Suzuka Circuit Guide by Wolf Feather

Version: Final | Updated: 04/12/03 | Printable Version

Jamie Stafford/Wolf Feather

Initial Version Completed: March 27, 2003
FINAL VERSION Completed:   April 12, 2003


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Spacing and Length
Circuit History
Driving Instructions
Sample Lap Times
Contact Information


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Why a guide specific to a single circuit in Auto Modellista?  
Suzuka Circuit can be a bit tricky; those who have raced the 
circuit in other games (such as F1 2002 or Grand Prix 
Challenge) are already quite familiar with the technical 
expertise required to be successful at this venue.  Suzuka 
Circuit is likely to be a challenge for those who have never 
raced at this venue in other racing games.  

This world-famous circuit in figure-eight style is used for 
many forms of auto and motorcycle racing.  One of the most 
famous sights of the 'circuit' is the large Ferris Wheel on 
the left side behind the main grandstands as cars pass along 
the Pit Straight.  In terms of racing action, Suzuka Circuit 
is perhaps best known to Westerners for the annual F1 Grand 
Prix of Japan, generally the final race - and sometimes also 
thechampionship-deciding race - of a given F1 season in 
recent years.  

Suzuka was once the official test circuit for Honda, with the 
figure-eight configuration ensuring that there were a near-
equal number of both left-hand and right-hand turns.  
Similarly, the circuit was purposely designed to include as 
many types of corners and situations as possible, which makes 
the Suzuka circuit more technically difficult than it might 
at first appear to Suzuka novices.  

All this makes proper vehicle set-up a bit of a challenge, as 
a car must be able to brake quickly, corner with as little 
effort as possible, and still be able to attain high speeds 
in several key areas of the circuit.  Those with extensive 
experience at Suzuka Circuit in other auto racing games - 
especially simulation-based games, where proper vehicle 
tuning is often crucial to success - will be better able to 
find the right vehicle set-up to produce success in races at 
this famous and challenging venue.  

Please note that some of the information in this guide come 
from my Circuit Histories Guide and my World-famous Racing 
Circuits Guide, with appropriate modifications.  


In operation since at least 1962 and the proud host of F1 
races since 1987, Suzuka Circuit is the host of many forms of 
motorsport - including F1 and other Formula series, and 
motorbikes (including MotoGP) - as well as several racing 
schools.  Suzuka comprises two different circuits: the 5.821-
kilometer (3.638-mile) International Racing Course (used for 
F1 events) and the 1.264-kilometer (0.790-mile) Southern 
Course (which itself contains numerous configurations).  

F1 winners at Suzuka: Gerhard Berger (1987 and 1991), Ayrton 
Senna (1988), Alessandro Nannini (1989), Nelson Piquet 
(1990), Riccardo Patrese (1992), Ayrton Senna (1993), Damon 
Hill (1994 and 1996), Michael Schumacher (1995, 1997, and 
2000-2002), and Mika Hakkinen (1998 and 1999).  

Japanese fans will long remember the 2002 F1 Grand Prix of 
Japan, both because only ONE Honda-powered car finished the 
race, and because it was driven by Japanese driver Sato 
Takuma, scoring his first points of the season (at the final 
race of the season) and catapulting the Jordan team ahead of 
Jaguar in the Constructors Championship.  Simply listening to 
the thousands of spectators whenever Sato drove past a 
grandstand was incredibly inspiring even to those watching 
the race on television :-)   

Unfortunately, the official Web site 
( is almost exclusively in 
Japanese. Many section titles are also given in English (such 
as Event Calendar, Group Enjoy!, and Circuit Queen), but the 
only truly-English area is a single page with downloadable 
files of information for buying tickets to the next Grand 
Prix of Japan.  


Pit Straight: Good speeds can be achieved here with strong 
acceleration out of the chicane.  The Pit Lane rejoins the 
course from the right near the end of the Pit Straight.  The 
solid white line protruding from the right at Pit Exit and 
bisecting the raceway up to the entry for Turn 1 is the blend 
line used for the F1 Grand Prix of Japan; cars exiting Pit 
Lane must keep to the right of this blend line until the line 
ends, or else a penalty is assigned to the driver.  

Turn 1: This right-hand (almost double-apex) hairpin requires 
moderate braking on approach, and you will likely be tapping 
the brakes through the hairpin itself.  This begins an uphill 
climb, and it is difficult to see the left side of the 
pavement on exit, so it is imperative to be careful not to 
run too wide and end up out in the sand.  There is really no 
reason to overrun the hairpin on entry, as the corner is 
quite easily identifiable.  

