Japanese Grand Prix

Japanese Grand Prix 2022: Who Will Win At Suzuka?

It’s been three years since the last Formula 1 race was held at Suzuka racing circuit. Currently, all of the Paddock Club members are looking forward to the Japanese Grand Prix 2022 for the racing battle between the fastest drivers. Max Verstappen is just one step away from becoming the Formula 1 second time world champion. Will Charles Leclerc be in form to compete with the fastest Red Bull driver or will Carlos Sainz make a victory mark at one of the difficult tracks? Or does Sergio Perez merit the podium as much as winning the night race in Singapore? We will certainly know, but let’s take a look at the key details ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix 2022.

Japanese Grand Prix: the odds and prospects. 

Following the Singapore Grand Prix, we have four clear leaders, three dark horses and three teams to claim victory in the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix. Even if the circumstances change, we already know the names of the fastest drivers, while the main battle will set between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. As a result, there is nothing new in the betting odds.

The first two positions are the same as they were three months ago. Max Verstappen is the clear leader to claim victory at Suzuka racing circuit (-180). Charles Leclerc suits as second ( +300). The third driver, according to bookmakers’ odds ahead of Japanese GP 2022, is Sergio Perez (+1000), who moved ahead of Lewis Hamilton (+1200) after his unexpected win on Singapore GP.

Agreed? Although, we aren’t sure enough. Here are

The controversial points:

Max Verstappen is on the way to winning the title?

Max Verstappen has a clear advantage. The case is not about speed, the key is how the entire Red Bull team worked in comparison with Scuderia Ferrari. Thus, Carlos Sainz’s victory is a matter of luck, while Max Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez is always ready to secure the coveted points. There is also tension within the team, but these are small things.  

Despite the above, Max Verstappen has reliability issues with the car. It’s like his RB18 is always winning and running fast, but he never knows when it will fail. That is what happened at Bahrain GP, when he retired after a dramatic power failure. And that is what happened on Australian GP, when he retired after engine issues. There is no doubt that in all other cases, Max Verstappen will win the title and become a two-time Formula 1 champion by the time of the Japanese Grand Prix 2022. Unless….

Charles Leclerc and Scuderia Ferrari 

Scuderia Ferrari must pull everything together in the right direction. Did you notice how fast Ferrari responded to Red Bull’s strategy against Red Bull? It happened after the summer break. Every now and then, the team’s bosses stop creating mind challenges and just observe how their colleagues do their jobs. Ferrari’s strategy during the race remains their Achilles’ heel, but this “heel” isn’t as prominent today as it once was. 

In spite of this, Charles Leclerc is the most tolerable driver on the grid. The easiest way of handling circumstances would be to give up and be satisfied with the positions after Max Verstappen. Although, it’s not about Charles, who will be racing wheel to wheel if it’s necessary.

Besides, Leclerc has a very special feel about the Suzuka racing circuit as it is always linked to the death of his friend Jules Bianchi. This means Chalres will be fighting. If Ferrari team will figure out with their strategy system and Leclerc will be skilled enough for the Suzuka, he will delay Verstappen for ovations for once more race. 

The legendary Japanese GP is all about iconic Suzuka.

The truth is that each driver on the grid loves Suzuka, or has special feelings for it, because it has a unique nature temper. Hard to imagine, but the racing track is almost 60 years old. Have you ever heard of Soichiro Honda? It is his company’s cars you may find around the world. 

Suzuka was conceived in 1962, when Soichiro Honda was looking to turn Honda into something quite powerful. Therefore, a test track was needed to support big ambitions. Suzuka debuted in Formula 1 in 1987 when Nelson Piquet became the F1 champion after his main rival Nigel Mansell crashed in qualifying.  

While the layout of the racing track has changed over the years, one thing is certain: it has preserved the spirit of racing through its own so difficult turns and hairpins. Snaking ‘S’ Curves and the white-knuckle ride on 130R become the greatest test of endurance for each driver and their cars. Perhaps that is why they love it, but one thing is for sure – racing at high speed here is a pleasure, challenging, but a pleasure. 

Seminal track Suzuka is unforgiving. Just look at the layout. One error would be too costly. Therefore, only the most skilled drivers will see the green light at every corner. 

