With another race weekend ticked off the list for 2018, the end is in sight and we’re down to the final five.
Back to back races and especially back to back flyaways does take it out on you. While you don’t really feel it, you know it’s real when you, in turn, forget to set your alarm, lose your toothbrush and put salt, not sugar, in your morning double espresso.
But this is where the Japanese Grand Prix swoops in and puts an arm around you and lets you know everything will be just fine. The Japanese fans are arguably the best out there; they adore us and we adore them. When we’re feeling tired, they are there to power us through the week (and weekend), and act as our fuel. Their energy is contagious, stemming from their pure wackiness, passion, innovation and love for Formula 1. It’s what makes Japan so special.
It’s not just drivers who sign autographs, anyone with a green or red dongle wearing team kit, whether it be chefs, physios, mechanics or engineers, will be scribbling away and posing for selfies to the adoring Japanese fans. It’s surreal, but something we kind of relish, as it doesn’t happen everyday. It’s a bit bemusing when you walk into the supermarket back home and there isn’t a guard of honour or anyone rushing your way for a signature. Not fun.
For anyone experiencing Japan for the first time, it’s an eye-opener, in the sense that your eyes will remain open for the duration of the weekend, day and night, as your brain tries to negotiate and absorb the sheer craziness of it all. Amazing, and well worth experiencing. Prime example? One word: Pachinko.
It’s full-on, flat-out, 100% in your face and we’re not even sure if we’re describing the Japanese fans or Suzuka as a circuit itself. Metaphorical in a way, it could be said. Suzuka is one of the most legendary circuits in Formula 1. Designed as a figure of eight, it twists, turns, dips and dives and provides drivers and their machines an almighty test. If you could ask drivers to design their dream circuit, it would probably be something somewhere in the ballpark of Suzuka.
In terms of activities, the obvious choice is the Motopia Theme Park located by the track. You’ll see its exact location when you spot the big ferris wheel on the outside of the circuit, close to the esses. We’re not one for heights, but we can only imagine at the top is a lovely, lovely view. There is absolutely no way that we’re going up there, though. That’s what Third Drivers are for.
Japanese food also makes this one very enjoyable. It’s very much a popular, global cuisine nowadays, but you get that extra ounce of taste when you sample Japanese food in Japan. It’s difficult to describe how good it is, but it’s simply lovely.
Everywhere in Japan is scenic. It could be the mania of Tokyo where everything is just bright, loud and controlled chaos or the tranquillity of the rural countryside where it’s so simple and so serene. Just what we need at this point in the year! Local towns to Suzuka include: Yokkaichi, Tsu and Shiroko with the former Imperial capital of Japan Kyoto only 80 kilometres away from the circuit. Kyoto is famed for its gardens and temples and is undoubtedly one for the bucket list.
Japan is definitely a Formula 1 favourite, for team, drivers and the fans. A legendary circuit, incredible people all within a fascinating country, mixed together to create a quite amazing Grand Prix weekend. To Japan, we’re on our way!