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F1's deadlock decider


This week, the F1 teams head straight from Shanghai across the East China Sea to Japan for the penultimate race of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship, Round 17 - the Japanese Grand Prix, held at the Honda-owned Suzuka circuit on Honshu Island.

The legendary Suzuka circuit is famous for its unique figure-of-eight configuration, the only one on the Formula 1 calendar and it has developed a reputation for close racing. The track was constructed as a test track in the early sixties.

The inaugural Japanese event took place in 1976 at Mount Fuji, with Mario Andretti taking the winners spoils in a race that also saw McLaren driver James Hunt secure the Drivers' World Championship. The following year saw James Hunt take victory at the Fuji track.

After these two races, a 10-year absence followed before the Grand Prix returned to the calendar in 1987 at Suzuka, which is located between Osaka and Nagoya, south-west of Tokyo. The event has historically been located towards the end of the season, and consequently has been the scene of numerous championship deciders.

This weekend will be no exception with defending F1 Champ Fernando Alonso tied on points with Ferrari's Michael Schumacher. While Schumacher has traditionally fared well at the Japanese venue, his focus is on enjoying his racing: "With our win in Shanghai I'm looking forward even more to the race in Suzuka, which is anyway always one of the season highlights. This track is like a dream; especially the first sector. To drive that part of the track is just fabulous: the s-curves, the rhythm, just incredible."

Japanese Grand Prix

Circuit length 5.807 km
Laps 53
Inaugural race 1976

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