Japanese F1 Grand Prix 2016: Start Time, Drivers, TV Schedule and More

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistOctober 7, 2016

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg drives his car during the first free practice session at the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on October 7, 2016. / AFP / YUYA SHINO        (Photo credit should read YUYA SHINO/AFP/Getty Images)
YUYA SHINO/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton has a lot of work to do if he is to overturn Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg at the top of the Formula One drivers' standings and win the world championship in 2016.

There are only five races remaining in the season, and Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix will be crucial in deciding whether the title race goes down to the wire or Rosberg runs away with it.

Last time out in Malaysia, Hamilton suffered a huge blow as he was forced to retire while leading in Sepang, and Rosberg took third place to open up a 23-point lead over his title rival.

Read on for a closer look at Sunday's crucial race at Suzuka, along with scheduling and television information. 

     

Date: Sunday, Oct. 9

Start Time: 6 a.m. BST, 1 a.m. ET

TV Info: Live on Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports F1, NBCSN

Live Stream: Sky GoNBC Sports Live Extra

For a look at the full field of drivers, visit Formula One's official website.

      

Preview

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 02:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP on the podium during the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on October 2, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Hamilton desperately needs to stop the rot that has set in over the last four races.

Before the Malaysian Grand Prix, the Englishman had lost points to a triumphant Rosberg in Belgium, Italy and Singapore.

The 2014 and 2015 world champion has gone from a position of great strength—after winning in Germany in July he had a 19-point lead over Rosberg in second—to playing catch-up.

The Suzuka circuit is famously challenging and will give all the drivers plenty to think about over the race weekend, per Formula One:

Rosberg has never won at the circuit, while Hamilton has claimed victory in both of the last two seasons and also won the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji.

It is a favourite track of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who has won there four times and never failed to finish on the podium in seven grands prix since F1 returned to Suzuka in 2009.

The German four-time world champion could play an integral role in the championship race this weekend if he can find some form, but he will have to overcome a grid penalty to be fighting at the front, per BBC Sport's Andrew Benson:

Undoubtedly the main threat to a Mercedes win on Sunday comes from Red Bull.

Daniel Ricciardo won the Malaysian Grand Prix, with team-mate Max Verstappen in second, earning the Australian a fifth podium finish in the last six races.

Having won 204 points so far this season, Ricciardo is technically still in the title race, as he sits 61 points back from Hamilton and 84 behind Rosberg.

2016 Driver Standings
#DriverNationalityTeamPoints
1Nico RosbergGERMercedes288
2Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes265
3Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull204
4Kimi RäikkönenFINFerrari160
5Sebastian VettelGERFerrari153
6Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull147
7Valtteri BottasFINWilliams80
8Sergio PerezMEXForce India74
9Nico HulkenbergGERForce India50
10Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren42
11Felipe MassaBRAWilliams41
12Carlos SainzESPTorro Rosso30
13Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas28
14Daniil KvyatRUSTorro Rosso25
15Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren19
16Kevin MagnussenDENRenault7
17Jolyon PalmerGBRRenault1
18Pascal WehrleinGERManor1
19Stoffel VandoorneBELMcLaren1
formula1.com

Realistically, though, he will only be thinking about the race win this weekend, and if he can edge out the Mercedes duo, that will have repercussions in the fight for the world championship.

A title showdown in the season's run-in is most certainly on the cards, and if Hamilton can turn around his form and fortune to win in Japan, Rosberg's championship lead will be cut to just 16 points if he comes second, if not fewer.

With the German looking for his maiden world title, though, he will want anything but a scrap for the line, and he will be as motivated as Hamilton to triumph at Suzuka and put another nail in the coffin of his team-mate's championship hopes. 

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