Bottas is the most recent winner at Suzuka, Hamilton has finished on every Japanese Grand Prix podium since 2014 and Vettel has failed to finish in the top six only once. Here’s everything you need to know about each driver’s history at the Japanese Grand Prix!
🇳🇱 Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen made his first ever F1 appearance at the Suzuka circuit in 2014, as he took part in Free Practice 1 with the Toro Rosso team. Since then, Verstappen has scored four times, finished on the podium three times and retired once. He failed to finish the last race here after colliding with Charles Leclerc. Verstappen’s best result here is the runner-up spot, which is where he finished in both 2016 and 2017. Verstappen has qualified in the top five in all of the last four Suzuka races, with a best qualifying result of third in 2018. He’s yet to lose a place from where he has started in all four races which he has finished at Suzuka.
🇲🇽 Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez has scored at the Japanese Grand Prix on six occasions. After finishing seventh for three consecutive seasons, he finished eighth in 2019. The only time that Perez has failed to reach the end of the race here was in 2012, when he slithered off into the gravel at the hairpin. Perez ended a four year streak of reaching Q3 at Suzuka in 2019. His best qualifying result here is sixth, scored with Sauber in 2012. Perez has not out-qualified his team-mate at the track since 2016.
🇬🇧 Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton has won at Suzuka four times, all in the V6 hybrid era. He won in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. In the other two years, he finished third. Hamilton also finished third in 2009 and had a trio of fifth place finishes at the track between 2010 and 2012. His only retirement came in 2013. Hamilton has only qualified outside of the top three only twice at Suzuka, with ninth place in 2012 and fourth in 2019. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that Hamilton took his first pole at the track, which he followed up with another pole in 2018. Hamilton has led laps in five of the last six Japanese Grands Prix.
🇬🇧 George Russell
George Russell finished sixteenth in the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix. He qualified eighteenth, ahead of his team-mate and Kevin Magnussen, who both crashed in Q1.
🇲🇨 Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc scored at Suzuka for the first time in 2019. He finished sixth in 2019, following on from his DNF in the previous season. 2019 marked the first time Leclerc has reached the final part of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix. He lined up on the front row of the grid, just behind his team-mate. He was eliminated in Q1 in 2018.
🇪🇸 Carlos Sainz
Carlos Sainz recorded his best Japanese Grand Prix result in 2019 with fifth place for McLaren. He had previously scored twice at the track with tenth place finishes for Toro Rosso in 2015 and Renault in 2018. His only retirement here came in 2017 on his final outing with Toro Rosso. In 2019, Sainz reached Q3 for the first time at Suzuka, qualifying in seventh place. He had been eliminated in Q2 in every prior season. 2016 is the only season where the Spaniard has been out-qualified by a team-mate at the circuit.
🇦🇺 Daniel Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo has finished on the podium once at the Japanese Grand Prix, with a third place finish in 2017. The Australian has a 100% finish record at the event, but was disqualified from the 2019 race as Renault were found to be using illegal driver aids. Ricciardo has scored five times here in total. He has not reached Q3 at the circuit since 2017, when he recorded his best qualifying result at the track with fourth. He lined up third on the final grid. Ricciardo has failed to out-qualify his team-mate at the track in each of the last two races.
🇬🇧 Lando Norris
Lando Norris finished eleventh at the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix. He qualified in eighth for the race, one place behind his team-mate. Norris had driven at the Suzuka circuit for the first time in 2018, in Free Practice 1 for the Japanese Grand Prix with McLaren.
🇪🇸 Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso has recorded a single win at Suzuka in his Formula 1 career, winning the Japanese Grand Prix in 2006. He has failed to score on any of his last five visits to the track, with his last points-scoring appearance being a fourth place finish in 2013. Alonso has never taken pole at Suzuka, nor has he lined up on the front row of the grid at the track. His best qualifying result here is fifth, which he has recorded five times, while his best grid position is fourth, recorded in 2010. From his fifteen appearances, Alonso has been out-qualified by his team-mate on four occasions, most recently in 2013. Of the twelve races which he has completed at Suzuka, 2016 is the only occasion on which he has finished the race in a worse position than where he started.
