The Suzuka International Racing Course is one of the most prestigious and challenging racing venues in the world. Suzuka has held all but two Japanese Grand Prix since it joined the Formula 1 calendar back in 1987 and the track has remained almost unchanged in that time.
With the incredible downforce levels available to today’s F1 cars, a lap of Suzuka is faster than ever before and, as a result, mistakes are punished here more than most tracks. When you add rain into that mix too, a lap keeps you on edge throughout its duration.
Like always, setup is key around here. You can be as quick as the esports competitors, but if your car isn‘t tuned correctly, you won’t be fast. Rain is surprisingly rare in this part of Japan in October, but there’s been wet races in the past most notably in 1993, ’94 and the tragic race in 2014. There’s also a typhoon predicted to hit the circuit this weekend, so expect some wet running in qualifying and the race. Here’s our guide to the best setup in wet conditions in Japan in F1 2019!
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The biggest alteration you need to be make to your dry setup for wet running is the downforce levels generated by the front and rear wings. With less grip available from the treaded wet weather tyres, you need to crank the wing angles up to compensate.
I found that 7 on the front and 8 on the rear provides ample stability for the car to sail around the high-speed corners such as the 130R and Degna.
Surprisingly, the differential settings I use in the dry worked really well in the wet in Japan. Traction is rarely your biggest issue in Suzuka, there’s only 2 low-speed corner exits (the Hairpin and the Chicane), so you can opt for a very locked setup, for outright traction rather than a smooth transmission.
For on-throttle differential, 75% is the highest you can get away with, whereas for off-throttle, you can crank it all the way to 100.
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Tyre wear isn’t an issue around Suzuka, especially in the slower racing for the wet conditions, so you can be adventurous with the toe and camber angles.
You can’t go all the way to the lowest values, though, as although this provides the highest levels of grip to the car, it also wears your tyres out faster. -2.70 & -1.20 for the camber and 0.07 & 0.26 for the toe angles is the lowest you can get away with while avoiding doing a 2-stop strategy.
The curbs around Japan should be treated like they’re lava, don’t use them, especially in the wet. Even the softest suspension settings of 1/1 on the springs isn’t enough to stop you spinning out in the S curves if you ride them, you need a higher than normal ride height of 4 on the front and 5 on the rear to avoid facing the wrong way.
There are plenty of high-speed direction changes in Japan, not least in the aforementioned S section. Therefore, your anti-roll bar has to be tailored accordingly, a very firm value of 10 on the front and 8 on the rear is what you need.
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There aren’t many big stops around Japan, but locking up isn’t too common around here either. The brake pressure needs to be high for a wet setup at around 85%, with the brake bias at 53% towards the front.
Overheating rubber is rare in the wet around Suzuka, so you can increase the tyre pressures to higher than average values. 24.2psi on the front and 21.5psi on the rear axle is the highest possible without causing much thermal degradation. Remember, the higher your tyre pressures, the faster you’ll be, so have a play around with them and find what suits your driving style best.