2022 Japanese Grand Prix Attracts Biggest Suzuka Attendance Since 2012

The 2022 Japanese Grand Prix was the best-attended race at Suzuka in a decade with the weekend attendance figure exceeding 200,000 for the first time since 2012.

Max Verstappen claimed his second title in tricky conditions at the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix. The Suzuka race was attended by over 90,000 people, with the three-day attendance figure reaching 200,000. It was the best-attended Suzuka race since 2012, when 208,000 fans passed through the circuit gates over the three days of the race weekend.

The race weekend had mixed weather conditions. Friday practice was run in damp conditions and, though it stayed dry for qualifying on Saturday, rain fell again on Sunday. The Grand Prix was interrupted as a result, with just a single lap being run before the red flag was shown.

Racing resumed over two hours later, with just over 45 minutes remaining of the three-hour time limit. Despite only running to a total of 28 laps, full points were awarded – and a post-race penalty for championship rival Charles Leclerc put Verstappen in a position to claim his second title with Red Bull, 11 years to the day since Sebastian Vettel achieved the same feat with the same team at the same track.

Though rain is common at Suzuka, rain on race day is more rare. The last wet Japanese Grand Prix before 2022 was in 2014. 1993, 1994 and 1995 are the only other Suzuka races which were run in wet conditions.

Japanese Grand Prix weekend attendance figures

While the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix attendance figure is the largest in ten years, it remains a long way off the 300,000 plus figures which were seen at the track throughout the 1990s and in the early 2000s. The record weekend attendance figure at Suzuka came in 2006, when 361,000 fans attended. That included 161,000 on race day alone.

*1987’s weekend attendance figure is a 4-day attendance figure, as additional Free Practice was held on Thursday. The circuit was closed to spectators on Saturday in both 2004 and 2019 due to weather conditions.

There were multiple factors which contributed to 2006’s record attendance figure. It was boosted by the strong performance of Honda, who had taken full ownership of the former BAR team that season. There was a Japanese team on the grid that year – the short-lived Super Aguri team – with an all-Japanese driver line-up of Takuma Sato and Sakon Yamamoto. Furthermore, the 2006 race was expected to be Suzuka’s final turn at hosting the Japanese Grand Prix, with the event moving to Fuji Speedway from 2007. However, amid the Global Financial Crisis, the track pulled out of hosting F1 after just two races and the Japanese Grand Prix ultimately returned to Suzuka in 2009.

2022’s ten-year attendance high comes despite a lack of foreign spectators. Japan is yet to re-open to individual foreign visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic. Ironically, the country’s borders will re-open to independent foreign travelers, with visa-free entry expected to be reintroduced on October 11.

Tsunoda’s first race at home

Yuki Tsunoda finally got the chance to compete in front of his home crowd. The fact that Tsunoda was the first Japanese driver to race at the Japanese Grand Prix since 2014 will have doubtlessly contributed to the increased spectator numbers at the 2022 race.

Tsunoda did not follow in the footsteps of Satoru Nakajima, Takuma Sato or Kamui Kobayashi, failing to score points on his first appearance on home soil. The AlphaTauri driver qualified in 13th place and finished where he started.

Four races left to run in the 2022 season

The Drivers’ Championship may be decided, but the Constructors’ Championship is yet to be won and there’s plenty for the drivers to play for in the remaining four races of the season. Next up is the United States Grand Prix at COTA.

In 2021, the United States Grand Prix was the best-attended race of the season with a weekend attendance figure of 400,000. So far in 2022, only the Australian Grand Prix (420,000) and the British Grand Prix (401,000) can boast attendance figures higher than that of COTA’s last season.

Were you at the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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