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Japan preview quotes - Red Bull, Marussia, Mercedes & more 09 Oct 2013

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E20.Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday, 8 September 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday, 18 April 2013 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 7 September 2013 John Booth (GBR) Marussia Racing Team Principal in the Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, German Grand Prix, Practice, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, 20 July 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday, 18 April 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013 Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Toto Wolff (AUT) Merceds AMG F1 Executive Director.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 2 March 2013 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 7 September 2013 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 7 September 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday, 18 April 2013 Alan Permane (GBR) Lotus F1 Race Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Alan Permane (GBR) Lotus F1 Race Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Qualifying, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 6 July 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Practice, Monza, Italy, Friday, 6 September 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday, 8 September 2013 Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 16 March 2013 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 7 September 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013 Xevi Pujolar (ESP) Williams Chief Race Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Remi Taffin (FRA), head of Renault Sport F1 track operations in the Press Conference
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 2 November 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 7 September 2013 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday, 18 April 2013 Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India Formula One Team Owner.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Qualifying, Saturday, 27 October 2012 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 7 September 2013 Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 7 September 2013 Paul Hembery (GBR) Pirelli Motorsport Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race Day, Hungaroring, Hungary. Sunday, 28 July 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Practice, Monza, Italy, Friday, 6 September 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Tom McCullough (GBR) Sauber Head of Track Engineering.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 1 March 2013

Round 15 of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship sees the paddock make the short hop east from Korea to Japan and the historic Suzuka circuit. An eternal favourite with fans and drivers alike, it’s one of most popular venues on the F1 calendar. Those involved in the 2013 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix discuss their prospects for the coming weekend…

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2012 Qualifying - 1st, 2012 Race - 1st

“Suzuka, my favourite track! It is the most beautiful race track along with the Nordschleife and Macau, it is a dream to drive. Starting with corners one to five - you have to see the ‘S’ Curves as connected, you drive through them in a rhythm at around 240 km/h, always on the limit and you can feel the centrifugal forces in both directions. There are extreme bumps too that pull on your neck like hell. Spoon Curve: it is extremely fast and has two apexes. You have to be brave to get on the throttle early through here. Then there is a long straight, leading into the ultra-fast left kink which is 130R. You go flat out, but it doesn’t allow for any errors or technical issues since the run-off area here is not great. Finally, Casio chicane: you drive in second gear and the apex is very hard to see. Overtaking is harder than it looks here. It is possible to misjudge the braking and if the car in front does not cooperate, then there is a chance to have a collision.”

Mark Webber, Red Bull
2012 Qualifying - 2nd, 2012 Race - 9th

“It is one of the best (tracks) in the world, the fans are unbelievably passionate and they love their motorsport - they treat us like real gladiators, so it’s a special atmosphere. The Japanese fans are extremely knowledgeable, they follow the whole season which is evident when you get there, they want to talk about your season, they want to give you gifts and photos, they even know your birthday. I’d say they’re personal; they’re personal in how they approach following you as a driver. My favourite part of the circuit is the first sector and the most challenging corner on the track is Degner one.”

Jules Bianchi, Marussia
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“I am very much looking forward to my first experience of racing here at Suzuka. It is a track that is associated with some of the greatest moments in Formula 1 history and racing here will be one of the highlights of my debut season, regardless of the outcome. It is also a real test of car and driver with some fantastic corners, which I have only ever been able to sample on the simulator until now. I think that rain is possible early in the weekend, which should make life interesting - much like some of the big moments I saw here when I was growing up - but I think it may be dry later on, which will enable us to keep pushing for our season objective. I love Japan and have spent the past few days training and relaxing in Tokyo, which has been good fun. I can’t wait to be driving in front of the incredible fans here on Sunday.”

Max Chilton, Marussia
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“It’s great to be back in Japan and to finally get the opportunity to race at the Suzuka Circuit. I came straight here from Korea so I would have the opportunity to explore a little more because there are so many fantastic things to experience here. This will be another new challenge and one that I have been looking forward to because it is such a technical circuit and because of all the history attached to it. I have been inspired by some of the great battles I have watched here over the years. The fans are also pretty special, both in and out of the circuit. Seeing them camped outside the drivers’ hotel is quite something, never mind the reception we get when we’re out on track. I hope we can race to a strong two-car finish again - and hopefully with less attrition up ahead.”

John Booth, Marussia team principal
“This weekend represents another interesting challenge for our drivers in that neither Jules nor Max has driven at Suzuka previously. Technically it is one of the more challenging and interesting circuits, so they’ll start the weekend with maximum track time to help bring them up to speed. It has been raining heavily at the circuit today but our forecast suggests this won’t be the case come Saturday and Sunday, so I hope we can enjoy conditions more conducive to achieving our objectives this weekend.”

