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.