The Japanese Grand Prix has seen both the thrills and chills of Formula 1 racing. Here are three memorable F1 moments at the Suzuka circuit.
It is now Suzuka’s turn to see the lights go off for the 17th stage of the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship.
The 18-corner, 5.8-kilometer racetrack located in Suzuka City will host 20 F1 competing for points and prize money. Beloved by drivers for its difficulty and its design, the Suzuka International Racing Course has been witness to many classic fights between world-class F1 drivers in the 29 races it hosted in the Grand Prix.
Here are three of the best battles in the Suzuka-hosted Japanese Grand Prix.
1 | Prost vs. Senna in 1989
McLaren-Honda teammates Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna already fought bravely in Suzuka, where Senna came back from stalling at the start of the grid to overtake Prost and win not only the race but also the Drivers’ Championship.
The bad blood looked to have never been lost between the two as the following year tangled them on another hotly contested battle. Approaching the final chicane, Senna’s McLaren trailed Prost. Fighting to overtake Prost in the Drivers’ Championship, Senna took the inside line to overtake his teammate.
Whether that move was too risky, or if Prost intended to hit Senna, the world will never know. However, it was certain that the two McLarens crashed with each other. Senna continued and won the race, while his teammate retired.
The win never lasted, though, as the racing federation immediately disqualified Senna for cutting corners after the crash. With the points he won invalidated, his teammate Prost was handed the Drivers’ title.
2 | Prost vs. Senna, Again, in 1990
Just a season after the incident, Prost and Senna are at it again on the same track, but this time, driving for different teams.
Senna, the points leader and still at McLaren, won the pole for the race but believed that he was placed on the wrong side of the track. At the start of the race, the car starting on the right—Prost’s Ferrari—went past the McLaren with ease. Prost needed a win to catch Senna with only two races to go.
What happened afterward was what many considered as justified revenge over last season’s incident. Heading toward a fast left-handed turn, Senna went for the inside line once again. As Prost turned to the corner, Senna refused to go off the track and crashed onto the Ferrari. The accident on Lap 1 virtually gave Senna the Drivers’ Championship.
3 | Raikkonen vs. Fisichella, 2005
At the penultimate lap of the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix, Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella put up a mighty defense against the upcoming McLaren-Mercedes of Kimi Raikkonen. Starting from 17th on the grid, Raikkonen had to plow past 15 cars inside 50 of laps just to get a chance against race leader Fisichella.
Raikkonen seemed to have the better exit at the final chicane compared with Fisichella. The McLaren driver moved closer and closer to the Renault at the start-finish straight. Fisichella tried to defend the inside corner approaching a right-hander, but Raikkonen—with momentum coming from the previous corner—moved to the left.
For just a moment, Raikkonen went side by side with Fisichella before cruising past the Renault on his way to victory.
The 2018 Japanese Grand Prix has the potential to deliver the same racing thrill as the previous seasons before. Players can place wagers on who among Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, or 18 other drivers will get the chance to climb the podium in front of the Japanese crowd. Sportsbook offering F1 odds include William Hill and bet365.