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Circuit Suzuka
Date 05.10.2014
Laps 44 – Race stopped due to the accident of Jules Bianchi and bad weather
Distance 255,208 km / 158,612 miles
No Driver Ferrari S/N Team Result
7 Kimi Raikkonen F14 T 308 Scuderia Ferrari 12.
           
14 Fernando Alonso F14 T  307 Scuderia Ferrari retired / electrics

 

Japanese GP – A sad Sunday in Suzuka

Posted: 05.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Marco Mattiacci: “For our team, this weekend was unfortunately characterized by reliability problems, yesterday on Kimi’s car and today on Fernando’s. With Kimi, we paid the price for not having been able to get his car configured as well as possible in the third free practice session. That meant he suffered with balance problems throughout the race. Today, with Fernando, we had a bit more of a chance and what happened today just underlines the fact that we must improve the car. However, at the moment, all this is of secondary importance and all our thoughts are only with Jules Bianchi.”

Fernando Alonso: “It was a real shame losing the opportunity to take part in this race because, with nothing to lose in terms of the championship, I could have taken a few more risks and maybe aimed for the podium. I still don’t know what caused the unfortunate technical problem, only that suddenly, the car lost all its electrics, maybe down to a short circuit caused by the rain. Now, in the four remaining races, the priority is still to pick up as many points as possible, because we are still aiming for third place in the Constructors’ classification. On that front, it could be good that we can count on using this engine which did hardly any distance today, thus not having to use a new one which would mean starting one of the remaining races from the pit lane. However, the only good news we want right now relates to Jules Bianchi. I hope that we hear very soon that he’s alright.”

Kimi Raikkonen: “Overall, this was a very disappointing weekend. I had set-up problems right from the first day and again today in the race I didn’t manage to drive the way I would have liked. After the start behind the Safety Car, the track conditions were pretty atrocious and visibility was very poor, but my car was handling okay. Then, when the rain eased, I fitted the Intermediate tyres, but after a few laps, they were no longer up to temperature and they began to give me problems at the front end, which meant I had to slow down. Now, we will try and resolve this problem as quickly as possible and aim to improve, starting with the very next race, but more importantly right now, let’s hope we get some good news about Jules Bianchi soon.”

Pat Fry: “It’s disappointing to finish the weekend without scoring points, but our biggest concern tonight is what happened to Jules Bianchi. We still don’t know much but it looked very serious. As for our race, Fernando’s only lasted a couple of laps, probably because of a problem with the electrical system, however we will need to wait until we have the car back for confirmation. Kimi’s main problem was graining on the front tyres. At the pit stop he lost valuable time because of a problem with the front right, but even without that, I think his finishing position wouldn’t have been that much different. Today’s conditions were definitely not easy and what happened here highlights just how important it is to work on the reliability of the car.”

Race
Pos. Time Gap Laps FL L
ALONSO NC       6:19.243 DNF 2
Pit-stop 1st stop Lap 2 New  Extreme Wet
RAIKKONEN 12th 1:51:49.838 + 1 lap 437..111 1.52.426 36
Pit-stop 1st stop Lap 2 New  Extreme Wet
2nd stop Lap 11 New Intermediate
3rd stop Lap 23 New Intermediate
4th stop Lap 34 Old Extreme Wet
Weather: air 19/20 °C, track 23/32 °C. Rain

 

Japanese GP – A lap of Suzuka with Kimi and Fernando

Posted: 04.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Maranello, 4 October – Suzuka is one of the most spectacular tracks of the season, one of the most complicated and, as a result, a real favourite with the drivers. Here, the abilities of car and driver are put to the test, from the fast “esses” to the long straights and the two demanding braking zones at the hairpin and the final chicane, the scene of many controversial incidents in the past.

