Everything you need to know about the coming 2023 Japanese F1 GP
Formula 1 continues this weekend with a hard task for the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix, as the previous race was one of the best in the entire season. Can the excitement be replicated by the next race, that will take place this weekend in Suzuka?
|Table of Contents|
|1. Will Red Bull bounce back to dominance?|
|2. 2023 Japanese GP Facts & Figures|
|3. Suzuka Circuit Track info|
|4. 2023 Japanese GP - Tyre Compounds|
|5. 2023 Japanese GP - Weather Forecast|
|6. Who will be on the 2023 Japanese GP podium|
Will Red Bull bounce back to dominance?
The upcoming race will be the 16th Grand Prix of the 2021 F1 season, and the last race was the first in the entire season that Red Bull didn't dominate. Did Red Bull have its own version of Mercedes' Singapore disaster in 2015? Or were their issues related to Technical Directives made by the FIA regarding flexible wins and floors?
We should know the answers to those questions in Suzuka, but it is likely that Red Bull will be dominating the field again, as its advantage was too great to be erased quickly.
The Austrian team has another chance to seal the Constructors' title this weekend, needing to outscore Mercedes by at least one point and not be outscored by Ferrari by 24 points or more.
Red Bull (597 points) currently leads Mercedes (289) in the WCC by 308 points, and there will be 309 points available after this weekend's race (six races and three Sprints) to end the season.
Verstappen will not have a chance to seal his Drivers' title yet, but he has an incredible lead over his teammate Sergio Pérez in the"DC, having won 12 races in the season. Verstappen leads Pérez by 151 points (374 to 223), with Lewis Hamilton third for Mercedes with 180 points.
Fernando Alonso is fourth for Aston Martin with 170, and Carlos Sainz follows for Ferrari with 142 points. Sainz has been in Pole Position in the last two races and has a couple of podiums, including his tremendous win in Singapore, in that span.
2023 Japanese GP Facts & Figures
The 2023 Japanese Grand Prix is next in the Formula 1 calendar and the event will be the 36th Japanese round as part of the F1 World Championship.
The first World Championship Japanese Grand Prix took place at Fuji in 1976. Mario Andretti won the race for Lotus, and James Hunt famously won the Drivers' title for McLaren after Ferrari's Niki Lauda (as others did) withdrew due to the seemingly impossible weather conditions.
The race was again held at Fuji in 1977, with Hunt winning for McLaren in what was the final win of his career. Logistical issues meant the race was scrapped from the calendar and returned in 1987.
As in the first Grand Prix, title-deciding races became usual in Japan. Until today, the Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship has been decided 13 times in Japan, starting with Hunt in 1976 and Max Verstappen sealing the title in 2022.
Ayrton Senna reached his three titles (1988, 1990, and 1991) in Suzuka, which hosted the Japanese round since 1987 (Nelson Piquet did the same in the 1987 event).
Alain Prost also sealed one of his titles in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka (1989), while Damon Hill (1996), Mika Hakkinen (1998, 1999), Michael Schumacher (2000, 2003), Sebastian Vettel (2011), and Max Verstappen (2022) joined the list later.
Moreover, Schumacher sealed his 1995 title (his second with Benetton) at the Pacific Grand Prix, also held in Japan. Japan has seen a title decided 14 times in Formula 1 history, more than any other country since 1950 (Italy is second with 12).
Apart from some controversial title deciders and tremendous races for the championship, the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix stands out, with Kimi Raikkonen winning from 17th on the grid for his most famous win with McLaren.
In recent memory, Jules Bianchi's crash in the 2014 round is heart-breaking for Formula 1 fans, as the young French driver later died from his injuries.
The most recent event in Japan was won by Verstappen, leading a 1-2 for Red Bull in rainy conditions that produced a shortened race.
The most successful driver in the Japanese Grand Prix is Michael Schumacher with six wins (one with Benetton and five with Ferrari). Among the current racers, Hamilton leads with five wins in Japan (one in Fuji with McLaren and four at Suzuka with Mercedes). Sebastian Vettel was another multiple champion who was successful at Suzuka, winning four times for Red Bull between 2009 and 2013.
Among teams, McLaren leads with nine wins, ahead of Ferrari's seven and Mercedes' six. The most recent winners in Suzuka, Red Bull, have five wins.
