The Japan it is nicknamed the “Land of the Rising Sun”, but in Formula One it would be more correct to call it the “Land of Destiny”, because this archipelago located on the eastern edge of Eurasia has often represented the place where crucial chapters in the history of the Circus were written . The same applies, for better or worse, to the Ferrari.
The first of them concerns the inaugural edition, held in 1976. The last one round of a troubled season is played under a flood. Niki Lauda, still suffering from the Nürburgring fire from which he miraculously survived, pulls back and decides to voluntarily retire after a few laps. The choice gives the world title to James Hunt and it damages the relationship forever between Enzo Ferrari and the Austrian driver, who after having won the 1977 World Championship against everything and everyone, will leave Maranello slamming the door.
The 1987 has another Austrian as its protagonist, that is Gerhard Berger, as well as a completely different meaning. The impressive development implemented on the F1-87 leads the Red car to dominate the Grand Prix. In this way, the Prancing Horse returns to winning ways after 37 GPs, interrupting what was at the time the longest fast ever. It’s November 1st, but in Maranello the bells are ringing in celebration.
F1 World Constructors’ Ranking 2023: Ferrari returns to victory and brings Mercedes closer
The 1990 it is, vice versa, a painful edition. Alain Prost And Ayrton Senna they are fighting to win the World Cup. The Brazilian starts from pole position, but the favorite is the Frenchman, who starts from second place (at the time located on the clean side of the track) and who worked all weekend on race pace. As expected, the transalpine has a better start than the Paulista, who decides to mathematically put an end to the world championship contest in his own way. Magic rams the Professor at the first corner, taking revenge for the accident cunningly caused a year earlier by his bitter rival.
In the 1997 the second Ferrari victory arrives in the land of the Rising Sun. It imposes itself Michael Schumacherauthor of a masterful run with the help of Eddie Irvine, who that day appeared literally transfigured, so much so that he went on the run in the initial phase of the GP. The Northern Irishman, however, gave up the first success of his career to help his teammate reopen the fight for the World Championship with Jacques Villeneuve.
The 1999 It’s bittersweet. In truth, the bitterness is predominant, because Mika Häkkinen dominates the scene and turns the situation around in the race for the Championship to the detriment of Irvine, who after the injury suffered by Schumacher at Silverstone found himself sensationally in the running to become Champion. Nonetheless, the German’s second place and the Briton’s third allow Ferrari to prevail in the Constructors’ World Championshipmitigating a world championship drought that had lasted for 16 years.
The 2000 it is instead the season of apotheosis. Michael Schumacher he misses the start, just like a year earlier, finding himself chasing Häkkinen. This time, however, the German manages to reverse the situation along the way, overtaking the Finn thanks to a series of very fast laps before his final pit stops. With this statement, Schumi reports the Drivers’ World Championship in Maranello for the first time after 21 years.
The Teutonic also imposes itself in 2001In the 2002 It is in the 2004but these are the most classic icings on the cake, as in those seasons the title has already been mathematically won during the summer.
In the middle there is the pulsating edition of 2003, characterized by a starting grid distorted by the vagaries of the weather. Schumacher has to defend a nine-point lead over Kimi Räikkönen, but everything seems to be going wrong for the German, who remains stuck in the middle of the group. In the lead is the Rossa Rubens Barrichello, who makes no mistakes and passes under the checkered flag first, blocking the way for any ambitions of the Finn. In this way, Schumiwho nevertheless managed to gradually climb back into the points, can celebrate the 6th World Cup of his career, that of overtaking Juan Manuel Fangio.
The last two notable episodes are atrocious. In the 2006 Schumacher is firmly in the lead of the race, but breaks his engine and is forced to raise the white flag in the furious tug-of-war with Fernando Alonso for the conquest of the title, which the Spaniard will comfortably grab at the following GP in Brazil. Six years later, in 2012, conversely it is the Spaniard himself who finds himself on the wrong side of circumstances. At the start the Iberian was the victim of a contact with Räikkönen’s Lotus due to which he was forced to retire which would prove decisive in the race for the World Championship. With hindsight, an 8th place in Suzuka would have been enough for the Asturian to become World Champion…
FERRARI’S NUMBERS IN THE JAPANESE GP
5 Michael Schumacher (1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004)
1 Gerhard Berger (1987)
1 Rubens Barrichello (2003)
POLE POSITION: 10
6 Michael Schumacher
(1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004)
1 Gerhard Berger (1987)
1 Rubens Barrichello (2003)
1 Felipe Massa (2006)
1 Sebastian Vettel (2019)
FASTEST LAPS: 7
3 Michael Schumacher (1998, 1999, 2002)
2 Sebastian Vettel (2016, 2018)
1 Rubens Barrichello (2004)
1 Felipe Massa (2008)
1977 Carlos Reutemann (2nd)
1987 Gerhard Berger (1st)
1994 Jean Alesi (3rd)
1996 Michael Schumacher (2nd)
1997 Michael Schumacher (1st), Eddie Irvine (3rd)
1998 Eddie Irvine (2nd)
1999 Michael Schumacher (2nd), Eddie Irvine (3rd)
2000 Michael Schumacher (1st)
2001 Michele Schumacher (1st)
2002 Michael Schumacher (1st), Rubens Barrichello (2nd)
2003 Rubens Barrichello (1st)
2004 Michael Schumacher (1st)
2006 Felipe Massa (2nd)
2007 Kimi Räikkönen (3rd)
2008 Kimi Räikkönen (3rd)
2010 Fernando Alonso (3rd)
2011 Fernando Alonso (2nd)
2012 Felipe Massa (2nd)
2015 Sebastian Vettel (3rd)
2019 Sebastian Vettel (2nd)
2022 Charles Leclerc (3rd)
THE PRECEDENTS OF THE FERRARI DRIVERS IN SUZUKA
2018 (SAUBER) – Withdrawn
2019 (FERRARI) – 6th
2022 (FERRARI) – 3rd
CARLOS SAINZ Jr.
2015 (RED BULL) – 10th
2016 (RED BULL) – 17th
2017 (RED BULL) – Withdrawn
2018 (RENAULT) – 10th
2019 (MC LAREN) – 5th
2022 (FERRARI) – Withdrawn
Photo: Angelo Orsi/La Presse