Max Verstappen is the only current driver to have a 100% points scoring record at the Japanese Grand Prix, seven drivers have a 100% Suzuka finish record and just two drivers have never been beaten in qualifying by a team-mate at the track. Here are all the stats and facts about each driver’s history at the Japanese Grand Prix!
?? Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton has finished on the podium at Suzuka in every season since 2014, with three wins in the past four races. The British driver has only retired from a race at this track once, in 2013, and other than that has never finished below fifth. Hamilton took his first Suzuka pole position last season and, despite never having qualified on pole before that, has only qualified outside the top three once (ninth in 2012, though he also had a grid penalty in 2010 which dropped him from third to eighth on the grid). From his nine appearances at the track, Hamilton has out-qualified his team-mate four times, and has a 100% Q3 record.
?? Valtteri Bottas
The only time Valtteri Bottas has failed to score points at the Suzuka circuit was on his first appearance in 2013. Since then, the Finn has finished in the points every year. With a best finish of fourth place last season, Bottas has never finished on the podium in the Japanese Grand Prix. He’s qualified in the top three on three occasions from his five appearances, with a best of second last season (though he’d later be demoted to sixth on the grid). Despite recording his best Suzuka qualifying position, last season was the first time Bottas was beaten by a team-mate in qualifying at the track.
?? Sebastian Vettel
With 147 Suzuka points, Sebastian Vettel has scored more points at the Japanese track than any other driver. Until 2016, Vettel had never recorded a result other than a podium finish at the circuit, having won four times and finished in third place three times. Since then, Vettel recorded a fourth place in 2016 and a DNF due to mechanical issues last season, ending his 100% finish record at Suzuka. Between 2009 and 2012, Vettel recorded four poles in a row at the Japanese Grand Prix, and has started on the front row a further two times since then. The German has only lost positions from his starting slot once at Suzuka – in 2011, when he dropped two places from pole over the course of the race. Vettel has a 100% Q3 record at the track.
?? Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen hasn’t stood on the podium at Suzuka since his epic win from seventeenth on the grid in 2005. Aside from his DNF in 2001, Raikkonen has finished below sixth only once at Suzuka during his career. He’s finished fifth in both of the last two seasons. Raikkonen has never qualified above third here, and has only qualified third once, in 2016. As a result of grid penalties, the Finn hasn’t started a Japanese Grand Prix from inside the top five since 2009. In fact, the only other time he lined up in the top five at the track was in 2002. Since his comeback to F1 in 2012, Raikkonen has beaten his team-mate in Qualifying at Suzuka only once – in 2016. Raikkonen has a 100% Q3 rate at the Suzuka circuit. From his twelve finishes in Suzuka, 2014 is the only time he’s lost positions from his starting place.
?? Daniel Ricciardo
Last season, Daniel Ricciardo scored his first Japanese Grand Prix podium finish with third place. It was the fourth time he’s scored points from his seven F1 appearances at the track. The Australian has never qualified above sixth at the Suzuka circuit, but has only been beaten by a team-mate on pace once at the track. He has a best starting position of fourth from last season, when he benefited from grid penalties for the two Finnish drivers. Ricciardo has reached Q3 at the circuit in every season since he joined Red Bull in 2014.
?? Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen has finished as runner-up in both of the last two Japanese Grands Prix. He has a 100% finish record, as well as a 100% points record at the Suzuka circuit. Verstappen also has a strong Saturday scorecard at the track, despite beating a team-mate only once, he’s qualified in fifth in both of the last two seasons and moved up the grid on both occasions thanks to other drivers’ grid penalties – to third in 2016 and to fourth in 2017. The Dutchman has gained positions in all three appearances at the Japanese Grand Prix, with a best of eight places gained in the 2015 event.
?? Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez has taken two seventh place finishes in the past two years at the Japanese Grand Prix. From his seven appearances at Suzuka, he’s retired only once and has brought home points four times. His highest qualifying position here is seventh, in 2012 when he was driving for Sauber, though he lined up fifth on the grid in both that season and in 2017. Perez hasn’t gained a place from his starting position at this track since 2014. He’s reached Q3 in every season since 2015, and has beaten a team-mate three times from seven Saturday appearances.
?? Esteban Ocon
Esteban Ocon is yet to be out-qualified by a team-mate at the Japanese Grand Prix. He scored his first Suzuka points last season, with a sixth place finish, having qualified in seventh and started from fifth on the grid. The Frenchman is yet to gain a position from his starting place at Suzuka.
