Wasn’t it great to see drivers taking different lines around the same corners at Suzuka during the Japanese GP? Okay, the race itself wasn’t the most memorable to watch, but the fact that the cars didn’t just follow each other like robots through each corner just looked, well, so refreshing.
And as for the way Captain Banzai himself, Kamui Kobayashi, seemed to be able to find grip at the hairpin – not just on the inside line but as Jaime Alguersuari discovered the hard way, right around the outside as well – he made the whole thing look like F1 from yesteryear. In which the cars had way more power than grip, and making them go quickly was more the responsibility of the driver, not merely the aerodynamicist.
Why can’t more circuits be designed like Suzuka? Why does Hermann Tilke still have a monopoly on designing all the new F1 circuits, despite having come up with only one truly decent track so far (Turkey). And what is it about the Suzuka layout that allows F1 cars to pass one another so easily?
I believe it is Suzuka’s unique combination of bumps, heavily cambered low speed corners, its old school fear factor and the positioning of the braking areas following the medium to high speed corners that makes it so right for contemporary F1.