Both Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso have won here at Suzuka and are therefore well used to the characteristics of this track. The Ferrari licensee, Carrera, leader in the production of the latest generation of electric racing tracks, had the idea of giving the two drives the opportunity to “try” the track on a layout put up with in the Logistics building in Maranello, with a miniature model of the Japanese track. With help from their respective performance engineers – Edoardo Brosco for Fernando and Giuliano Salvi for Kimi – the two men battled it out in an exciting taster of what they can expect when the tackle the race for real tomorrow, Sunday.

 

Japanese GP – Welcome back Hiroshi

Posted: 04.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Suzuka, 4 October – Back marshaling at Suzuka this weekend is Hiroshi Honda, who was injured in an accident at the second round of last season’s Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific series at this track. Along with fellow marshals, here working at the fifteenth round of the Formula 1 World Championship, Hiroshi received gifts from Ferrari’s Director of Racing Activity, Antonello Coletta, before posing for a group photo in front of the Scuderia Ferrari garage.

 

Japanese GP – The track never lies

Posted: 04.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso: “I’ve often ended up fifth in qualifying, but I think that today’s result can be seen in a different light as I enjoyed myself a lot out on track, both in the quick parts and the slower ones. So far, this weekend has been very positive as I had a good feeling from the car right from the first lap of free practice. Unfortunately, the typhoon expected tomorrow is creating a bit of tension, because over the past two days, we haven’t done any wet running and having to do the opening lap of the race itself in the rain always complicates matters. Currently, we don’t know how much rain we can expect, so all we can do is prepare for a difficult race, because Suzuka is a circuit where, even in the dry, incidents can occur and it’s easy to make mistakes. I think that later today, the race director might take a decision regarding this, with the possibility of bringing the race forward.”

Kimi Raikkonen: “Today’s performance was in line with the whole weekend so far and even if I’ve had a good feeling from the car, I was unable to resolve a few problems already encountered on Friday. In the morning’s free practice, a technical problem meant I had to stop running earlier than planned and that prevented us from testing some new components, which would have been useful for the set-up choice. The team did a great job to get my car ready for qualifying in record time. In the first sector, I had a few balance problems and that stopped me pushing as hard as I wanted. I did my best today and tomorrow we will try and make up some places and have a good race.”

Pat Fry: “Today was particularly tough, starting with the third free practice session, when we had to pit Kimi, having spotted an anomaly on his power unit. Qualifying was reasonably straightforward, especially for Fernando, who finished fifth in all three sessions. The Williams proved to have both good power and aerodynamic downforce, but that won’t stop us trying to attack them. The Red Bull performance was surprising but one cannot discount them at this track. Unfortunately, the problem on Kimi’s car meant we couldn’t optimise the balance on his car, which is so important at this track, but the mechanics did a really amazing job. In just two hours they managed to dismantle and reassemble the car, configuring a new power unit, so that he could take part in qualifying. Tomorrow, a typhoon is forecast and so we will need to adapt to whatever conditions arise, because the result of the race is not a foregone conclusion.”

ALONSO – Chassis 307 Raikkonen – Chassis 308

Q1

P5

1:34.497

New Hard – 4 laps P7

1:34.984

New Hard – 4 lapsNew Medium – 3 laps

Q2

P5

1:33.675

New Medium – 3 lapsNew Medium – 3 laps

P9

1:34.771

New Medium – 3 lapsNew Medium – 3 laps

Q3

P5

1:33.740

New Medium – 3 lapsNew Medium – 3 laps

P10

1:34.548

New Medium – 3 laps
Weather: 26 °C, track 37 °C. Sunny

 

Japanese GP – Rows 3 and 5 for Scuderia Ferrari

Posted: 04.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Suzuka, 4 October–Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will start tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix from the third and fifth rows respectively. At the wheel of their F14 Ts, Fernando was fifth fastest, while Kimi had to settle for tenth, paying the price of lost track time because of technical glitches in Free Practice 3.

