After recent rumours about Osaka making a bid for the Japanese Grand Prix, F1 has signed a new five-year deal with Suzuka.
Formula 1 has confirmed Suzuka will remain on the calendar for at least another five years, with a new deal in place to remain at the circuit until 2029 inclusive.
Recent rumours had abounded that Osaka would make a play to snaffle the Japanese GP away after the conclusion of the current deal in 2024, but F1 has put an end to that speculation with confirmation of the new five-year deal.
Suzuka confirmed on new five-year deal with F1
The challenging Suzuka circuit remains a firm favourite with both drivers and fans, with iconic corners like 130R and the famously fast but tricky Esses that make up the first sector.
There’s plenty of history here, too. Until the arrival of Abu Dhabi in 2009, Suzuka regularly held the season finale and has seen plenty of championship showdowns over the years – who can forget the nailbiting 2003 title finale, Mika Hakkinen’s infamous title wins in 1998 and ’99, and the legendary Ayrton Senna/Alain Prost collisions of 1989 and ’90?
But Suzuka briefly looked like it could be in trouble for a future calendar slot. With its existing contract coming to an end in a few months’ time, Osaka looked set to launch a bid for the Japanese Grand Prix.
F1 recently confirmed the Spanish Grand Prix will move to a new city venue in Madrid, threatening the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya’s F1 future, with more and more city tracks being added to the calendar.
Two weeks ago, the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau confirmed plans to attract Formula 1 to the city, with plans for a street track circuit making use of public roads, as Osaka looked to capitalise on the anticipated momentum from the Osaka-Kansai Expo which it will host in 2025.
Hiroshi Mizohata, chairman of the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau, is quoted as having told Japanese publication Sankei Shimbun that the bid to attract F1 would be a private-sector-led push, claiming F1 is shifting to a “business model that can be operated on a private-sector basis” – Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura confirming the initiative by saying: “I would like to cooperate as much as possible.”
But, just as those rumours seemed to be gathering steam, F1 has confirmed the future of the race at Suzuka is safe for five more years.
For 2024, Suzuka has been moved to a much earlier calendar slot, serving as the fourth round of the championship – this has come about as F1 moves to regionalise the calendar in a bid to reduce travel logistics and emissions on the journey towards net carbon zero by 2030.
“Suzuka is a special circuit and part of the fabric of the sport, so I am delighted that F1 will continue to race there until at least 2029,” F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said of the announcement.
“As we prepare to return to Japan earlier than usual this season, l would like to express my huge gratitude to the promoter and team at Honda MobilityLand for supporting our effort towards greater calendar rationalisation as we look to make the sport more sustainable.
“Our fans in Japan embrace Formula 1 with a unique passion and we look forward to working with the promoter to give fans the experience they deserve for years to come.”
Honda Mobilityland Corporation president Tsuyoshi Saito was thrilled to be able to confirm the new five-year deal.
“I am pleased that we will be able to continue hosting the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit from 2025 onwards,” he said.
“I would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Stefano Domenicali and other related Formula 1 members.
“We aim to create a sustainable future and currently we are preparing to welcome many fans for the 2024 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix in April, the first time the event will be held in the spring season.
“We will continue to work together with the local communities and government agencies, including Mie Prefecture and Suzuka City, so that Suzuka can continue to be loved by fans around the world and contribute to the prosperity of motorsports culture and industrial development.”