One of the classic races on the Formula 1 schedule occurs this weekend, with the Japanese Grand Prix from the Suzuka International Circuit. It’s the second race of a back-to-back after Malaysia and third race in the Singapore-Malaysia-Japan early fall Asian swing on the calendar.
Additionally, the Formula 2 series has a standalone race weekend in Jerez, Spain as it closes on the end of its season.
You can see all the action of both races this weekend on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from Suzuka and Jerez.
F1 JAPANESE GRAND PRIX
Live coverage of Sunday’s race begins at midnight ET with an hour of pre-race in F1 Countdown, with lights out at 1 a.m. ET. Additional live TV coverage occurs for qualifying at 2 a.m. ET on Saturday, October 7 and free practice two at 1 a.m. ET on Friday, October 6 – all these on NBCSN. Free practices one and three will air on the NBC Sports App.
Since the Japanese Grand Prix returned to Suzuka in 2009 after a two-year detour to Fuji Speedway in 2007 and 2008, Mercedes AMG Petronas and Red Bull Racing have won seven of the eight races – the lone exception being Jenson Button in a McLaren Mercedes in 2011.
Sebastian Vettel won four times for Red Bull in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013, winning the World Championship in each of the last three years.
Meanwhile at Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton won in 2014 and 2015 and Nico Rosberg here last year, and each has gone onto win the championship that year.
That means it’s been five years on the trot that the winner in Suzuka has gone on to win the World Championship.
With Hamilton on a 34-point lead with five races remaining, he can move even closer to his fourth title – which would match Vettel – if he can win this weekend.
Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari will be looking to stop the bleeding after two brutal races in Singapore and Malaysia for the team. The start line crash at Singapore saw Vettel’s deficit in the championship increase from three points to 28, while it grew a further six points last weekend after engine issues in qualifying and a rally back to fourth place from last on the grid. Kimi Raikkonen didn’t even get that far, unable to start, and after two races where he hasn’t completed a single race lap the Finn will be keen to get back on the board this weekend.
Ferrari hasn’t won here since Michael Schumacher did so in 2004. Raikkonen won a year later, one of his most famous victories in 2005, from 17th on the grid and after a last lap pass of Giancarlo Fisichella.
Malaysia Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen was second here last year to Rosberg, Hamilton third after a brutal start saw him drop back. Verstappen made his Grand Prix weekend debut here as a Friday driver in 2014. Somewhat surprisingly, Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo has never stood on a podium in Suzuka, his best finish here only fourth in 2014.
As ever, Fernando Alonso is the only other active Japanese Grand Prix winner in the field, having won for Renault at both Suzuka (2006) and Fuji (2008). But for Alonso and McLaren Honda together, Suzuka’s been a site of agony the last two years, and the site of Alonso’s infamous “GP2 engine” radio transmission on the manufacturer’s home soil. Teammate Stoffel Vandoorne has been on excellent form of late with back-to-back seventh place finishes, and has experience in Japan from his time racing in Super Formula.
Here’s the F1 schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:
- Practice 1: Thursday, Oct. 5, 9 p.m.-10:30 p.m. ET (Streaming)
- Practice 2: Friday, Oct. 6, 1 a.m.-2:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
- Practice 3: Friday, Oct. 6, 11 p.m.-12 a.m. ET (Streaming)
- Qualifying: Saturday, Oct. 7, 2 a.m.-3:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
- Pre-Race: Sunday, Oct. 8, 12 a.m.-1 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
- Race: Sunday, Oct. 8, 1 a.m.-3 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
- Post-Race: Sunday, Oct. 8, 3 a.m.-3:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
- Race (Replay): Sunday, Oct. 8, 9 p.m.-11 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
The next race is the United States Grand Prix, on October 22.
F2 AT JEREZ
Formula 2’s lone standalone round of the season comes this weekend from Jerez in Spain, nearly 20 years on exactly from when the 1997 Formula 1 World Championship was decided in dramatic fashion after Michael Schumacher contacted Jacques Villeneuve at the Dry Sac corner, and Villeneuve won his first and only title on October 26, 1997.
A driver who could one day become an F1 World Champion, Monegasque star Charles Leclerc of Prema Racing, is poised to wrap the F2 title this weekend in Jerez, as he enters with a 59-point lead over Oliver Rowland.
Leclerc has won five times this season although hasn’t done so since Silverstone in July. He was disqualified at the Spa feature race after winning, following a technical infringement found in post-race inspection.
Both races will be streamed live via the NBC Sports App, with TV coverage occurring Saturday night, October 7 at 11 p.m. ET on NBCSN. This will be the lead-in to live Japanese Grand Prix race coverage on NBCSN at midnight ET.
F2 has this doubleheader race in Jerez, and then is off until the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend November 25-26, concluding its season along with F1.
Here’s the F2 schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:
- Race 1: Saturday, Oct. 7, 8 a.m.-9:05 a.m. ET (Streaming)
- Race 2: Sunday, Oct. 8, 8 a.m.-8:50 a.m. ET (Streaming)
- TV coverage: Saturday, Oct. 7, 11 p.m.-12 a.m. ET (NBCSN)