The circus moves seamlessly from China to Suzuka in Japan - scene of one of the best races of 2005: with protagonists Schumacher and Alonso and their constructors all but tied for the championships, there is all to play for in this penultimate round.
The technical figure of eight Suzuka circuit is one that most of the drivers like, particularly those who can drive around the car when it is imperfectly balanced: the combination of fast and slow corners requires a compromised set-up, which critically impacts the way the tyres wear; aerodynamics are important as the fast corners require higher downforce levels, but excessive drag down the straights is punished. A strong engine is well rewarded, allowing teams to carry more downforce for the high speed corners.
Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren Mercedes) closes on Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) on the penultimate lap of the 2005 Japanese GP © LAT
In 2005, a wet Saturday made qualifying something of a lottery; in the end, pole went to Ralf Schumacher and Toyota, who made the most of a drying track, narrowly beating Jenson Button's BAR. Giancarlo Fisichella's third spot was a solid performance, ahead of Christian Klien for Red Bull and Takuma Sato in the second BAR. David Coulthard's sixth place was solid reward for the first lap on the wet track.