Five Things to Know About the Japanese GP

Published on
02 Apr 2024
Est. reading time
3 Min

Get set for Round Four as we look ahead to our weekend in Suzuka

Williams Racing will be speeding around Suzuka as Formula 1 visits the only figure-of-eight circuit on its calendar this Sunday.
The Mie Prefecture track perfectly blends high, medium, and slow-speed corners, much to the delight of the drivers in the cockpit and the watching fans in the grandstands.
Are you fully prepared for our trip to the land of the rising sun? Here are five things to know ahead of the race.

A time before Suzuka

Japan has a longer F1 history than any other Asian country, and the Japanese GP was the only race on the continent until 1999.
Suzuka wasn't the only circuit to host Formula 1, though, and has 'only' welcomed the World Championship since 1987.
Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka Prefecture was the original home of the Japanese GP in 1976, where American Mario Andretti took the victory.
The circuit returned one year later in 1977 but then had a three-decade gap before F1's brief return in 2007 and 2008.
Another pair of F1 trips to a Japanese circuit came in 1994 and 1995 when Okayama (then named Aida) hosted the Pacific Grand Prix.
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Taking over Tokyo

Williams Racing began bringing Formula 1 to new places in 2022 with our Fan Zone experiences.
The popularity has had us expand how many locations the Fan Zone visits, and now Tokyo will have a week-long F1 presence as the country gets ready for the race.
Head down to Shibuya, where our free-to-enter Fan Zone will let you see the FW46 show car up close, enjoy simulator experiences, browse our merchandise, win prizes, and so much more.
We're at Zero Base, 2-5-8 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, between April 1 and April 7. We can't wait to see you!

Earlier than ever

The Japanese GP has typically occupied a spot later in the F1 year, around September or October.
As the sport looked to geographically group races for 2024 to help logistics in the longest season in history, Japan moved forward to a dramatically different date.
Last year's race on September 24 was the earliest in a year that Suzuka has held an F1 race, so jumping to April 7 is a significant change.
However, Japan has hosted the sport in April before, with the 1994 Pacific GP, where Ayrton Senna took his second pole position for Williams Racing.
Nonetheless, that race came on April 17, so 2024 will still be the earliest F1 action in Japan.

(Almost) One-of-a-Kind

You can't have a Japanese GP at Suzuka without a mention of the iconic crossover that turns the track into a figure-of-eight layout.
The bridge above the exit of Degner 2 is the only spot on the planet where you will ever see an F1 car pass over another at full racing speed.
Such a rare occurrence adds to the mythicism around Suzuka, and fans, understandably, love such a unique feature.
However, while Suzuka is the only F1 track that boasts a figure-of-eight design, the Abu Dhabi pit lane exit also sees a crossover point as cars head underneath the Turn 1 entry to emerge on track at Turn 3.

Test track origins

Formula 1 and Suzuka seem to go hand in hand, but the track predates any F1 Grand Prix appearances by 25 years.
The original commission for Suzuka came from Soichiro Honda, Honda's founder, to allow his company to improve its racing prowess and promote the Honda brand at its own test track.
World Championship racing arrived in the 1960s but with two-wheeled racing rather than four.
The investment paid off, and Honda saw home-circuit glory as Jim Redman rode to victory on both 350cc and 250cc Honda motorbike machinery.
MotoGP no longer visits Suzuka, leaving F1 and WEC as the most prestigious international motorsport championships to race at the superb circuit.
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