The Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix

In the upcoming weekend the 鈴鹿サーキット (Suzuka circuit) will host the 日本グランプリ (Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix) yet again. As a motor-loving country, Japan has a relatively long tradition of racing, especially when compared to other Asian countries. Already in 1976 the first official Japanese F1 Grand Prix was hosted at 富士スピードウェイ(Fuji Speedway), however, after two spectators were killed in a crash the following year, it was not until 1987 that Formula 1 would return to Japan. It did so on a track that is loved by both drivers and spectators, 鈴鹿サーキット.

Although Japanese drivers have not been very successful in Formula 1, as only 鈴木亜久里 (Aguri Suzuki) and 佐藤琢磨 (Takuma Sato) have ever ventured onto the podium at the end of a Grand Prix, while just 長谷見雅広 (Masahiro Hasemi) and 中嶋悟 (Satoru Nakajima) have once driven a fastest race lap. Nevertheless, Japanese drivers are often appreciated by the audience, as their aggressive racing style usually is a recipe for overtaking and race action. Currently, 小林可夢偉 (Kamui Kobayashi) is the sole active Formula 1 driver from Japan.

Still, Japan has known great success as a manufacturer of racing cars and especially engines. 本田 (Honda) is among the most successful engine suppliers in Formula 1, having won races and even world championships. During the first decade of the twenty-first century, Formula 1 saw three teams from Japan compete in its championship. Besides 本田, トヨタ (Toyota) and Super Aguri F1 were active, however, only the former two secured podium finishes.

Even though Japanese drivers, manufacturers and engine suppliers may have had mixed success during their active years in Formula 1, the Japanese Grand Prix has traditionally been one of the most excellent races of the season. In half of its 24 occasions, the driver World Champion was crowned in Japan. The 2011 season might be decided at 鈴鹿too, as championship leader Sebastian Vettel needs a mere point to win his second consecutive championship. The most notable championship deciders in Japan lay back in the late 80s though, when legendary drivers Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost fought two harsh and very unsporting battles for the win. Both in 1989 and 1990 the two rivals clashed and crashed out, handing each of them one World Championship. The 2011 Japanese Grand Prix will most definitely not see such a fierce championship battle, however, as 鈴鹿 guarantees entertainment and racing of the highest level, fans and viewers around the world will most likely be up for a traditionally fantastic Grand Prix.

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