Suzuka Circuit Track Info
Suzuka is one of the most beloved circuits in the world, with drivers and fans agreeing that it is one of the best race tracks in the history of motor racing.
The circuit's current layout is 5.807 km long with 18 corners. The twisty sectors and the high-speed sections of the track have remained quite similar since 1987, with some small changes made in certain corners and the last chicane, known as Casio Triangle, being moved further or closer to the 130R curve.
The track was 5.859 meters long in 1987 when it was introduced to F1, but small changes to make the sector-one corners faster and tighter have shortened the track a bit.
Suzuka has hosted the Japanese Grand Prix 32 times since 1987. It held the event without interruption from 1987 to 2006 and then returned in 2009. The 2007 and 2008 races were held at Fuji.
The 2020 and 2021 events were not held due to issues generated by the Covid-19 pandemic, while its return in 2022 presented a shortened race due to rainy weather and a dangerous situation at the start due to the FIA deploying a recovery vehicle while the Formula 1 cars were still on the track, which almost resulted in a huge crash for then AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly.
There will be one DRS zone in the event, as usual, in the main straight.
The current records around the 'Figure Eight' layout are the following:
Outright record: 1:27.064 min by Sebastian Vettel in 2019, driving the Ferrari SF90 at an average speed of 240,113 km/h.
Fastest Lap during a race: 1:30.983 min by Lewis Hamilton in 2019, driving the Mercedes W10 at an average speed of 229.770 km/h.
2023 Japanese Grand Prix - Tyres
The dry tyres for the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix will be the C1 as P Zero White hard, C2 as P Zero Yellow Medium, and C3 as P Zero Red soft.
Pirelli's Head of Motorsport, Mario Isola, explained the company's plans for the weekend: " The Japanese Grand Prix takes place on one of the most fascinating and demanding tracks in Formula 1 history: Suzuka, with its unique figure of eight layout. This historic venue is a drivers’ favourite, being absolutely thrilling to drive in today’s ultra-competitive single-seaters. With its very significant lateral and vertical loads, Suzuka is as demanding on tyres as it is on drivers.
These demands are equally distributed across all four wheels, with 10 right-handers and eight left-handers throughout the six-kilometre lap. As a result of these challenging characteristics, we bring some of the hardest tyres in the 2023 range to Japan: C1, C2, and C3. This is only nominally the same as last year's selection on account of the new C1 compound, which was introduced this season to slot in between the C2 and former C1 (now called C0).
On Friday, all the teams will get the chance to test a new version of the C2 compound, with a view to homologating it for next season. This latest evolution should provide more grip than the current C2, and so fit in more coherently between the C1 and C3. For the first two free practice sessions, each driver will have two additional sets of tyres, compared to the usual 13 sets per weekend. This test is part of a development programme that was recently defined for 2024 and will continue with a new C4 compound to be tested on track during the Mexican Grand Prix weekend.”
The minimum starting pressures for the tyres will be 25.0 PSI (front) and 23.0 PSI (rear).
2023 Japanese Grand Prix - Weather Forecast
Friday, Sep 22nd - FP1 & FP2
Conditions: Mostly cloudy and humid with a shower
Max. temperature: 28°C
Chance of rain: 55%
Saturday, Sep 23rd - FP3 & Qualifying
Conditions: Partly sunny, warm and humid
Max. temperature: 31°C
Chance of rain: 0%
Sunday, Sep 24th - Race
Conditions: Partly sunny and warm
Max. temperature: 30°C
Chance of rain: 3%
Who will be on the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix Podium?
It would be tremendous if Red Bull is back fighting at the front, especially if its car is closely matched with those who competed for victory in the Singapore Grand Prix.
Can Ferrari continue its good run since Monza? The Italian team has been in solid form with consecutive Pole Positions and a victory from Carlos Sainz in the last two races, and another fight for podium places in Japan could be in the cards for the Italian squad.
Of course, McLaren should be up there fighting, while Aston Martin needs to recover from a drop in performance after the race at Zandvoort which has seen the brand fall to fourth place in the World Constructors' Championship.
Mercedes is an interesting case, with its cars seemingly getting stronger near the end of races in recent events and showing solid pace. Of course, the German brand came close to winning the Singapore Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton being the fastest driver in the closing stages of the event.
The prediction for the top three of the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix is 1. Max Verstappen, 2. Fernando Alonso, 3. Lando Norris.
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