?? Lance Stroll
On his first appearance at the Japanese Grand Prix last year, Lance Stroll was eliminated in Q1 having failed to beat his team-mate. After lining up eighteenth on the grid, Stroll retired from the race with suspension damage.
?? Sergey Sirotkin
Sergey Sirotkin has no past racing experience at the Suzuka circuit.
?? Nico Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg’s career so far at the Japanese Grand Prix has been bookended by DNFs in his first appearance in 2010 and in his most recent appearance last season. Aside from those two retirements, Hulkenberg has never finished below eighth in races at the Suzuka circuit. From his seven appearances, the German has been out-qualified by a team-mate at the track four times. Hulkenberg has made Q3 four times, and has never been eliminated in Q1 at the track. He’s gained at least one position in every race he has completed at Suzuka.
?? Carlos Sainz
On his final race appearance with Toro Rosso, Carlos Sainz recorded his first retirement from the Japanese Grand Prix last season. He’s only scored one point previously here, with a tenth place finish in 2015. Sainz has never qualified inside the top ten here, but did line up tenth on the grid in 2015. He’s beaten his team-mate on two of his three appearances. The Spaniard is yet to gain a position in a Grand Prix at the Suzuka track.
?? Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly will compete in his second Japanese Grand Prix this weekend. He raced at Suzuka in Super Formula last year. He finished tenth in the first round of the season. Suzuka was scheduled to hold the final two rounds of the Super Formula season, for which Gasly missed the U.S. Grand Prix, but the races were cancelled due to the weather conditions. In F1 last year, Gasly finished seventeenth for the Japanese Grand Prix and came home in thirteenth position.
?? Brendon Hartley
Brendon Hartley has never raced at Suzuka before.
?? Romain Grosjean
Romain Grosjean was infamously called out by Mark Webber for being a ‘first lap nutcase’ after the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix. That was the only occasion where Grosjean has failed to finish a race at Suzuka. He’s scored points in three races at the track, including a podium finish in 2013. His best qualifying performance at the track also came in 2013, when he qualified in fourth position. He’s started from the second row of the grid twice – in 2012 and 2013. The Frenchman hasn’t been beaten by a team-mate in qualifying at this circuit since 2014, and has reached Q3 on four of his seven Japanese Grand Prix appearances. Grosjean has never been eliminated in Q2 at the circuit before. The 2016 race is the only time he’s lost positions from his starting place in a Japanese Grand Prix in which he’s reached the chequered flag.
?? Kevin Magnussen
In 2017, Kevin Magnussen scored points for the first time at the Japanese Grand Prix with an eighth place finish. Before that, he’d recorded two fourteenth place results. Magnussen has qualified in the top ten only once previously at Suzuka, with a seventh place on Saturday in 2014. Since then, he’s had one Q1 exit and one Q2 exit. 2014 is also the only time so far that the Dane has beaten a team-mate in Qualifying at this track.
?? Fernando Alonso
From the twelve races he’s finished at the track, 2016 is the only time Fernando Alonso has lost a position from his starting place at the Suzuka circuit. Alonso recorded one win here, in 2006, and has had four podium finishes in total – the last of which was in 2011. He hasn’t scored points in Japan since his fourth place finish in the 2013 race – but has finished eleventh twice in the past three seasons. The Spaniard has never qualified higher than fifth at the track, and has done so five times; the last time being in 2014. The only time he’s started higher than fifth was in 2010, when he moved up one position on the grid thanks to a grid penalty for Lewis Hamilton. He hasn’t been beaten by a team-mate in qualifying here since 2013. Alonso has failed to reach Q3 at the circuit only three times in his career (including twice in the past three seasons) and has never been eliminated in Q1.
?? Stoffel Vandoorne
Stoffel Vandoorne competed at Suzuka in F1 for the first time in 2017. He was eliminated in Q2, qualifying in eleventh and starting from ninth on the grid. Vandoorne lost five places over the course of the Grand Prix and finished in fourteenth position.
?? Marcus Ericsson
Marcus Ericsson is yet to finish above fourteenth in the Japanese Grand Prix. His best result here came in 2015, while his worst came last year when he failed to finish the race. Ericsson has qualified in nineteenth on every Japanese Grand Prix appearance, except in 2015 where he qualified seventeenth. He’s never actually started from the position in which he qualified, though, as penalties for other drivers have moved him up the grid in all four years that he’s competed at Suzuka. The Swede has never been beaten by a team-mate in Qualifying at the track; but has never progressed past Q1.
?? Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc has never raced before at the Suzuka circuit.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. The blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics.
Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.