Fernando made it through Q1 in a comfortable fifth place, while Kimi had to use a set of Mediums which meant he couldn’t count on them for Q3. Everything went smoothly for both men in Q2 with Fernando fifth again and Kimi ninth. In the final shoot-out, all the drivers except Kimi did two runs on the Medium. Fernando’s first lap was a 1.33.858, which he then improved on, getting down to 1.33.740, to take yet another fifth place. On his only flying lap, Kimi did a 1.34.548.

Pole position went to Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes with a 1.32.506, while his team-mate Lewis Hamilton was second. The second row features the Williams duo of Bottas and Massa, while Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) starts alongside Alonso. On the fourth row, we find the McLarens of Magnussen and Button, followed by Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) alongside Raikkonen. The race starts at 3pm (08h00 CET.)

 

Japanese GP – Mixed fortunes for Scuderia Ferrari

Posted: 04.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Suzuka, 4 October–Scuderia Ferrari had mixed fortunes in the third free practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso was third fastest, while Kimi Raikkonen’s session came to a premature end with a technical problem.

Fernando completed a total of 12 laps, the best in a time of 1.34.439, set on the Medium tyres, the softer of the two Pirelli compounds in use here. Kimi however only managed five laps before stopping with a problem that meant the team changed the power unit as a precautionary measure prior to qualifying. His best time, set on Hard tyres, was a 1.35.995, good enough for 12th fastest come the end of the 60 minutes. Ahead of Fernando were the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg with a 1.33.228 and Lewis Hamilton in 1.34.210. Qualifying starts at 2pm (07h00 CET.)

 

Japanese GP – Question over the weather

Posted: 03.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso: “It’s always nice running at Suzuka, as it’s one of the circuits that provides the most driving pleasure and where the enthusiasm of the fans is really fantastic. Despite the many interruptions to the second session, today we managed to complete almost our entire planned programme without any problems, working on race set-up for both dry and wet conditions. At the moment, the uncertain weather forecast makes it impossible to take any decision, even when it comes to tyre choice. Here, compared to other tracks, the difference between the two compounds is minimal and their performance level is very similar.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Today wasn’t easy and the lack of grip from the track surface, especially in the morning, didn’t help. This is a fast and tough track, very demanding for both car and driver. In the first practice session, on the Hard tyres, we concentrated on testing different set-ups aimed at qualifying and the race, then in the afternoon, we made some changes which brought a partial improvement to the handling of the car. But because of the yellow flags and a technical glitch, I only managed to complete just one good run on the Medium tyres. Now we have a full night’s work ahead of us in order to find a set-up that will allow us to get the car to suit any sort of condition.”
Pat Fry: “Suzuka is one of the nicest and most complex circuits on the Formula 1 calendar, with every corner representing a challenge. Therefore it’s very important to find a set-up that gives the drivers as much confidence as possible. In the first session, we worked on the balance of the car, trying to adapt to the low grip levels, while the second session was spoiled by several yellow and red flags and we didn’t manage to make the most of the time available to work on our programme. Suzuka is also one of the most demanding tracks for the tyres, which are put under a lot of pressure by the series of consecutive corners and the heavy lateral loads which never allow for a moment’s rest, from Spoon to the 130R. Today, it’s difficult to assess the order behind the two Mercedes, but we will have to pay very close attention to the weather, because the forecast is changing all the time and at the moment it seems it’s going to play its part.”

 

Japanese GP – Weather worries

Posted: 03.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Suzuka, 3 October – There is no such thing as a “normal” day at Suzuka, because this 5.807 kilometre long track presents so many difficult yet fascinating challenges. But in as much as everything proceeded quite smoothly in the Scuderia Ferrari camp, this could be seen as a normal Friday, during which both drivers felt they had got off on the right foot. Apart from a small technical glitch on Kimi Raikkonen’s car, both F14 Ts were trouble free as the Finn and team-mate Fernando Alonso reacquainted themselves with this unusual figure-of-eight layout. What did upset the Ferrari programme was the misfortune of others, as crashes and mechanical breakdowns led to more than usual yellow and even red flags being waved, to stop the action while cars were towed away. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi had the most dramatic accidents, fortunately without injury for either man.