Suzuka racing circuit
Suzuka racing circuit

Who is that one at the grid? Well, that is Michale Shumacher who is the record holder at Suzuka. He has six victories in the Japanese Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton is second with five victories. Sebastian Vettel is third. German has four victories here, while Fernando Alonso won here twice: in 2006 and 2008. And Valteri Bottas won the last Japanese Grand Prix in 2019. 

Needs to say F1 fans in Japan love Fernando Alonso as he said many times that he finds eastern philosophy very inspiring. But let’s step back to acute issues. 

Therefore, skilled Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have the small advantage. Moreover, the weather conditions for the Japanese Grand Prix double the chances for the last two races.

Dark horses and the possibility of rain during the Japanese Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso, real samurai, the king of rain conditions at least. He is the only one who knows how all this physics works with his Alpine car. His results have improved with uncharted magic when rain is at issue, making him the first dark horse. 

Surely you can argue how the Spaniard could possibly win the Japanese challenge at all? Alpine is so gap in terms of speed at the track. But wait a minute. Rain on the track always flips the race order upside down. Examples? Well, what about George Russell finishing second on the Belgian Grand Prix 2021, when the entire Williams team cried with happiness? Alonso may have less chance of winning the Japanese GP, but there are still chances for him to finish on the podium, which are doubling due to expected rain. 

George Russell is another dark horse on the grid. He demonstrates a constant pace at the wheel of a Mercedes. When necessary, he doesn’t push too hard, but enough to trick his opponents. Furthermore, he has had positive experiences through the rain. 

For Lewis Hamilton, finding a good constant is the main goal from race to race. One of Briton’s main goals is to win his first Grand Prix, and we believe the British driver has good chances of winning the Japanese Grand Prix 2022. His five wins at Suzuka and his W12 car have to show good results at the track which may be seemed difficult enough for the others. 

Weather forecast for the Japanese Grand Prix in 2022.

The weather forecast for the Japanese Grand Prix is as unpredictable as Ferrari’s strategies. Therefore, we expect mixed conditions. During the weekend’s racing, the temperature will range between 19 and 22 degrees Celsius. This is nine degrees colder than the Singapore Grand Prix. Friday’s practice will be fortunate in that it will be wet with a 70% chance of rain. 

Despite all this, the qualifying session on Saturday is likely to take place in dry conditions. The most tricky conditions are scheduled for Sunday’s race. Japanese Grand Prix takes place over 53 laps, while the threat of rain will grow up to 75% on every lap. Therefore, there will be a lot of work for the strategists of each team in the Paddock.

2022 Japanese Grand Prix schedule (local time)

There are no additional support races to Formula 1, except Porsche Carrera Cup. Note that there is possibility that the timetable may be changed. Suzuka is 9 hours ahead of UTC. 

FRIDAY 7th OCTOBER
FIAF1 Car Presentation10:30 – 11:30
FORMULA 1FIRST PRACTICE SESSION12:00 – 13:00
Porsche Carrera Cup JapanPractice Session13:30 – 14:15
FORMULA 1SECOND PRACTICE SESSION15:00 – 16:30
SATURDAY 8th OCTOBER
Formula 1Team Pit Stop Practice09:15 – 09:45
Formula 1Teams’ Press Conference09:30 – 10:30
FORMULA 1THIRD PRACTICE SESSION12:00 – 13:00
Porsche Carrera Cup JapanQualifying Session13:30 – 14:00
FORMULA 1QUALIFYING SESSION15:00 – 16:00
Formula 1Press Conference16:00 – 17:00
SUNDAY 9th OCTOBER
Porsche Carrera Cup JapanRace (10 Laps or 30 Mins)11:05 – 11:40
Formula 1Drivers’ Parade12:00 – 12:30
Formula 1National Anthem13:44 – 13:46
FORMULA 1GRAND PRIX (53 LAPS OR 120 MINS)14:00 – 16:00

Sums it up.

Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix is all about the iconic Suzuka. A race like this is never about “train” mode, it’s always about a difficult layout and complicated weather conditions. Additionally, the last point is already adding to the work load since it is very unpredictable and will vary day to day, hour to hour. Although the weather on Saturday and Sunday will be different, the rain on the day of the race will be decisive.

Will Max Verstappen become the two-time F1 world champion in Japan? We aren’t sure, maybe fifty-fifty. One thing is for sure, that there will be many mistakes and tension at the Suzuka International racing circuit. It means that second line drivers will come to first line. Therefore we’re expecting to see ovations in the honor of Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso or George Russell.