The Japanese Grand Prix moved to a new track this season – Toyota owned Fuji Speedway.
If you wonder, why the Fuji name, this is the reason:
The track is situated in a truly spectacular area with fascinating views of the Fuji Mountain (weather permitting), 1 and half to 2 hours away from Tokyo.
The fsw.tv website has pretty exhausting transportation access information. I do not plan to elaborate on that, but for visitors new to Japan coming to the track from Tokyo I would recommend the Odakyu Romance Car. Don’t get scared by the name, the Romance Car is in fact state of the art express train. Try to get a seat near the front of the first coach, and you can enjoy the ride this way:
The Fuji Speedway hosted the F1 race twice in the past – in 1976 and 1977. The infamous wet race in 1976 was won by Mario Andretti (Lotus-Ford). This was the race that Niki Lauda refused to finish (“my life is worth more than a title”). James Hunt won the tragedy marked race in 1977 (two people on the trackside were killed after accident involving Gilles Villeneuve). (F1 Fanatic has nice flashback to 1997 Fuji, head over there to read.) Fuji Speedway would have to wait 30 years for the Formula 1 to return.
The track was closed in 2003 on order to undergo some serious Tilke treatment. The new track layout features 12 corners and the longest straight on the calendar – 1,475 metres. The total length of the track is 4,563 metres and the altitude ranges between 545 to 580 metres. The race is planned for 67 laps.
Turn 1 – 27R
Turn 2 – 75R
Turn 3 – CocaCola Corner 80R
Turn 4 – 100R
Turn 5 – Hairpin Corner 30R
Turn 6 – 120R
Turn 7 – 300R
Turn 8 – Dunlop Corner 15R
Turn 9 – 30R
Turn 10 – 45R
Turn 11 – Netz Corner 25R
Turn 12 – Panasonic Corner 12R
Click her for the track video preview
The fact that this new track is far away means that almost none of the current F1 drivers ever raced there. Most of the drivers and teams can only use the computer data to simulate the conditions on the track. Most, not all. Both Spyker drivers (Sutil, Yamamoto) raced at Fuji Speedway in Japanese race competitions.
Besides the track characteristic, the other unknown is the weather. Spyker people for example expect Spa or Nurburgring like weather, sunny or pouring rain.
The expected crowd for the Sunday race is 140,000 people. The pretty good Fuji Speedway website has nice overview of all the grandstands and stand with photos and videos showing the view of the track. It is a pity there are no stands at the Turn 1 facing the long straight. From what is available, I would choose one of the following places to watch from:
Area C – Along the long straight, just before the turn 1
Area E – At the Coca Cola Corner, facing the Turn 2 also with view towards Turn 4
Area H – Near the shicane
Area N – At the Panasonic Corner (last turn), facing the start/finish line, watch the cars coming from Turn 11 to the last corner.
The Japanese GP Preview will continue with the Race Preview and look back to recent history of Japanese GP.
Read Also: Japanese GP Preview – Part 2 – Race Preview