At the end of the day, the Finn was sixth fastest, having completed a total of 38 laps, while the Spaniard was seventh with 45 laps to his name.

At the front of the Friday “grid” we find the usual Mercedes duo, Nico Rosberg having topped the time sheet in FP1 and championship leader Lewis Hamilton fastest in the afternoon. Between these pair and Kimi in FP2 came the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, with Jenson Button fourth for McLaren and Sebastian Vettel fifth for Red Bull Racing.

As has often been the case in Japan, the weather is the main talking point at the moment, with Typhoon Phanfone due to hit mainland Japan with considerable force on Sunday and Monday. There has even been talk of changing the start time of the race, but at the moment, no decision has been made. Tomorrow’s qualifying is expected to be run in the dry.

 

Japanese GP – Scuderia Ferrari drivers sixth and seventh

Posted: 03.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Suzuka, 3 October–Kimi Raikkonen ended the second free practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix having set the sixth fastest time of 1.36.529 this afternoon. Fernando Alonso was right behind him with a 1.36.637. The Finn completed 19 laps, while the Spaniard did 26.

Both Ferrari men did their quickest laps on the Medium tyre, which Pirelli has matched this weekend with the Hard. The afternoon saw Kimi and Fernando continue with the work of setting up the car, keen to acquire as much data as possible on a track that has proved yet again to be tricky and difficult to tackle, with several drivers going off the track.
Fastest was Lewis Hamilton with a 1.35.078, two and a half tenths quicker than Mercedes team-mate and rival Nico Rosberg. Next up was Valtteri Bottas (Williams,) followed by Jenson Button (McLaren) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull.)

Free practice 3 gets underway tomorrow at 11 am (04h00 CET) with qualifying at 2pm (07h00.)

 

A question of feeling

Posted: 02.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Maranello, 2 October- “ I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Suzuka is my favourite circuit!” That’s what the Scuderia’s test driver, Pedro de la Rosa told www.ferrari.com about the Japanese track. “I’ve got a host of memories from Japan, because I raced there, moving up the ranks in many categories, winning the Formula 3 championship in 1995. I think the Japanese track is the hardest on the calendar. In Suzuka you only really touch the brake pedal at three points and then you need to use it as little as possible for the rest of it. The car has to literally dance through the corners at high speed and it’s not at all simple, given how narrow the track is. That’s what strike you most the first time you tackle Suzuka: the track is terribly quick and narrow at the same time.”

Under pressure. “For a driver, it’s a very difficult track,” continues Pedro. “You need to be extremely precise in how you tackle the kerbs at the quick corners, without compromising the next ones. You want plenty of front downforce to have a car that allows you to change direction quickly, something that’s essential at this track. Suzuka requires a special type of brake disc material, one that works well even at low temperatures: the brakes are used only a little and therefore it’s vital that the system operating the discs is not too cold.”

Overtaking on the limit. “Overtaking has always been very complicated at Suzuka,” concludes Pedro. “In the quick corners, the drivers tend to stay on the inside and to overtake, you have to take the risk of going round the outside, which is never ideal. Now, with DRS, there are a few more opportunities, but it’s still very difficult.”

 

Japanese GP – Raikkonen: “I believe 100% in the people at Ferrari”

Posted: 02.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Suzuka, 2 October – After the last race, Kimi Raikkonen stated he felt he and the team had turned a corner in how he felt at the wheel of the F14 T and today, in his regular press meeting, in the Suzuka paddock, the Ferrari man elaborated on that topic. “We have improved race by race and my feeling has improved, but it’s hard to be very specific about just why I felt better,” began the Finn. “In Singapore, we had some new parts and they helped, when combined with the tyres we were using and the characteristics of the circuit. It was probably the best feeling I’ve had from the car all year. It felt kind of easy to drive again. Once you get that, everything gets much easier and hopefully we keep going in this direction, with that improvement showing itself under all conditions.”