🇫🇷 Esteban Ocon
From his three previous visits to the Japanese Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon has a 100% finish rate and has scored twice. His best result at Suzuka is sixth place, in 2017, while he also finished ninth in 2018. Ocon has never been out-qualified by a team-mate at the circuit, and has a best qualifying result of seventh in 2017. Ocon has never actually started the Japanese Grand Prix from the position in which he started, his best qualifying result of seventh became fifth on the grid in 2017.
🇫🇷 Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly scored points at the Japanese Grand Prix for the first time in 2019 with a seventh place finish. The Frenchman has a 100% finishing record at the track. He has reached Q3 in each of the last two Suzuka races, with a best qualifying result of seventh in 2018. 2019 was the first time he has out-qualified his team-mate at this circuit. Gasly raced at Suzuka in Super Formula in 2017. He finished tenth in the first round of the season. Suzuka was scheduled to hold the final two rounds of the Super Formula season too, for which Gasly missed the 2017 United States Grand Prix, but the races were cancelled due to the weather conditions.
🇯🇵 Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda makes his Japanese Grand Prix debut this weekend, becoming the first Japanese driver to take part in his home Grand Prix since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014. Tsunoda has previously raced at Suzuka in the F4 Japanese Championship and has had some impressive results, including winning both races in 2018.
🇩🇪 Sebastian Vettel
In all of his first seven visits to Suzuka, Sebastian Vettel finished on the podium. During that time, he won four times and finished on the podium on three occasions. He also secured his second Drivers’ Championship at the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix. In the last four Suzuka races, Vettel has finished on the podium once, with the runner-up spot in 2019. His only retirement here came in 2017. Vettel took his first pole position at the circuit in 2019 since securing four poles in a row at the event between 2009 and 2012. He has started from the front row here seven times in total. Vettel has never failed to reach Q3 at the circuit.
🇨🇦 Lance Stroll
Lance Stroll finished ninth in the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, making it the first time that he has scored points at Suzuka. He failed to finish in 2017, and finished seventeenth in the following year. Stroll has reached Q2 in each of the last two races at the circuit, recording a best qualifying position of twelfth in 2019. 2017 is the only time that the Canadian has been out-qualified by his team-mate here, while 2019 is the first time he has gained positions from where he started. In both 2012 and 2016, he lined up fifth on the final grid.
🇹🇭 Alex Albon
On his first Japanese Grand Prix appearance in 2019, Alex Albon finished in fourth place, which was the best result of his career at the time. He reached the final part of qualifying, starting sixth on the grid but failing to out-qualify his team-mate.
🇨🇦 Nicholas Latifi
Nicholas Latifi makes his first Japanese Grand Prix appearance in 2022. He has no past racing experience at Suzuka.
🇫🇮 Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas won the Japanese Grand Prix for the first time in 2019. While the Finn has a 100% finish rate at the track, his second place finish in 2018 is the only other time that he has finished on the podium at Suzuka. His seventeenth place finish in 2013 is the only time in seven appearances that Bottas has failed to score at the track. Bottas has never taken pole in Japan, but qualified on the front row in both 2017 and 2018. Strangely, those two years are the only two in which Bottas has been out-qualified by a team-mate at the track. Due to a grid penalty in 2017, 2018 is the only occasion that he has actually started on the front row.
🇨🇳 Zhou Guanyu
Zhou Guanyu will make his Japanese Grand Prix debut at Suzuka in 2022.
🇩🇪 Mick Schumacher
This will be Mick Schumacher’s first Japanese Grand Prix appearance. He has no past racing experience at Suzuka.
🇩🇰 Kevin Magnussen
Kevin Magnussen has made five previous appearances at the Japanese Grand Prix, finishing in the points only once. He finished eighth with Haas in 2017. His retirement in the following season is the only time that he’s failed to reach the chequered flag at the track. 2014 is the only year Magnussen has reached Q3 at Suzuka, qualifying in seventh place. That’s also the only time he’s out-qualified a team-mate at the venue.
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.