Suzuka extends contract to host Formula One

2 Comments

Suzuka Circuit in Japan has extended its contract to host the Japanese Grand Prix that will see Formula One remain at the track until 2018.

Officials from the circuit met with Bernie Ecclestone at Spa-Francorchamps yesterday ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix and put pen to paper on a deal that ensures Suzuka will host the Japanese GP for the next five years.

Suzuka’s history in Formula One is extensive despite only hosting its first grand prix in 1987. In its third year, the track witnessed the first of many incidents between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost when the McLaren drivers crashed into each other when fighting for the lead. One year later, the same incident occurred. As a result, the circuit has become iconic in the rivalry between the two drivers. Other notable events include Kimi Raikkonen’s last lap overtake in 2005, Michael Schumacher’s engine failure in 2006 and Sebastian Vettel clinching his second title in 2011.

The circuit did lose the rights to host Formula One in 2007 to the Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway, but the circuit hosted the Japanese Grand Prix for just two years before an agreement was reached that would see it share the hosting rights with Suzuka. Eventually though, Fuji pulled out of the deal, meaning that Formula One would remain at Suzuka until 2014, with this agreement extending that deal.

This contract extension also coincides with the confirmation that Honda (owners of Suzuka) will be returning to Formula One as an engine supplier in 2015, teaming up with McLaren in an attempt to re-kindle the glory days of McLaren-Honda in the late 1980s.

‘Still quite early’ for Ricciardo to think about Red Bull F1 future

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Daniel Ricciardo feels it is “still quite early” to make a decision about his Red Bull Formula 1 future despite seeing teammate Max Verstappen announce on Friday he would be staying with the team until 2020.

Verstappen, 20, put pen to paper on an enhanced F1 contract with Red Bull, with his previous deal due to expire at the end of next season in parallel to Ricciardo’s own agreement.

Ricciardo was asked following practice on Friday why he is yet to strike a new deal for himself with Red Bull, and explained he is in no rush to make a final decision when he has over a year to run on his current contract.

“It’s not that I’ve said no to anything. It’s just still quite early I think,” Ricciardo explained.

“People talked a little bit about contracts and the silly season for next year, but I thought that would still happen next year. It’s still quite early.

“If I’m to try and extract some positives out of his news it’s that it gives us good confidence for next year. He and his management see a lot of positives in the team to continue like that.

“I’m 100 per cent here next year, I can at least say that, and I think it gives both of us confidence that we’ll keep progressing the way we are.”

Red Bull said upon announcing Verstappen’s new deal that it wants to “build a team around him”, with the 20-year-old standing out as a once-in-a-generation talent.

The focus surrounding Verstappen has not left Ricciardo feeling as though he is in the shade or in any way playing second-fiddle to the Dutchman, stressing he has no internal concerns at Red Bull.

“For sure, as far as media goes, he certainly gets a lot of attention. He’s broken records for his age and things like that, so rightly so,” Ricciardo said.

“Take the media out of it, as far as inside the team, new parts on the car, things like this, there’s always been parity and equality.”

Verstappen is only the third driver to commit to a deal beyond the end of next season, following Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari and Fernando Alonso at McLaren on multi-year contracts.

All 10 F1 teams have at least one free seat for 2019, making Ricciardo a possible candidate for seats with either Mercedes or Ferrari were he to consider a move away from Red Bull.

Speaking to British broadcaster Sky Sports, Red Bull F1 advisor Helmut Marko said he felt Ricciardo was “putting himself on the market” by waiting to make a decision on his future, but that talks would take place when possible.