The Suzuka Circuit has been the site of the Japanese Grand Prix every year since 2008, and for many years before that as well. It is the only figure-8 track on the F1 calendar, and it has its fair share of legendary corners, such as 130R.
In order to find your way around the various famous names of Suzuka, you’ll need a good setup. The track has a tight complex of esses to open the lap, and these dominate the setup design.
As there are only a couple of significant traction zones, running a big difference between front and rear wing is less important at this track than at most others.
Therefore, a wing setup of 4-5 is my recommendation. This will give you enough grip to hang on through the esses without leaving you with no speed at all down the back stretch and the pit straight.
For your on-throttle differential, 50% remains the way to go. This gives you enough rear end stability in the traction zones which do exist, meaning that you don’t have to run extra rear wing angle.
The off-throttle differential setting is higher than at most circuits at 75%. This is due to the fact that the car tends to be unstable through the fast esses if left unchecked, and raising your off-throttle setting combats mid-corner instability.
It is very tempting to run as aggressive a camber as you can get away with around here. The positive benefits on a perfect lap would be huge.
However, doing so would have you spinning off every second corner. Moreover, it would have your tyre wear and temperatures through the roof.
To balance these concerns, you’ll need to err on the side of stability. Specifically, -2.70 and -1.20 are what I have gone for. Moving these values closer to 0 is a good idea if you still find yourself struggling to hold on to the car.
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For your toe settings, 0.05 and 0.20 are no brainers. These will provide you with a great deal of assistance in the longer corners, of which Japan has plenty.
A more aggressive suspension setup than usual is necessary at Suzuka. This is because responsiveness is of the utmost importance at this track.
I’ve gone for 4-8 for my suspension setup. This provides a good deal of turn in, as well as allowing the rear of the car to keep pace with the front. I would steer clear of running these values any higher as you will struggle with spinning off is you so much as look at a kerb.
For the anti-roll bars, a stiffer than usual setup is once again the way to go. I’ve had good success with 6-9, but the car still tends to roll a little through Spoon curve.
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The reason I wouldn’t go even higher with the front setting is that it would impact tyre heating and wear negatively.
For the ride height, 4-5 is best. This is a little higher than you would use at most dry circuits, but it’s necessary to compensate for the potential of a stiff suspension setup to throw the car off the track if you touch the kerbs.
While this setup has tended to be quite different to my usual builds, my brake recommendations remain the same. 100% brake pressure with 50% brake bias works best for me.
If you lock up too much with these settings, lower your brake pressure until you feel comfortable.
It is very hard to keep the tyres in a decent operating window at this track. The fronts in particular will overheat at a moments notice, and if they do so you will find yourself understeering like mad through sector one.
The most effective way to deal with this is to run low tyre pressures. Anything higher than 21.8psi on the fronts and you’re going to struggle a lot. For the rears, 19.9psi works well alongside the low front pressures.
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This track can be a pleasure to drive, but with the wrong setup it quickly becomes a nightmare. By using these settings, you’ll give yourself a car which will be consistent and reliable lap after lap.