Suzuka is a rare example of a circuit which has stood the test of time. Designed in 1962 as a test track for Honda, only slight modifications have been made.
The untrained (and even the trained) eye would struggle to differentiate between the layout which hosted the first F1 event in 1983 and the one in use today.
A massive favourite with the drivers, Suzuka is without question one of the highlights of their year.
An onboard video of a lap is available here on the Formula1.com website. It's not available here because F1's approach to copyright enforcement makes the MPAA look like Pirate Bay.
Turns 1 and 2
A lap begins on the start-finish straight. There's a fairly long run down to Turn 1, a downhill right-hander with a fast entry and the first overtaking opportunity of the lap.
The drivers bleed off the speed as they go through this corner ready for the tighter right of Turn 2 which follows immediately.
Incidents here on the opening lap aren't uncommon.
Turns 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7
The track climbs slightly here, and continues to rise steadily as the drivers head into the S Curves (Turns 3, 4, 5 and 6). This sequence, made up of medium-speed corners, is without question one of the best in the world.
First up is a left, then a right, then another left and another right.
The exit of each corner leads straight into the entry of the next and even the smallest error can ruin a driver's rhythm and cost him a lot of time.
The final corner of the group, Dunlop (Turn 7), is quicker and much longer than the rest. After a brief lift at the entry it's flat out as the corner opens out.
This 180 degree turn takes seven seconds to complete, making it one of the great tyre and neck killers of the F1 year.
Turns 8 and 9
Dunlop opens onto a short straight, before the very fast entry to the first of the two right-hand Degner Curves. Taken in sixth gear, it looks so easily to put a wheel wide on the exit here.
As soon as they're through the first the drivers brake hard for the second, a much tighter 90-degree corner (Turn 9). There's a bit more run-off area than there used to be, but not much.
Just after the exit the cars pass through a short tunnel under a different section of the circuit. They drive back over here later in the lap.
The corners (once a longer, single curve) are named after East German defector Ernst Degner, a motorcycle Grand Prix rider who suffered terrible burns in a crash here in 1963.
He came over to the west in 1961, and won Suzuki's first world championship the following year.
Turns 10 and 11
Turn 10 is a flat-out right-hand kink just after the tunnel, then it's hard on the brakes for the hairpin left of Turn 11.
Overtaking is certainly possible here, but you need a bit of courage, a lot of luck and a compliant rival.
Get it slightly wrong, and you'll probably lose your front wing. Or your entire race—just ask Sergio Perez.
Turns 12, 13 and 14
Starting just after the exit of the hairpin is a long, flat-out right-hander (Turn 12). It's so simple in the dry it might as well be a straight, but it becomes a challenge whenever there's rain.
Next up is one of the best corners on the track, the long double-apex left-hander of Spoon (Turns 13 and 14).
The first part is slightly quicker than the second, which leads out onto the circuit's longest full-throttle zone. Taking a smooth line through here and getting a good exit is crucial for a quick lap time.
The back straight is quite attractive for a piece of tarmac, with a pleasant downhill blast into a shallow valley before the track rises again on the approach to the Crossover.
This is spot where the track passes over itself at the point just after Degner. Overtaking is possible around this area, but not likely.
And next up is the fastest corner of the F1 year—130R (Turn 15).
The name comes from the radius of the original corner (130 metres). It was reprofiled for safety reasons in 2003, so the name is no longer strictly accurate—but "85 and 340R" just wouldn't sound the same.
This corner was once considered a fearsome test, and taking it flat out was a true challenge. That doesn't really apply now.
Modern cars generate so much downforce that taking it without lifting is now relatively easy. The Red Bulls (and probably a few others) took it flat with DRS open in qualifying last year.
Turns 16, 17 and 18
Another overtaking opportunity presents itself on the short straight following 130R and under braking for the Casio Triangle (Turns 16 and 17).
This tight chicane jinks right then left, dramatically slowing the cars before releasing them through the long, flat-out right-hander of Turn 18 and back onto the pit straight.
The start-finish line is only a short distance down. The actual start line (used at the beginning of the race) is further along the straight.
The pit lane entry is on the inside of Turn 18, and the exit is just before Turn 1.