Your trackside guide to the Suzuka circuit and the 2016 Japanese Grand Prix on October 7-9.
With so much recent F1 history and an incredible atmosphere courtesy of the fervent local fans, a trip to the Suzuka circuit is on the bucket list for many F1 fans. The circuit is a little out of the way, but the trip is worthwhile. Just pay attention to our tips below and come prepared! The good news is that the Suzuka website has been upgraded this year with lots of useful information in English for fans visiting the track; we have included plenty of links to relevant pages below.
Many thanks to Rob McAuley for his advice in preparing this guide and for letting us use his Suzuka images.
Be prepared for a day at Suzuka
It’s worth getting organized before travelling to Suzuka. Aside from food and expensive F1 merchandise, there are no shops or ATMs at the circuit or the Suzuka Inou train station. (There are shops and ATMs at the Shiroko train station, but opening hours are limited and you may not get what you need.) Make sure you have sufficient cash, as well as other useful items such as sun cream, a hat, umbrella or wet weather gear. You’ll be walking a lot at Suzuka, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Entrance & Orientation
The Japanese are a polite, law abiding race of people. Read about Better Manners ‘for a more pleasant spectator experience’ at Suzuka including a list of prohibited items at the circuit. Eight entrance gates provide access to the circuit (see map). It pays to check the closest entry gate to your grandstand or you may have a substantial walk of up to 3km. The main gate is closest to the grandstands on the final corner (Q1-2, R, S) and pit straight grandstands (V1, V2). Click here for more detailed information on entry gates, including opening and closing times.
Click here to download a more detailed map (courtesy of suzukacircuit.jp)
Don’t forget that Suzuka offers ‘Free Friday’, which means you can sit in any grandstand for the first day of action. This is a great opportunity to check out some views from different parts of the circuit. Click here for our top 5 grandstands at Suzuka.
Japanese Grand Prix Schedule
We’ve printed the official schedule for 2016 opposite. In addition to around 6 hours of on-track F1 action, you can also expect to see racing from the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Super FJ single-seaters. The schedule this year also features an ‘F1 Legends’ demonstration, with several iconic cars on track (drivers to be announced), including the 1987 Ferrari F187 and 1989 McLaren Honda MP4/5.
If you are able to make it to the track on Thursday morning, you can take part in the Eastern track walk for fans and the pitlane walk. If you want to get your favorite driver’s autograph, you’ll need to be lucky however; a draw is held and only a limited number of ticket holders get to participate in the session on Thursday afternoon. If you miss the East track walk on Thursday, all is not lost. You can still take part in the Western track walk after the race on Sunday. Another pit straight walk is held on Monday. Click here for the full list of extra activities this year.
Thursday, October 6
- 09:00-12:30: Eastern Track Walk (enter via Substation Gate, last entry at 11:30)
- 09:00-11:30: Pitlane Walk for 3-day ticket holders (last entry at 11:15)
- 16:00-17:00: Driver’s Autograph Session (based on a lottery: tickets are distributed during the earlier Pitlane Walk)
Friday, October 7
- 10:00-11:30: Formula 1 (Free Practice 1)
- 12:00-12:30: Porsche Carrera Cup Japan (practice 1)
- 14:00-15:30: Formula 1 (Free Practice 2)
- 15:55-16:25: Super FJ (practice)
- 16:45-17:15: Porsche Carrera Cup Japan (practice 1)
Saturday, October 8
- 10:30-11:00: Super FJ (qualifying)
- 12:00-13:00: Formula 1 (Free Practice 3)
- 15:00-16:00: Formula 1 (Qualifying)
- 16:30-17:00: Porsche Carrera Cup Japan (qualifying)
Sunday, October 9
- 10:00-10:30: Super FJ (race: 8 laps / 25 mins)
- 11:15-11:50: Porsche Carrera Cup Japan (race: 10 laps / 30 mins)
- 12:30: F1 Driver’s Track Parade
- 14:00-16:00: 2015 Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix
Follow the action
Trackside commentary is only in Japanese, as is the information on the big screen TVs around the track. If you want to follow the on-track action, you can try out the free WiFi offered by the track or buy yourself a local SIM card. NTT Docomo is the best mobile network for coverage at Suzuka.
Food & Drink
There is a good selection of food and drink available trackside at Suzuka, and prices are pretty reasonable. Expect to pay 150 yen for water ($1.20 USD), 250 yen for other drinks ($2 USD), 500 yen for beers ($4 USD) and a similar amount for food items. There’s a choice of both Japanese and Western food, including noodles, rice dishes and hamburgers.The best food choices can be found in the area behind the main grandstand, but there are smaller concessions behind other grandstands around the circuit.
Ferris Wheel & Special Stage
Three-day ticket holders get free rides on the iconic Ferris Wheel at Suzuka and it’s a must-do at the circuit. The views are spectacular, even if there is no on-track action at the time. Thursday is probably the best day to take a ride, as there are no queues.
The GP Square area behind the main grandstand is the center of activity on Grand Prix weekend. In addition to being the place to go for the best food, drink and merchandise, there is also a stage with concerts.
What you need to know before organizing your trip to the Japanese Grand Prix Suzuka. The next race is provisionally scheduled for October 7-9, 2016.