Land Of The Rising Sun - Japan GP 2009

Land Of The Rising Sun - Japan GP 2009 I've been looking forward to coming to Suzuka for a while now. I was last here in 2003 for a MotoGP race. It was an unhappy weekend, with many accidents culminating in the death of Japanese hero Daijiro Kato. After that, MotoGP never returned, destined to pound around the uneventful Motegi track.

I returned to photograph F1 in 2007 after a few years away in MotoGP. I enjoyed the races at Fuji with its breathtaking location, but it was Suzuka that I really wanted to return to. A real racers' track...

I like to spend a couple of hours at each race walking the track to reacquaint myself with its character. Trees can be cut back creating new effects with light and shadows, sponsor's boards positions can ruin a great shot, new buildings can destroy backgrounds etc etc.

Walking in the reverse direction to the cars enables me to view the track as if photographing it, thus being able to pick out shots not necessarily obvious on a map or on a drive around the circuit. It also allows you to capture relaxed images of the drivers as they do there own track walks.

So it was to the last chicane I ventured to start my lap. I was immediately at the scene of one of the sport's more contentious incidents, where Prost collided with Senna (or was it the other way round?) in 1989. From here, their intense rivalry really began, taking both men to the very edges of genius in their quest for victory. Next it's 130R which again, is a corner with previous. The best remembered being Allan McNish's massive 2002 shunt where his Toyota penetrated the barriers after its driver lost it on the exit. 130R was slightly reprofiled after this, but is still a huge corner that the drivers relish.

The journey from here to Spoon Corner is little step back into F1 circuit history. With around 10 feet either side of the edge of the track before the crash barriers start, there is no margin for error. A little too early on the power out of Spoon can lead to the kind of wreckage reserved for an Indianapolis accident, as can a misjudged overtaking move on the run down to 130R.

The alternative way to enjoy this part of the track is to walk out of Spoon at around 6pm as the sun begins its journey to the other side of the world. As the sound of the generators slip away, a cacophony of sounds from the jungle replaces it . Here's where what's left of the original flora and fauna survives transporting you to any jungle you so desire. All you have to do is close your eyes and enjoy...

I could wax lyrical about the rest of this magnificent track, but I won't. Instead, all I will say is we that were indeed treated to a weekend of compelling motorsport action. At a track where understeer is the safer but slower option, it became apparent who was chancing their luck with a set up more along the lines of oversteer, with qualifying taking nearly 30 extra minutes due to the numerous accidents that ensued.

I'm sure there will be work on the run off areas and gravel traps for next year, but I hope they are not to extensive, as Suzuka offers both photographers and drivers a fantastic challenge. That of being able to push the limits in both fields.

To enjoy my images from the Japanese Grand Prix, please visit the formula 1 section of my website and select Japan.

posted on 7th October 2009 12:00amview comments (0)leave a comment