Japan preview quotes - McLaren, Sauber, HRT & Mercedes 30 Sep 2011Ask an F1 driver to name his favourite tracks and chances are Suzuka will get more mentions than almost any other circuit. Its mixture of gradient, high-speed turns and technical corner combinations make for one of the sport’s ultimate challenges - and one that gives a huge sense of satisfaction if you get it right. And with Japan still recovering from a devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this year, the teams are especially eager to return and show their support…
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2010 Qualifying - 3rd, 2010 Race - 5th
“I love Japan, and the Japanese Grand Prix is one of the highlights of my season. This year, of course, we all travel to Japan extremely mindful of the consequences of the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country earlier this year. I hope that the Japanese Grand Prix can successfully show the world that the country is strengthening and rebuilding itself after the terrible events of last March.
“As for the race itself, I think Suzuka will play to my strengths: it’s a track that really requires you to drive in an attacking way to be able to get a good lap time. It’s an uncompromising place. But that’s when the thrill of driving a Formula One car is at its highest; when you know you can’t afford a single mistake and where driving on the absolute limit is the only way to get the best time. In that sense, it’s a lot like Monaco, and maybe that’s why I like the place so much - it’s unique.
“I think we’re headed there in pretty good shape: we know that the Red Bulls will be strong - but we also have a very quick car, and we can make it work on different kinds of circuit. Suzuka is another reasonably high-downforce track, which should play to our strengths. The weather in Japan in the autumn is always unpredictable - we’ve seen before that it can be beautifully sunny and hot or extremely cold and wet. I’ll take any conditions as long as I can race hard.”
Jenson Button, McLaren
2010 Qualifying - 6th, 2010 Race - 4th
“I consider Japan my second home - it’s a place that’s very close to my heart, and, obviously, it’s going to be a very emotional experience for me to be racing in Japan for the first time since the events of last March. I’m very proud that the Formula One world championship will put Japan on the world’s sporting stage next weekend: while the country is still collectively rebuilding itself, I’m deeply aware that sport can play a significant role in helping to restore hope and normality to communities that were torn apart by the earthquake and tsunami.
“And I think it will be a great race for everyone. In the last few races, I think we’ve shown that we have extremely good pace and that we’ve been the team most able to take the fight to Red Bull. On paper, I think it’s a circuit that will suit the Red Bulls, particularly in the high-speed sweeps that make up the first sector of the track, but I certainly don’t think people should under-estimate our package. We showed at Spa that we have a car that’s very effective in high-speed corners. We’ve also improved our straight-line speed and we have a more efficient rear-wing for qualifying, so I think we’re feeling positive about the weekend.
“For everyone who follows Formula One, I hope we can put on a great race to bring further strength to the people of Japan. And to everyone in Japan, I say: ganbatte!”
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“Taking the long journey to Suzuka always reinforces the notion that we’re headed into the closing stages of the season. While there remains a mathematical, albeit slim, chance of Jenson securing the world championship, we realistically go into these last races with an undimmed resolution to win, and to ensure the world championship remains interesting, exciting and unpredictable for as long as possible!
“To that end, we’re still pushing ahead with the development of key areas of the MP4-26 - in particular, we’re focusing on areas where there will be significant carry-over of performance and learning into 2012. With the 26, the key areas of overlap development are the front and rear wings: any downforce we find this year can be carried over to the MP4-27.
“Encouragingly, we were able to successfully track-test our latest iteration of rear wing in Singapore, it proving sufficiently positive during Friday practice that it was deployed on both cars for the remainder of the race weekend. While there will be an inevitable shift of focus and deployment towards the new car, we still have enough momentum within the development system to ensure that we’ll still be introducing new parts through until the last few races of the season.
“Finally, McLaren has plenty of history in Japan - we’ve witnessed some incredible and unpredictable scenes involving our cars and drivers at both Suzuka and Fuji down the years - and, as a team, we’re all particularly proud to be going to Japan this year to play a sporting role in the redevelopment of a country that has endured terrible hardships and deprivation in 2011. It goes without saying that we will all be racing with the people of Japan in our hearts and minds next weekend.”
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber
2010 Qualifying - 14th, 2010 Race - 7th
“It is always very exciting going back to Japan to race, but when I went back last year it had been a long time since I had raced there and it felt especially good to be there. There were so many fans around and that in itself was very impressive. For me this year will only be the third time I have ever raced at the Suzuka circuit. Last year was my first time in a Formula One car, and before that I just did one Formula Toyota race in 2003 when I was 17-years old. Because of this I don’t know it that well, and certainly most of the other drivers know it better than I do. Nevertheless Suzuka is one of my favourite circuits, and I also think one of the best tracks as well. Racing there is exciting and cool. I think every driver likes it. It is really enjoyable to drive on if you get in the right rhythm. The S Curves - two, three, four, five and six - are my favourites. This is my home country and so many fans are waiting, so I really think it is great to do. I believe Japan is very important for Formula One and I think we can put on a good show for the sport, which is a good thing for the Japanese fans. I think my parents may be coming to see me race there as they came last year.”
Sergio Perez, Sauber
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
“I think Suzuka will be one of the most special races of the season. For me it will the first time I go to Japan, but I have driven the circuit on the simulator and it is obviously an exciting one. I am very much looking forward to driving through the high speed corners in reality, and I also think those corners will suit our car quite well. Personally I want to keep up the momentum I think I have, and I can feel I’m getting on top of things. I want to improve and finish the season on a high. I also expect the team will get a lot of support from the Japanese fans because of Kamui, and this will be a nice experience as well.”
