the Japanese Grand Prix – a firm favourite race amongst drivers and fans alike.

Daniel Ricciardo led home a Red Bull 1-2 in Malaysia when Lewis Hamilton’s engine blew, causing him to retire from the lead. Rosberg now leads the championship by 23 points having finished in third place.

Circuit: Suzuka
Number of Laps: 53
Circuit Length: 5.807km
Number of Corners: 18
Lap Record: 1:31.540 – Kimi Raikkonen (2005)
Previous Japanese Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 5
Most Successful Team: McLaren (9 wins)
DRS Zones: 1   
Pirelli Tyres: Hard, Medium and Soft

The Suzuka track is a unique figure of 8 configuration and features a number of high speed corners. Drivers spend about 65% of the lap at full throttle with 42 gear changes. There is a mix of fast, medium and slow corners with the only significant braking event happening at the chicane at the end of the lap. The track is narrow and features little run-off.  Like Malaysia, track temperatures and the threat of rain are something to consider over the weekend. As it’s an older established track, grip is high but with high levels of degradation.

McLaren are the most successful team at the Japanese Grand Prix but it is Hamilton and Mercedes who have won the last two races. Before that it was Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull who won two in a row. Red Bull were the best of the rest in Malaysia behind Mercedes, and took a 1-2 in the race when Hamilton retired. This is a track they have gone well at in the past so could be ones to watch this weekend.

Hamilton will be wanting to overcome his difficult weekend at the Malaysia Grand Prix and he is the form man at Suzuka. He had dominated qualifying and much of the race before his engine gave up on the 40th lap in Malaysia. Rosberg now leads the championship by 23 points – nearly a race victory – and with only five races in the year left, Hamilton will be wanting to start eating into that lead as soon as possible.

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