As F1 returns to Suzuka for the first time since 2019, here is a guide to everything you need to know ahead of 2022 Japanese Grand Prix.
This weekend marks F1’s first visit to Suzuka in three years following the Coronavirus pandemic and it could be a special return, as Max Verstappen looks to wrap up his second consecutive title at the circuit where he made his F1 debut as a FP1 driver in 2014.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc however will be eager to prolong the title fight whilst other teams continue to battle for position in the constructors’ championship.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda meanwhile will be participating in his home race for the first time as a F1 driver, making him the first Japanese driver since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014 to take part in the Japanese GP.
Now, here is everything that you need to know about the 2022 Japanese GP including key pointers and title permutations.
Circuit: Suzuka International Circuit
Race Distance: 305.573km
Tyre Compounds: C1, C2 & C3
|Friday 7 October||FP1||4:00am|
|Friday 7 October||FP2||7:00am|
|Saturday 8 October||FP3||4:00am|
|Saturday 8 October||Qualifying||7:00am|
|Sunday 9 October||Race||6:00am|
Three Key Pointers
- Given the tight and twisty characteristics of Suzuka mixed with various sized straights resulting in need for a high downforce setup, Mercedes again could be in the mix for a strong result.
- Having previously struggled with slow corners around Suzuka in the hybrid era, McLaren will be looking for improvement with their stronger car balance across various corner speeds.
- Rain is forecast to potentially linger across Friday Practice and race day which could create for a tricky weekend, with only FP3 and Qualifying looking set to be held in dry conditions.
Last Time Out
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic forcing the race to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021, F1’s last visit to Japan came in 2019 with Sebastian Vettel topping Qualifying – which was moved to Sunday morning due to Typhoon Hagibis – ahead of Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari front-row lockout.
Then-Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas however got a strong start from third to claim the lead and proceeded to take victory ahead of Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, whilst Leclerc finished sixth following damage from a first-lap collision which eventually eliminated Verstappen.
Both Renault cars meanwhile were disqualified post-race from sixth and tenth positions, after the cars were found to have used a “pre-set distance-dependent brake bias adjustment system” after a protest was lodged by Racing Point.
With a 104-point lead over Leclerc, Verstappen simply needs to outscore his title rival by eight points to secure an unassilable 112 point lead plus six points clear of Red Bull teammate – Sergio Perez, so here are the various title permutations.
If Verstappen finishes first with fastest lap, he will be crowned champion but a win would be enough if Leclerc finishes third or lower.
If Verstappen finishes second, Leclerc must finish sixth or higher to prolong the title fight to USA, although fifth would only be good enough if he also gets fastest lap. Perez can keep his title hopes alive with a top-four finish.
If Verstappen finishes third with fastest lap point, Leclerc must finish fifth or higher and Perez needs to finish fourth at minumum to roll the title fight over to USA.
If Verstappen finishes third, sixth place is required for Leclerc or fourth place for Perez will delay Verstappen’s title party.
If Verstappen finishes fourth, Leclerc needs to finish seventh at minimum irrespective of if Verstappen claims the point for fastest lap or not. Perez would need to finish sixth or seven with the point for fastest lap.
If Verstappen finishes fifth, Leclerc needs to finish eighth at minimum whilst Perez must finish in the top seven.
If Verstappen finishes sixth, he will be crowned champion if Leclerc fails to finish in the top ten. Perez would need to finish ninth or eighth with the point for fastest lap to keep the title race alive.
If Verstappen finishes seventh or lower, he won’t be crowned champion in Japan irrespective of what Leclerc or Perez achieve result wise.