Japan 2018 - GP Preview - Racing Point FI Mercedes
“After double points in Sochi we travel to Japan aiming for more of the same. We expect the car pace from the last few events to carry over to Suzuka and we really enjoy the challenge of racing at such a wonderful circuit.
“After lost points in Singapore it was important to have a clean weekend in Sochi. The only frustration was that we struggled to maximise our pace advantage in the race. Even with DRS you need a big pace advantage to be able to make an overtaking move stick. We didn’t have the track positon we needed and it made for quite a difficult afternoon.
“The update we introduced in Singapore continues to deliver performance for us. We want to end of the season as the fourth quickest team and I think we’ve shown that we are close to achieving that already. The final few events on the calendar usually play to our strengths, but the midfield ebbs and flows so we need to keep working hard to make sure we can achieve our objectives.”
“Suzuka is a proper drivers’ track and it is definitely one of my favourite circuits of the year. I love its flow and the high speeds, especially in the first sector. I think it’s one of the best sectors of the whole calendar. It’s a big challenge inside the cockpit, but it’s also a tough weekend because you really need to find the perfect balance for the car to put together a good lap. It’s not only the layout that is difficult – you can have a lot of wind that changes direction from one lap to the other and can throw you off.
“130R is my favourite corner of the track. You get there at more than 300kph and it’s a sharp left in seventh gear – you’re still doing 300kph at the exit. It’s such an amazing feeling. The corner is a bit less imposing in the new-generation cars because you have a lot more downforce, but you still need to focus perfectly to avoid making a mistake.
“Japan is where we meet some of the most passionate fans in the world. They truly make you feel at home all the time. A lot of them write to me on social media throughout the year : they write letters and when we get to Suzuka some of them surprise me with a gift. It’s really special. There is one special fan who always waits for me at the hotel and when I am leaving the track. It’s great to see their love of Formula One.”
“I think all the drivers love Suzuka. The characteristics of the track make it so special – there are big corners, a lot of history and it’s a very difficult lap to get right. There are some truly great corners all the way through, but the Esses in the first sector are something special. They’re just so much fun to drive : I love quick changes of direction and the flow through that sector in qualifying, with a light car and lots of grip, feels just awesome.
“I am looking forward to meeting the Japanese fans. The welcome they give us is always incredible – they’re supporting you from when you land at the airport and they never stop cheering. They’re some of the most passionate we see all year and it gives me so much energy.
“Last year we had a very solid weekend in Suzuka. I ran third for a long time before finishing seventh, so hopefully we can have another strong weekend. If we can score a similar result this year it would be a great effort.”