How McLaren defined 12 days at the Japanese GP

© McLaren, 1 October 2012

McLaren has won at the Japanese Grand Prix’s two homes – the Fuji Speedway and Suzuka Circuit. Here’s how the team defined 12 days in the history of the Japanese Grand Prix:

1. October 24 1976
The world-title decider between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. They qualify second and third at Fuji Speedway, but the race is marred by dreadful weather. Lauda withdraws his Ferrari on lap two, leaving Hunt in need of fourth place to take the title. A late-race puncture drops him to fifth, but he claws his way back to third to bag the sport’s biggest prize. © AP Photo
2. October 23 1977
The easiest victory of Hunt's career? He qualifies second at Fuji Speedway, alongside pole-sitter Mario Andretti, but takes the lead on the run to Turn 1 and is never headed. He finishes more than a minute clear of second-placed Carlos Reutemann. “That was pretty easy, wasn’t it?” he says afterwards. © AP Photo
3. October 30 1988
The world-title decider between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at Suzuka. Senna takes pole, but stalls at the start and drops to 14th. Prost leads early on, but his chances are blighted by a gearbox problem. Senna charges through the field and takes the lead on lap 28. It’s a McLaren 1-2 and Senna is world champion for the first time.© AP Photo/Neokazu Oinuma
4. October 22 1989
Senna needs a victory to keep his title challenge alive. He duly takes pole position, but arch-rival Prost beats him away from the grid and takes the lead. They run nose-to-tail until lap 46, when they collide at the chicane. Prost retires, but Senna continues and wins the race, only to be later excluded by the stewards for cutting the chicane. Victory goes to Alessandro Nannini. © AP Photo/Tsugufumi Matsumoto
5. October 21 1990
Another world title showdown between Senna and Prost, now driving for Ferrari. Senna takes pole position for the third consecutive year, but Prost, in second, starts on the clean side of the grid and beats Senna away from the line. The pair collide at the first corner, giving Senna his second world title in controversial circumstances. © AP Photo/Neokazu Oinuma
6. October 20 1991
Only a win will do for Williams driver Nigel Mansell, whose title challenge is on the ropes. Gerhard Berger and Senna work together to make his life difficult: Berger disappears into the lead, leaving Senna in second place to hold up Mansell. The Englishman spins off on lap 10, giving Senna his third world title. Berger leads home a McLaren one-two finish. © AP Photo/STR
7. October 24 1993
Senna and Mika Hakkinen qualify second and third, behind pole-sitter Prost. The race is dominated by changeable weather conditions and Senna jumps ahead of Prost when the conditions worsen. The gap between them is reduced dramatically when Senna stumbles across the battle for fifth place between Damon Hill and Eddie Irvine, but he holds on to take the 40th win of his career. © AP Photo/Remy De La Mauviniere
8. November 1 1998
The world-title decider between Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen: Schumacher starts from pole, but stalls on the grid and drops to the back for the re-start. Hakkinen is never headed in the race, winning by six seconds and taking the title, while Schumacher fights back to third, before a puncture ends his challenge. David Coulthard finishes third in the second MP4-13. © AP Photo/STR
9. October 31 1999
Another title decider at Suzuka, but this time Hakkinen is fighting Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine. Hakkinen enters the race four points behind Irvine and leaves it two points ahead after winning in emphatic style. It’s his second consecutive world title. © AP Photo/Hideyuki Yamamoto
10. October 9 2005
A mesmerising victory by Kimi Raikkonen. He starts 17th, after rain scuppers his qualifying lap (one-lap qualifying, remember) on Saturday afternoon, and he scythes through the field in fearless fashion during the race. With five laps to go, he’s five seconds behind race leader Giancarlo Fisichella and he seizes the lead at Turn 1 on the final lap. “One of my best victories,” says Raikkonen. © AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
11. September 30 2007
The first Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway for 30 years and it’s wet, very wet. Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso lock out the front row of the grid, but the race is started behind the safety car and doesn’t go green until lap 20. The two McLaren cars run one-two in the awful conditions, until Alonso crashes out with 25 laps remaining. Hamilton finishes eight seconds ahead of Heikki Kovalainen. © EPA/Kerim Okten/AP Images
12. October 9 2011
Jenson Button starts second on the grid to Sebastian Vettel, but he wins the race after taking the lead during the second sequence of pitstops. He has a titanic struggle with Fernando Alonso and Vettel in the closing stages, but he drives an inch-perfect race and wins by 1.160s. Hamilton comes home fifth in the second MP4-26. © AP Photo/Greg Baker


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