F1 Japanese GP 2023: Everything you need to know
Just like last season, this year’s F1 Japanese GP could prove to be a title-decider. With seven races remaining, Max Verstappen has a 153-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings, and anything but Sergio Perez finishing at least four points in front of Verstappen would mean Max will be crowned a triple world champion with six races remaining after this.
However, after their troubles at the Marina Bay Circuit, it’ll be interesting to see whether it was just a one-off result or whether the new technical directives have resulted in Red Bull losing some of their on-track performance.
Suzuka Circuit: History and Characteristics
The 3.6 mile long Suzuka Circuit poses a completely different challenge to that of the Marina Bay Circuit, which was a street circuit with lots of 90 degree corners. Suzuka, on the other hand, is a classic F1 circuit with a good mix of high- and low-speed corners. With that in mind, tyre supplier Pirelli has gone with the hardest set of compounds for this weekend’s grand prix, where C3 is the softest compound and C1 is the hardest.
Although tyre degradation isn’t that big, the high-speed nature of the track means there’s more lateral stress on the tyres as compared to the Singapore GP. Thus, if rain doesn’t spoil the fun, it should be a standard 1-stop race for most teams, with the Medium-to-Hard strategy being the most optimal one.
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After God knows how many races, we’re finally set for largely sunny and warm conditions throughout the race weekend at Suzuka. Although there is a chance of rain on Friday, conditions are expected to be sunny and warm throughout Saturday and Sunday. Highs of 28 degrees Celsius are predicted on Sunday for the start of the race, with bright and sunny conditions.
With action returning to a traditional circuit, with lots of medium and high-speed corners, expect the likes of Williams to shoot right up the order and fight for points in the middle of the pack. However, on a similar note, someone like Aston Martin would be regretting their missed opportunity at the Singapore GP, and with their cars not quite suited to the configurations of this track, they may find it difficult to score points this weekend.
McLaren might not have the race-pace to win a race on merit, but with their recent upgrades, they are there or thereabouts. But whether they can dethrone either Mercedes or Ferrari remains to be seen. Mercedes, on the other hand, executed a near-perfect race at Singapore that brought them within seconds of that all-elusive race victory, but George Russell’s last lap mistake meant they walked away from that GP with only 16 points. Given their history at this track and their recent upgrades, they are definitely there alongside Ferrari to Challenge the Red Bulls.
Carlos Sainz has been on fire since coming back from the summer break, with Ferrari delivering impressive results on two very different tracks, something many people didn’t see coming. Their new package looks more efficient and, as mentioned before, is delivered on completely different tracks. Thus, come Saturday and Sunday, the smart money will be on Ferrari to push or even produce another upset in one of the strongholds of Red Bull.
Ah, Red Bull. People expected them to struggle in Singapore, but not making the Q3 and finishing the race in fifth and eighth came completely out of the blue. The question arises, was it just a one-time thing, or has the new technical directive played a role in Red Bull losing their performances and grip, as evident from their sliding rears through the Singapore GP race weekend?
Thus, with Suzuka being such a high-speed, high-downforce circuit, it’ll reveal a lot about where the Austrian team stands after the new directive. If they blitz the field and Max wins by a 20-second margin, it’s all good at Red Bull and the Singapore GP can be put down to a bad setup or the wrong development vision; if the problems persist, there is a deeper underlying issue that needs to be talked about.
When and Where to watch the Japanese GP
For viewers in India, the Japanese GP will not be broadcast on any TV channel. One can watch the live stream of the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix only on F1 TV Pro in India.
The schedule for the Japanese GP is as follows:
Friday, September 22
Free Practice 1: 08:00–09:00 IST
Free Practice 2: 11:30–12:30 IST
Saturday, September 23
Free Practice 3: 08:00–09:00 IST
Qualifying: 11:30–12:30 IST
Sunday, September 24
Main Race: 10:30–12:30 IST
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