Kimi is now keen to build on this new found confidence in the car. “I knew it would take time, we made changes at the front end and the rear end too” he revealed. “It has helped the ride of the car, making it more to my liking. Singapore was the best it’s been all year and I knew what to expect in every corner. There are still a lot of areas where we can improve to get things the way I want, but it’s never been a case of not knowing what to do. It’s just that it takes time to change certain things. I have not had to change my driving style. Changing would not make me go any faster. I can drive around some issues, but I know that is never as good as fixing the issues. I’ve been in Formula 1 quite a few years and I have never changed my driving style, nor will I, because it’s not the way to fix problems.”

Kimi was equally positive when it came to looking ahead past the end of this season. “We have a good group of people at the factory and they have changed certain things to ensure that the mistakes which happened in the past years won’t happen anymore,” he said. “I believe a hundred percent in the people at Ferrari and the fact that we can turn it around and put the team where it should be, at the front of the field. As for myself, I have a contract and therefore no worries about my future.”

 

Japanese GP – Alonso: “Ferrari is the best team in the world”

Posted: 02.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Suzuka, 2 October – There are talks of a typhoon hitting Suzuka later this weekend, but it was just grey and damp this afternoon as Fernando Alonso had his usual meeting with the media in Scuderia Ferrari’s team hospitality tent.

In Singapore, the Scuderia Ferrari man was clearly upset at the rumours flying around about his future, but although the topic was the same today, the man from Oviedo seemed to actually quite enjoy sparring with the media: “You can ask the questions, but you cannot answer them for me,” he laughed when one journalist kept pushing him to say what were his future plans.

“I live for my job and I prepare myself from 1st January to 31st December and with Ferrari’s it’s special, because this is the best team in the world,” stated Fernando when asked to elaborate on his future options. “For five years, I have given my all on the track and the numbers show that. But off the track also my number one priority has been the team, doing the best for Ferrari. I live in the real world, so I am aware of all the rumours. But my first priority is working for the team, to help in the fight with Williams in the championship. My second priority is my future, but there is nothing new on this subject since last year, since July and now even in October there is no news. So, as I said earlier, I always put the interests of the team and of the tifosi and of this brand that is Ferrari and is bigger than any one of us, before my own interests.”

Pressed still further, the Ferrari man admitted that winning races and titles was still his priority. “I am a very competitive person and I want to win, which is something, I have wanted since I was ten years old and starting karting at a professional level. I want to win and am ready to maximise my performance at what I think is the best moment of my career. I hope I can get the benefit of this in the next few years, adding some titles, retiring with more than two. But you never know.”

Alonso brought his conference to a close with a statement that would not seem out of character in the works of the Japanese Samurai that he admires so much. “At the end of the day you have an idea in your mind and my mind is already set. I’ve been extremely lucky to choose where I drive in Formula 1, to choose my own future, which is not the norm. I will do my best, together with Ferrari’s best, taking the minimum risk.”

 

