There are no shortage of great vantage points for fans to watch the Japanese Grand Prix and with the purpose built test track being comprised of a wealth of varying types of corners it’s an excellent place to see F1 cars and drivers perform under a variety of challenges.
Best Grandstands at the Japanese Grand Prix
Main Grandstand: V1+V2
The main grandstand at Suzuka is Grandstand V. Overlooking the main straight it’s the best place to watch the teams preparing on the grid on race day as well as all the pit stops and other goings on in the pit lane.
It’s also in the area where the F1 Fanzone is, so whenever there’s not a lot happening on track you won’t have far to go for some entertainment off track.
The colossal grandstand is divided into two main sections; V1 – the lower part of the stand and V2 – the upper section.
© Musume Miyuki FLICKR
V1 is the whole lower half of the main grandstand, closest to the track. Unlike V2 you won’t be able to see very far so glimpses of distant corners won’t be possible. From most of the lower seats you’ll have difficultly seeing the pit stops too.
You do however get tantalizing close to the grid (if you’re in sections 1 or 2) and a sense of the immense speed of a Formula One car. While generally still a descent option, V2 offers a lot more value for just a small difference in price.
HIGH BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS
High enough to see over the fence, opposite the teams garages, covered from the elements and right in the heart of the action with the most passionate fans. Still not impressed? How about comfortable seats with seat backs, arm rests and – hold on to your F1 car rear wing with working DRS hats – cup holders!
V2 is further divided into 12 sections so even if you’ve got this far you might still be scratching your head wondering which one is best. I’ll break down the grandstand into 3 sections from left to right. That’s not exactly how it is when you order tickets but it will give you some idea of the lay of the land.
Kicking off with the left side of the stand (sections 1, 4, 7 and 10), closest to turn 1. The first thing to know is in Suzuka the teams garages run in the opposite direction from usual, so instead of the top teams pitting near the entry of the pitlane like at most circuits, here they are the last garages. That means if you’re a Ferrari or Mercedes fan and want to keep a close eye on them you probably should pick a section of the left part of V2
The handy thing about this is it also happens to be beside the front end of the grid where you’d expect those top teams to qualify, letting you continue to spy on them during the build up to lights out. It all makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
Where V2 really impresses compared to it’s V1 sibling is the extra viewing distance being up in the clouds gives you. From here you’ll see turns 1 and 2 and even make out the distant final corner preceding the straight.
The middle section (2, 5, 8 and 11) is alongside the lower half of the grid and opposite the smaller teams garages. There’s no view of any of the corners from here so all round its a bit less exciting, but still a very good option if a main straight grandstand is your cup of matcha green tea.
The right hand section isn’t so great if you want to see the pitstops and the grid. It is opposite parc ferme though and because the finish line is further back than the start line in Suzuka it’s opposite that too. The right hand section has the best view of the sweeping turn 18 and possibly a glimpse of the Dunlop Curve.
Finally if you want to have a good view of the podium its roughly between the mid and right hand sections of the grandstand.
There’s no obvious winner for the best section of this giant grandstand. Besides the usual rule of higher being better each section has it’s own merits. Hopefully this gives you an idea what those are and you can choose the seats that sound best to you.
Note: only the uppermost sections (10, 11 and 12) are properly covered by the roof.
HIGH BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS BEST IN PRICE RANGE
Seats in Q2 stand come highly recommended and are about the most popular at Suzuka. Seats to the left (block 1) of the grandstand offer the best views of the last corner and pitlane entrance and to the right of the stand (block 3) your view extends as far as the legendary 130-R. More distant glimpses even include the Degner and First Curve. Best of all though, every seat is in a prime position to see the Casio Triangle chicane.
The Casio Triangle is the tight, low-speed chicane that lies between 130-R and the Final Curve. It’s one of Suzuka’s main overtaking spots and it’s seen a lot of action over the years. If drivers aren’t making crowd pleasing overtaking moves here and looking like a hero, chances are they’re trying and ending up looking a bit silly.
One rivalry more synonymous with Suzuka than any other is that of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Chasing Prost for the 1989 championship, Senna made a move on his French team mate into this chicane near the end of the race.
