The weekend started on Saturday morning to see qualifying. The track is about an hour south of Nagoya (Japan's 3rd largest city) in a rural area. Despite its remoteness, the trains are very convenient. The tiny Suzuka Circuit Ino station is just a short 20 minute walk to the track. Along the way, there's plenty of people watching to do and there are plenty of cars to see on the roadway and the parking areas.
Outside one entrance, fans wait excitedly for the teams to show up. It's mostly vans full of pit crews and mechanics, but once in a while, you'll see a driver or team principal. Here is Maurizio Arrivabene in a Ferrari FF. I also saw Christian Horner in a big Infiniti QX80.
The merchandising available was astonishing. Here are some Suzuka F1 cookies for ten bucks.
I got a seat in section B2, at about the middle of that grandstand in the center of the photo.
My view from my seat. It was pretty incredible. I'll have to upload a short video I took of everything I could see from that vantage point. I highly recommend it.
The only "celebrity" that I saw was Susie Wolff/Stoddart, with an anime cutout of herself.
The Japanese fans are just that-- fanatical. In terms of costumes and team gear, they beat everyone else in the world by far. I actually yelped a little when I turned around in a line for curry and the guy waiting in line behind me was wearing a Japanese bull costume, with horns and everything.
Since deciding to go to Suzuka, I've wanted to ride the iconic ferris wheel. I wanted to see the track from high up and I thought it might help me conquer my fear of heights.
I did see the track from high up, but I was still frightened. I was alone so my car was already lopsided. I didn't want to switch to the other side because I didn't want the car to oscillate. I basically sat there, frozen, the entire time.
Almost to the top.
The view from the summit.
The car lots were not super interesting. There were a bunch of NSXs. I liked this shot of a Mercedes-McLaren, a McLaren, and a Mercedes.
The food was fantastic and beats every sporting venue I have ever been to. Over the two days, I had beef on a stick (twice), doner kebab, kara age (fried chicken), and beef curry rice.
Here's Free Practice 3. All the cars were running the entire time because FP1 and FP2 on Friday took place in the rain. For most of Saturday, it was hot and humid. I lost a lot of fluids that day. It was uncomfortable.
Here are some classic F1 cars on display. It was a real struggle getting close enough to them. It was a zoo of humanity.
Qualifying ended with a red flag because of Kvyat's nasty crash. Here's the ambulance responding to it. Because Rosberg was on top during the crash, he got pole position by default.
We ended the day with another visit to the tiny restaurant.
Sunday was a bit cooler, breezier, and less humid. I got to watch this conductor do his business. He was very methodical about his routine.
The race was a lot of fun to watch, but unfortunately, Hamilton passed Rosberg on the first corner of the first lap, and the results had been dictated already. I thought I was going to be disappointed with the noise of the new engines, but they were just fine. They were less loud as before, but that just meant you could hear all of the other fun noises the cars were making. Plus, there's no need for ear plugs.
The walk back to the train station after the race was a bit tight, but everyone was very orderly and we all got on the train rather quickly.
One of the parade cars during my walk back to the train station.