Kimi’s thoughts on Suzuka

Posted: 01.10.2014
Source: Ferrari

Maranello, 1 October – Kimi Raikkonen was in buoyant mood after the Singapore Grand Prix. The Scuderia Ferrari man’s good humour was down to the fact he felt he had made a significant step forward in getting his F14 T to behave the way he likes his racing cars to feel. “In Singapore, we finally had the speed to put together a quick single flying lap in qualifying, as the car behaved the way I’d been hoping for,” the Finn told www.ferrari.com. “It was just a shame we could not maximise the performance of the car because of a minor issue before the last flying lap. It meant we could not do much in the race, as I was stuck in traffic and couldn’t exploit my pace. But for me, the positive thing that weekend was I finally had a good feeling from the car, something I had been waiting for a long time this year.”
After the streets of Singapore, the Formula 1 circus heads for one of the classic venues and you don’t need to know much about Kimi Raikkonen to realise that Suzuka is just the sort of track he loves. “It’s a high power circuit, but also technically very challenging,” continues the Ferrari man. “So we are looking forward to see how our car goes there compared to the front running teams. I like Suzuka a lot. It’s an old-school type of racing circuit, the sort that always gives me the best feeling. I’d have to say my favourite is Spa-Francorchamps, but Suzuka comes very near in my ranking.”
The Finn has mainly positive memories of his nine appearances at Suzuka (the Japanese GP took place in Fuji in 2007 and ’08 and Kimi had his two year F1 sabbatical in 2010 and ’11.) “Apart from my first ever time in Japan and Suzuka, when I was driving for Sauber and had to retire after crashing with Alesi, I have finished every single race in Japan and I have got some really good results, as well. Winning the 2005 race was one of my best ever drives.”
Raikkonen has a huge fan base in Japan, something the Ferrari man really appreciates. “Driving the Suzuka track is one of the highlights of the season. And I also like meeting the fans there: they are very passionate and they always support you, no matter how the season has gone up to that point.” Apart from hopes of a good result for himself, Raikkonen knows how important the remaining races are for the Scuderia. “We need a good result in our fight for third place in the constructors’ championship. Let’s hope we get a nice clean weekend. That would help to keep the good feeling we so much want to maximise in Suzuka.”

 

Japanese GP – Allison: “To learn what lessons we can”

Posted: 30.09.2014
Source: Ferrari

It’s in Asia, it’s name starts with an “S,” and it also boasts a Big Wheel overlooking the track, but that’s where the similarities between Formula 1’s last appointment in Singapore and its next one in Suzuka begin and end.

While Singapore is a tricky, twisty street circuit, Suzuka is one of the finest examples of a true road course, with fast flowing turns, mixed in with a few idiosyncratic corners like the never-ending hairpin and the final chicane. “In Singapore, I think Mercedes probably had a bit more pace in hand, so that brought the front of the grid a bit closer together than normal,” says Scuderia Ferrari’s Technical Director, James Allison. “Also, it’s a track where the engine has a smaller effect compared with nearly all of the other tracks this year, so that provided another opportunity for the field to close up a bit. And finally, the nature of the corners at Singapore are also sensitive to the amount of mechanical grip that you can get from your package. That’s certainly an area where Ferrari has been working recently and it allowed us to have a rather better weekend.”

In another words, Japan is likely to be a more probing test for the F14 T. “Suzuka is a track where the importance of having horsepower is just a little bit less than the average for the year, so while power is not super important here, it’s not unimportant either,” continues Allison. “But it’s a track where a good handling chassis with a high amount of downforce is rewarded very strongly. Cars which score well on both those points will of course be right up at the front. But it gives some space to prosper to a car which is sweet handling and reasonable on downforce. Suzuka is one of the all-time great circuits, with some of the most challenging corners, one of the biggest tests of the car in the whole year, because it doesn’t just ask of the car that it can go well in the fast “S” complex in the first sector of the track, but there are also slow corners, long straights and all manner of ways to reveal the weakness of either the car or the driver. A team that comes back from Suzuka having done well knows that they are a good team with a strong package.” Tyre management will also play a key role as usual: because of the abrasive nature of the track surface, the long corners and the many rapid changes of direction, which generate a lot of lateral energy, Pirelli will be bringing its hardest compounds, the Hard and the Medium. Although not a deal breaker, the F14 T usually performs best on softer rubber.

As to the Scuderia’s goals for this weekend, our Technical Director reckons they are twofold. “We left Singapore with some satisfaction that areas we’d been working on the car, to improve its mechanical grip for example, appear to be paying off for us,” concludes the Englishman. “So we go to Suzuka and the remaining races determined to close the gap to Williams and then try and actually pull ahead of them, with the aim of securing a third place in the championship. We also plan to learn what lessons we can during the remainder of this season, to help guide us for the following year.”

