Former Formula 1 star Eddie Irvine has branded Fuji Speedway – home to this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix – 'a crap circuit' and 'the worst place possible to have a grand prix', as he insisted the race should never have been taken away from Suzuka.
Irvine – who competed in 147 races in the top flight from 1993 until 2002, finishing runner-up in the F1 World Championship with Ferrari to McLaren-Mercedes' Mika Hakkinen in 1999 – spent much of his formative career in Japan, and as such knows the circuits well.
Whilst Suzuka – a perennial favourite amongst drivers for its challenging nature – welcomed the sport from 1987 until 2006 without exception, Fuji regained the race last year, and from 2009 will alternate with Suzuka every season.
The 2007 Japanese Grand Prix was notable for a heavy deluge that saw the field spend the first 19 laps behind the safety car – during which Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber and Scuderia Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel collided with each other – as well as an earthquake not long after the chequered flag had fallen.
Irvine claims the return to Fuji – which was originally designated the home of the Japanese Grand Prix back in 1976, only for the venue to be stripped of that privilege just over a year later following a fatal accident that killed two spectators, and was subsequently re-designed by Hermann Tilke and bought by Japanese car giant Toyota – was motivated by solely monetary reasons, and that the switch had been a big mistake.
“To move it because of money to a very average circuit like Fuji is very disappointing,” the famously outspoken Ulsterman told Virgin Media
“To me, Fuji is a crap circuit. It's a horrible, boring place in the middle of nowhere. The weather is usually horrible and it's just the worst possible place to have a grand prix.
“You have to say that Fuji does not add to Formula 1.”