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Rampf and Gascoyne on Suzuka set-up 06 Oct 2005

Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber Petronas C23.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, 10 October 2004 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Sauber Petronas C23.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, 10 October 2004 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF104B.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, 10 October 2004 The Toyota garage by night
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying day, Suzuka, Japan, 8 October 2004 Olivier Panis (FRA) Toyota TF104B.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, 10 October 2004

Two of Formula One’s finest engineering brains explain exactly why Japan’s Suzuka circuit poses such a technical challenge - and hence why the teams and drivers love racing there…

Willy Rampf, technical director, Sauber:
"Achieving fast laps at Suzuka is all about getting a good balance on the car. Apart from the relatively long back straight where low drag would be beneficial, this is a high downforce circuit. We will be aiming primarily with our set-up to create a car that is neutral and driveable. In particular the Esses at the start of the lap are crucially important. That's where the driver needs a car that changes direction quickly and precisely. Any handling imbalance will cost you a lot of time there.

“Further round the lap the wide variety of corners, especially the challenging 130R which is one of the great corners in F1, pushes the drivers and the car to their extreme limits.

"Due to its high number of corners, Suzuka is very hard on the tyres. The tyre degradation could be decisive for the race pace. That's another reason why you need good handling balance, to preserve the tyres as much as you possibly can.

"Apart from that Suzuka is a real drivers' circuit; it is an 'old' narrow track with a lot of medium and high-speed corners and very little run-off area where a small driving error means the end of the race. For the drivers it is equally demanding on the physical side as the corner density is one of the highest of the season."

Mike Gascoyne, technical director (chassis), Toyota:
"Suzuka is an extremely challenging circuit, enjoyed by both drivers and engineers. It ranks alongside Spa as most people's favourite.

“What makes Suzuka stand out is that it contains a rich blend and mix of corners, including the fast and tricky 130R and the daunting first corner leading up to the Esses. We also have a slow hairpin and the long double-apex left-hand Spoon corner. Unlike Spa, there are no long straights so we run with fairly high levels of downforce.

“The only real passing opportunity can be found heading into the chicane before the end of the lap, but following a car closely through 130R is difficult, so drivers have to be totally committed to pull that off.”

For more on the Suzuka circuit and its history, click here