Video: Five Suzuka classic moments
Suzuka in Japan throws up a million memories. It is an event looked forward to by most – drivers especially. Controversy, emotion, incidents, and a fantastic circuit. That’s Suzuka. (Image: Cahier Archive)
By Andy Hallbery
The track itself is, like Spa, one of the favourites on the calendar. So here are five moments that sum the place up, three of which involve Ayrton Senna!
So let’s start with Senna versus Eddie Irvine in 1993. With Senna and Alain Prost having clashed twice at Suzuka previously (see below), Irvine made his F1 debut with Jordan at a track he knew well. Having been lapped the Irishman was quicker than Senna, so… He unlapped himself!
The move from the New Kid on the Block did not go down well with the race leader. Fuelled by a Schnapps or two he went to visit Irvine after the race. Irvine was his nonchalant self, that wound Senna up even more, and the Brazilian eventually punched him. “This is Formula 1,” said Senna. “Not go-karts.” (Apologies for the quality of the video, but it’s worth it!)
It was Friday qualifying, 1997. Williams-Honda driver Nigel Mansell was battling with teammate Nelson Piquet for the world title that weekend. He lost control. And Piquet became World Champion.
Prost versus Senna, 1989. How deliberate was their collision at the chicane? One person in no doubt about who was to blame was Senna. The McLaren teammates were both in contention. The repercussion followed the following year.
Revenge? Almost certainly, yes! Dubious as it was, it won Senna the 1990 world title at the first corner. Anyone who has seen the Senna movie will know how upset he was in 1989, when he took pole and asked to start on the cleaner side of the track. FISA as it was then said no. The following year Prost took pole, Senna second. That time FISA switched the grid sides. That was a red rag to a bull for Senna. French politics? The outcome was fairly predictable…
History was made in 1996 when Damon Hill won the World Championship at Suzuka for Williams. He was – and to this date still is – the only second generation World Champion, follow in his father’s steps.
Above anything else, Suzuka always gives us something exciting. A great track, totally fanatical fans, and memorable moments.