James Key, Sauber technical director
“Suzuka is an exciting and technical track, with many high speed corners and a mix of very technical low speed corners, and it's also the only track with a figure of eight configuration. It's always something special for our team to go to Suzuka with Kamui as our driver, as we get a lot of extra support. Suzuka is a very challenging track, and both our drivers have shown in the past that they are particularly competitive on demanding circuits. Kamui drove a brilliant race last year in Suzuka with spectacular overtaking. Sergio only knows the track from the simulator, but I have no doubt he will also be strong. We will bring a wide ranging aero package for the car, which includes a completely new front wing, new rear wings, new turning vanes and side pod deflectors, new brake ducts and modifications to the floor. This was always planned for Suzuka and, if it all works well, it should give us a reasonable step forward. Obviously we want to bounce back from some recent bad luck. Going into the final quarter of the season there will be tracks which should suit our car better. It would definitely be great to get a positive result for all our supporters in Japan in what has been a very challenging year for the people there.”
Vitantonio Liuzzi, HRT
2010 Qualifying - 17th, 2010 Race - DNF
“We’re reaching the final straight of the championship with the next event in Japan. Suzuka is one of my favourite circuits and definitely one of the nicest tracks. It is a really fast and technical circuit where set-up and aerodynamics are key to having a good result. It won’t be an easy place for us but we will put up a fight until the end. We are really motivated to keep on pushing until the end of the season. Weather conditions are uncertain, which could be interesting since experiencing difficult weather conditions in Japan may give us a better chance of achieving a good result. For this Grand Prix I’ve wanted to pay my respects to the victims of the earthquake that struck Japan earlier this year by wearing a special edition helmet named Embracing Japan designed by Kaos Design, the helmet will later be put up for auction with the benefits going towards charity.”
Daniel Ricciardo, HRT
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
“I’m looking forward to driving at Suzuka for the first time. I’ve heard from many of the drivers that it is a beautiful circuit with a lot of history. I spent some time in the simulator and the first sector looks like a lot of fun with the ‘S’ curves followed by an uphill which, apparently, is a lot steeper than what you can appreciate on television. It seems like a real driver’s circuit which is always nice, a place where you can try and get the most out of the car. I'm really excited because reality is always better. The weekend in Singapore was positive, the progression has been good in every race and I hope that this trend will continue in Japan.”
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
"After the earthquake that struck Japan earlier this year, it is important that Formula One goes back there and we all show our support and commitment to the country and the Grand Prix. Singapore was a tough race but we had a positive weekend overall closing the gap to our rivals and having both cars finish the race. Nevertheless, we have to continue making steps forward. Suzuka includes some of the most challenging corners like the high-speed 130R and the famous Spoon Curve, and its unique layout makes it one of the most special ones on the calendar. It is a medium to high-downforce track but we expect the updates that we brought to Singapore to slightly improve our performance under such conditions. Tonio's experience and skills will certainly contribute to this improvement while Daniel will find himself again facing a new challenge at a track that he has never driven around before, although I am sure he will adapt to it and push as he has done over the past races."
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
2010 Qualifying - 10th, 2010 Race - 6th
"Suzuka is a very special circuit, and one which has held great races, and great memories, for me over the years. I always enjoy the challenge of driving here and getting the technical set-up of the car right to get the best from the demanding layout of the track. A great first sector, high-speed turns, and interesting corner combinations all make Suzuka one of the best race tracks of the year, and definitely one of my favourites. We will be working hard to make the most of our weekend here, and hopefully we can come away with a strong performance and some more points."
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2010 Qualifying - 7th, 2010 Race - 17th
"I always enjoy visiting Japan for the Japanese Grand Prix, and Suzuka is truly a great race track. Personally I think it's one of the best circuits on the Formula One calendar, along with Spa, and one which every driver loves. The layout is very challenging with high-speed corners and difficult chicanes. In the past, overtaking has been really difficult here, so it will be interesting to see how the new rules affect the racing. I always love the atmosphere in Japan and the fans are really enthusiastic in their support. Let's hope we can put on a show for them and achieve a good result."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
"Suzuka is a classic racing circuit which has hosted some memorable races over the years, and we are looking forward to returning to Japan next week. The recent improvements to the circuit and paddock have made Suzuka an excellent venue, and the support that Formula One receives from the enthusiastic Japanese fans is always very impressive. After the tragedy which took place in the country earlier this year, we hope that the race will provide entertainment and enjoyment, and it seems somehow fitting that the championship is likely to be decided in Japan. From our team's perspective, we had a more challenging weekend in Singapore than at the final two European races, however Suzuka is a track which should be more suited to our car, so we will work hard to have a stronger weekend here."
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"The Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka holds a very special place in Formula One. We always enjoy the warm welcome from the Japanese people, their great passion and enthusiasm for our sport, and of course the challenge of the majestic Suzuka circuit. Following the tragedy that struck the country last March, the whole Formula One community is determined to put on an exemplary and thrilling race for our loyal and dedicated fans, many of whom have endured great hardships over the past six months. The circuit itself needs no introduction - it is one of the world's greatest tracks, which tests man and machine to the limit. The layout is unique and one of the drivers' favourites; a mega-challenging circuit that is said to divide the men from the boys. In terms of average lap speed, Suzuka ranks - together with Spa and Monza - among the top five of the season, which should mean our technical package should be better suited here than at the slower speed tracks. Having said that, it is clear to us that we cannot change the current pecking order at Suzuka; our target will be to produce performances like we delivered in Spa and Monza."