 

Battle in the land of the Rising Sun

Posted: 29.09.2014
Source: Ferrari

Maranello, 29 September – This Sunday’s race will be the thirtieth Japanese Grand Prix. It has only been held at two circuits, at Fuji four times and Suzuka on 25 occasions. Ferrari has come out on top seven times, making for a 24% hit rate.

Starting on the wrong foot. Formula 1 made its Japanese debut in 1976 as the final race and it produced the key moment of the season. Niki Lauda had returned to racing in record time following his terrible accident at the Nurburgring and the Austrian had a three point lead over McLaren’s James Hunt. On the day of the race, a terrible downpour hit the Fuji track and Lauda chose to pull out after just two laps. Hunt had nothing to lose and carried on, eventually coming home third, which was good enough to give him the title by a single point.

The famous figure of eight. After one more race at Fuji, Japan dropped off the Formula 1 radar. Only in 1987, on the back of Honda’s success, did the Circus return to the Land of the Rising Sun, at the Suzuka track, owned by the Japanese car manufacturer, which boasted a famous figure-of-eight layout. The first race at its new home proved propitious for Ferrari, with Gerhard Berger taking the win in the F1-87.
The Senna-Prost era. For the next few years, Suzuka became one of the focal points of the title fight, with the battle featuring the same two protagonists, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. In 1988, Senna had a terrible getaway off the line, but then caught up with his French team-mate and passed him to take his first title. The following year, the two McLaren drivers collided at the final chicane and this time, the title went to Prost. Now, the differences between the two men were irreconcilable and Prost moved to Ferrari for 1990. There was a season-long entertaining head to head between the two archrivals, who arrived in Suzuka with the Brazilian enjoying a slight lead in the points. In order to keep his championship chances alive, Prost had to finish ahead of Senna, who had secured pole. At the start, the Frenchman got away first, but the Brazilian speared into Prost at the first corner, in revenge for the year before, much to the annoyance of the Ferrari fans.

Red dawn after the disappointments. At the end of the Nineties, the Scuderia was a contender once again in Suzuka, mainly due to the efforts of Michael Schumacher. In 1997, Jacques Villeneuve was disqualified, while Michael won, to go into the lead of the Championship, although it slipped from his grasp in the final race at Jerez. In 1998 and ’99 came two more disappointments for the Maranello team. In the former, Schumacher had to make up four points on Finland’s Mika Hakkinen in the McLaren. Michael took pole, but stalled the engine on the grid and had to start from the back. He fought his way up to third, but on lap 31, a tyre blew up, putting an end to his chase. The following year, it was Eddie Irvine who was in the hunt for the title, but again it went to Hakkinen. However, Ferrari was able to celebrate taking the Constructors’ title, its first since 1983. However, Scuderia Ferrari’s day of glory at Suzuka would come. On 8th October 2000, the Drivers’ title jinx, which dated back to 1979, was finally broken. It was down to Michael Schumacher who was crowned with one race to go. From then on, Suzuka was painted red: Michael and the Scuderia won in 2001, 2002 and 2004, and the title was also assigned in 2003, when the victory went to Rubens Barrichello.

Up to date. The Suzuka idyll ended in 2006, when Schumacher had just passed Fernando Alonso’s Renault to take the lead. The two men had arrived in Japan equal on points, with two races remaining. Unfortunately, the first engine failure since 2000 let the German down and hopes of an eighth title went with it. Suzuka had further disappointment in store for the Scuderia in 2012, when Fernando Alonso collided with Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus and had to retire. Vettel won, to reignite his title charge on the Ferrari man. Both current Scuderia drivers have won in Japan: Fernando in 2006 and 2008 and Kimi in 2005, when he staged a remarkable fight up the order from 17th on the grid.

 

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