Prost, knowing that if neither driver finished the race he would win the title was predictably uncooperative and the McLaren drivers collided, missing the corner. It looked like it was race over for both of them but Senna, with a helping push from the marshals, got going again and went on to win the race, only to be immediately disqualified for missing the corner.
It’s the stuff of F1 legend and it’s for this and countless other memorable moments that we love Suzuka. From these seats you get to see firsthand the very place where all this drama unfolded, reminisce about races past and anticipate what might be yet to come.
MID BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS OVERTAKING SPOT GOOD FOR PHOTOS BEST IN PRICE RANGE F1S CHOICE
Q1 is bit like ‘Q2 Lite’. Significantly cheaper but with much less wow factor. The uppermost row is at the same height of of the lower row of its more desirable neighbor. That’s the first problem. Not only can fans sat here not see so far, but it also leads to the second problem – the dreaded catch fencing. This doesn’t totally ruin your view of the track but it sure does make for ugly photos.
The positioning of the Q1 grandstand means that while fans in the seats nearest the chicane can enjoy quite a decent view of it, fans at the other end of the grandstand might feel a bit left out. This is a grandstand that’s better suited to witness the immense acceleration of a Formula 1 car as they speed towards the last corner.
MID BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS
A strong contender for Suzuka’s best seats are those of Grandstand B2. Hurtling down the main straight before braking impossibly late into the apex of turn 1, this is a classic Suzuka corner and one of the most common overtaking spots. Overtaking aside, watching F1 cars disappear into the snakelike turns 3 and 4 is simply breathtaking.
There are three zones in this curved grandstand that wraps itself around turn 1 so the view is slightly different depending on where you are, with either a better view up the main straight from block 3 or a better view through the esses from block 1.
These seats in the B2 grandstand have a commanding view of this section of the track and as it’s elevated there’s none of that irksome catch fencing to ruin a good photo.
MID BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS OVERTAKING SPOT
B1 has a view of the same piece of track as B2 but lower down and with the safety fencing between your eyes and the track its obviously not as popular.
Still, the position of the grandstand at this very active part of the race track won’t disappoint and it’s a decent mid budget option.
MID BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS OVERTAKING SPOT
Often copied, never equaled, turns 3 to 6 at Suzuka are the ultimate test for a Formula 1 car. Requiring high downforce, this twisty section of track will quickly show up any shortcomings of a teams aero package.
Though it’s all Grandstand D, one big ‘S’ shaped grandstand that weaves its way around the circuit’s S curves, its really two distinct vantage points either side of turn 5.
Seating in this section is on old wooden bleacher style seats and there’s no shelter if it rains. Just a short walk away though is an area with food stalls and rest rooms, as well as shelter from any passing typhoons.
Sections 4 and 5
The better of the Grandstand D sections present you with a head on view of the cars as they wind there way towards you from a distant turn 1. The best drivers in the best cars on the planet threading a perfect line through here is an impressive sight.
As mentioned creature comforts are lacking here but this part of the grandstand offers a fantastic view and is a place motor racing purists will relish. When the feeling returns to your backside in a couple of days you’ll be glad you decided to sit here.
MID BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS
Sections 1, 2 and 3
Following the action from the exit of turn 5 to the entry to the Dunlop Curve are sections 1,2 and 3. The view from here encompasses less of the track than neighboring sections and usually a less eventful part of the track at that.
Most of the seats are orientated to see the cars from the rear as they exit turn 5. Not the end of the world but many fans prefer a more front on view. What really separates these seats from section 4 and 5 though is the absence of a giant screen.
LOW BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS
From Grandstand I you get a great view of the hairpin from the time the cars exit from under the overpass on the other side of the bend, braking hard into the hairpin and speeding away.
The view is a perfect demonstration of the braking and acceleration ability of an F1 car with the slow apex speed making it’s a prime spot for photo opportunities.
Sweetening the deal, overtaking is possible into the hairpin. It’s by no means guaranteed, depending largely on whether the sport’s current aero regulations make close following of a competitor possible. Local hero Kobayashi made five passes here in 2010 on his way to a podium finish, proving it can be done .
Note that it is a bit of a long trek out to this area. It takes about 30 minutes to walk here from the main entrance where most of the extra entertainment is but there is another good sized food and drinks area within 5 minutes as well as more basic options nearby.
MID BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS OVERTAKING SPOT GOOD FOR PHOTOS