Turns 2-5 (S Curves): This is by far the hardest section of 
the course  tight left-right-left-right corners - except in 
the lowest-powered vehicles in Auto Modellista.  The first of 
the 'S' curves can likely be taken at full speed, with light 
or moderate braking for Turn 3.  Turn 4 can be taken either 
flat-out (not suggested) or with light braking.  No matter 
what, slam HARD on the brakes for Turn 5, the tightest corner 
of the 'S' section.  This entire segment of the course 
continues the uphill climb, making Turn 5 particularly more 
difficult.  There is ample recovery room on either side of 
the course through the uphill 'S' section.  The 'S' section 
is a good place to pass slower cars, if you have enough 
confidence in your brakes to pass during corner entry.  No 
matter what, you will NOT be surviving the 'S' curves unless 
you use the brakes generously - or use only second or third 

Turn 6 (Dunlop Curve): This sweeping left-hand corner is the 
crest of the initial uphill segment of the course.  However, 
it is best to brake lightly or at least lift off the 
accelerator to keep from sliding out into the grass and sand 
on the right side of the long corner.  

Turn 7 (Degner): Here, the course turns to the right in 
anticipation of the figure-eight pattern.  Light braking will 
likely be required, but it is possible to speed through here 
without braking.  To the outside of the course is a wide 
expanse of grass and sand in case you overrun the corner.  

Turn 8 (Degner): The final right-hand corner before passing 
underneath the bridge, this turn is tighter than the previous 
corner, thus moderate or heavy braking and a steady racing 
line will be required here if using a high-powered vehicle.  
This is also another prime passing zone.  

Straightaway: Accelerate strongly out of Degner and you may 
be able to pass one or two cars as you race underneath the 
bridge.  The course fades to the right here before reaching 
the tight Hairpin.  The fade is a good place to begin braking 
for Hairpin.  

Turn 9 (Hairpin): This is a tight left-hand hairpin which 
begins the next uphill segment of the Suzuka circuit.  It is 
possible to shortcut a little here, but the grass combined 
with the angle of the hill here will really slow you down and 
perhaps cause you to spin and/or slide.  Be careful not to 
accelerate too soon, or you will be out in the grass.  There 
is a sizeable patch of kitty litter for those who miss the 
hairpin completely or lock the wheels.  

Turn 10: Continuing the uphill run, the course here makes a 
wide sweep to the right.  Any braking here means losing track 

Turns 11 and 12 (Spoon): This is a tricky pair of left-hand 
corners, in a decreasing-radius 'U' formation.  The first 
corner is fairly standard, requiring little braking (if any).  
However, Turn 12 is both tighter AND slopes downhill, so 
judicious usage of brakes and a pristine racing line are both 
important here in a medium- or high-powered vehicle, 
especially if attempting to pass a slower vehicle.  If you 
repeatedly misjudge any single corner at Suzuka, it will be 
Turn 12; fortunately, there is plenty of recovery room on 
both sides of the pavement here.  However, do not roll up on 
the rumble strips or the grass on the inside of Turn 12, as 
that will almost certainly cause you to lose control and 
likely spin.  

Straightaway: Power out of Spoon and rocket down the 
straightaway, passing multiple cars.  After you cross the 
bridge, start thinking about the chicane.  

Turn 13 (130R): Shortly after crossing the bridge, the course 
turns gently to the left.  Light braking or - even better - a 
quick lift off the accelerator - is almost certainly required 
at 130R to keep from sliding off-course, although experts can 
speed through here at full throttle with an excellent racing 
line and no encumbering traffic.  

Turns 14-16 (Chicane): This is the trickiest part of the 
course (even moreso than Hairpin), and quite likely the one 
area which will determine whether or not you can execute a 
good, low, record-breaking lap time.  The chicane begins with 
a moderate turn to the right, then a tight left-hand corner, 
then ends with a wider turn to the right and empties out onto 
the Pit Straight; all of this is on a downhill slope, adding 
to the inherent difficulty of Chicane.  Fortunately, the 
inside of the chicane is filled with only sand, not barriers, 
but shortcutting the chicane will likely result in a loss of 
control (due to the rumble strips and the kitty litter), or 
at least cause you to slow tremendously.  Be careful coming 
out of Turn 15 so that you don't go too wide and bump the 
right side of the vehicle on the Pit Lane barrier.  


To give readers an idea of the lap times possible at Suzuka 
Circuit, some sample lap times are presented here.  These 
sample lap times were all accomplished in Arcade Mode: Time 
Attack, using the Auto Tune feature (which automatically 
adjusts the chosen vehicle's tuning to what is best suited 
for the chosen race venue).  

Vehicle                       Style          HP      Time
---------------------------   ------------   -----   --------
Acura Integra Type R          Style 2        190     2:18.321
Chevrolet Corvette            Style 1        350     2:12.221
Dodge Viper GTS               Style 2        450     2:06.355
Ford Mustang GT               Style 1        260     2:27.573
Nissan 350Z                   Normal         270     2:15.425
Suzuki Alto Works RSX         Normal         63      2:35.769
Tommy Kaira ZZ-S              Style 2        197     2:03.820
Toyota Sports 800             Normal         44      2:42.955


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