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2012 Qualifying - 15th, 2012 Race - DNF

“Suzuka is one of the most exciting circuits of the year and I love racing there. Our car has been fast in high-speed corners this season as we seem to have good downforce so I hope the fast layout of Suzuka will suit us this weekend. The Japanese fans are always very enthusiastic which is fantastic and I look forward to seeing them again. I would love to get the deserved good result that has eluded us for the last few races and I know that everyone has been working really hard to achieve that.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2012 Qualifying - 9th, 2012 Race - 5th

“Suzuka is one of the few circuits we have left in Formula One with the authenticity of a real old-school circuit. I drove there for the first time in 2009 and it takes a while to pick up pace each year because of how fast-flowing it is. If you touch the grass at any point, it's going to spin you off into the wall, so it's a much more demanding circuit in terms of precision, positioning and turning points for each corner. It's a real race track where you have to think ahead as a driver and it just needs crazy levels of downforce from the car. From my point of view, the car felt fantastic to drive in Korea when everything was hooked up, so I am excited to get to Japan and see what we can do there.”

Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
“The Japanese Grand Prix is always one of the highlights of the Formula One season. First of all are the fans: the Japanese public have a great passion for Formula One as well as a deep understanding for the sport, and it is always a pleasure to see them again when we visit Suzuka. As for the circuit itself, it is a fantastic challenge not just for the drivers but also the engineers. It includes an unusual number of medium to high speed corners, which make the circuit exhilarating to drive but also challenging to engineer. It is vital to find a comfortable, neutral car balance that gives the drivers confidence and can also look after the tyres, as this circuit is comparable to Silverstone in terms of the prolonged high lateral loadings they must cope with. It was a tough weekend for us in Korea so our clear target will be to respond to that disappointment with a result that delivers the full potential of the car we have developed this season.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes team executive director
“The team had a frustrating time in Korea: qualifying showed the pace that we had in the car but we were not able to use it at the right moments of the race. We also lost points because of a problem on Nico's car and everybody in the team is working hard to get on top of reliability issues like this one. Looking ahead to Japan, we can take two small positives from last weekend. First, we closed the points gap to Ferrari in the constructors' championship, and it now stands at just a single point. The second is that our car was possibly the quickest of all in sector two last weekend, which contained all the medium and high-speed corners. This is promising for Suzuka, where nearly two thirds of the corners are taken in fourth gear or higher, and should see our car perform well on this fantastic track. It's a true drivers' circuit and we have the best driver pairing in the field, so I am optimistic Nico and Lewis can qualify and race strongly to bounce back from last weekend.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
2012 Qualifying - 8th, 2012 Race - 6th

“Normally it doesn’t make too much difference to me where we race - as long as we have a good result then I’ll enjoy it - but Suzuka is a track I look forward to every season. It’s a proper circuit that’s been around for a many years, and you can understand why as it’s a challenge for the drivers and usually makes for some good racing too. It’s fast, technical and there are some good places to overtake, which to me is what racing should be about. There are some corners where you are flat out - or very nearly flat out - but then there are others where you really have to balance the braking and throttle carefully to maintain the best speed. If you push too hard then you can easily be punished, as I found out in qualifying last year when I was on my best lap in the final session. Hopefully this time we’ll get everything right and be fighting at the front; that’s where you can have the most fun at a circuit like Suzuka. As a racing circuit it has unique characteristics and belongs in the top three in the world with Spa and Monaco. I enjoy winning races the most at the places like these.

“For me coming to Suzuka was never that enjoyable because of the long journey, but driving a Formula One car on the track has felt great every time. I had a good race at Fuji too. It was that wet race back in 2007 when I came from pretty far back to a podium finish, but Suzuka 2005 is my best memory from Japan. It’s very difficult to say which is your best race - especially if you have won many - but coming from the last row of the grid to take victory at a place like this is one I remember very, very well. Since my first ever visit to Japan back in 2001 with Sauber, I’ve always enjoyed the almost fanatic loyalty of the local fans. They really support you, no matter what position you are racing for. Maybe that Suzuka victory was the best memory for them too. Even last year - after being out of Formula 1 for two seasons - I still had a lot of Japanese fans all over the world. For sure, that feels nice! Whenever I race or go rallying, there are always some Japanese supporters around and I appreciate the support.”

Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2012 Qualifying - 5th, 2012 Race - 19th

“I know I won’t be the first one to say this, but Suzuka is definitely my favourite circuit of the year. Every driver has races that are special to them for one reason or another - a home Grand Prix, or the venue for their first win maybe - but I think if you ask most racers they will tell you there’s just something about this place that’s a little bit different. This will be only my third time driving the track, but I’ve been looking forward to it ever since the flag dropped in Korea; it’s simply fantastic. It’s a track that really allows a driver to demonstrate their feel for the car. Not only is combination of corners pretty relentless - so you never really get a rest - but the way the layout flows together means that the smallest mistake can make a big difference to your time. Get it right, and the feeling is amazing. Get it wrong, and you just want to keep trying again and again until you have it nailed. Each sequence is challenging in its own way, and you have to find the perfect balance to put a good lap together. Every track has its challenges, but Suzuka is a continuous test of a drivers skills and I think that’s what makes it so beautiful to drive.

“As for Japan itself, Suzuka itself it pretty far out from the busier parts of the country, but the people, the culture, and of course the food all really appeal to me, so it’s somewhere I’d definitely like to explore a little more one day. You can’t help but mention the Japanese fans as well; they really are in a league of their own! Everywhere you look there are people with shirts, flags, crazy hats, and so many other things they have made at home just to show their support for the drivers on one weekend of the year. I don’t think any of us will forget the noise last year when [Kamui] Kobayashi got his first Formula One podium in front of his home crowd… my ears were ringing all the way to Korea; it was unbelievable!”

Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
“I think Suzuka is pretty much everyone’s favourite track; particularly amongst the drivers. The first part of the Esses - also known as the ‘Snake’ - is one of the most rewarding pieces of track a driver can experience. In a strong car with a good front end it really does flow well, and it’s one of the highlights of the year. Then, there are a couple of very high speed corners. Turn 1 is almost flat-out on entry, with braking at the mid-way point for Turn 2. 130R is flat out at very high speed; a little more tricky with high fuel loads, but certainly in flat in qualifying. Then you have the Spoon curve; a very long, double-apex, third to fourth gear corner leading onto the back straight and taken at reasonably high speed. There are plenty of challenges and I think we’ll have another interesting weekend. The nature of a figure-of-eight configuration adds elevation into the mix, with the track heading downhill into Turn 1 followed by a reasonable climb uphill through the Esses in sector one. It then heads down and up out of the hairpin, down some more into Spoon and along the long straight, before rising up again through 130R and the chicane. There’s quite a long downhill stretch on the start-finish straight to wrap things up, so it’s certainly a circuit that’s full of character.

“It’s a reasonably high grip surface, so the hard and medium tyres should be well suited to it. Tyre degradation won’t be as significant here as we saw in Korea, but it’s a track which exposes any weakness in your car or setup so we’ll be working hard as always to get things spot on. Although there are high speed corners it’s actually a high-downforce layout; a similar feel in many respects to Silverstone, but with the added feature of elevation. A car with a strong front end is essential as understeer really kills a lap time here, but everything else is needed as well; good braking, good stability and a car which can ride the kerbs, especially in the last sector.”

Jenson Button, McLaren
2012 Qualifying - 3rd, 2012 Race - 4th

“Suzuka feels a bit like a second home circuit to me. My win there back in 2011 remains one of my most emotional victories, because it was the first Japanese Grand Prix after the terrible tsunami that devastated the north of Japan - it was such an important event for the whole country. The thing I really like about Suzuka is that it’s such an unforgiving track. On most circuits, if you run wide or out-brake yourself, you invariably end up just running onto the Tarmac run-off, so you can easily get back onto the track without any penalty. At Suzuka, if you run wide through the Esses, or go off the track at the exit of the Degners, you’re going to find yourself in the gravel. And I like that – I think it rewards those who don’t make mistakes, and it makes for better racing, because you have to stay honest and focused. Suzuka requires a car with a rock-solid balance and good downforce in order to go well. We’re not quite there with our car, but Korea showed that we can race well and, even despite misfortune, can score points. I think the whole team is keyed up for another positive weekend.”

Sergio Perez, McLaren
2012 Qualifying - 6th, 2012 Race - DNF

“I love Suzuka – such a great circuit. I really enjoy driving at fast tracks, and this place just has so many great corners – the Esses, the Degners, Spoon, 130R. It’s a place which has a fantastic flow – once you commit into Turn 1, you’re basically just modulating your speed all the way through until the track spits the car out over the brow at Turn 7. The feeling through there when you nail it is incredible. The only drawback about Suzuka is that it’s very difficult to overtake – most of the corners are very fast, and most of the heavy braking zones are preceded by quick turns, so it’s very hard to get past another car. I tried and failed in equal measure last year, but I’m proud that I was able to have a go. I’ll be pushing like crazy for a good result in Japan this weekend.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“Our race in Korea once again demonstrated the extent of our ability and determination whenever we go racing. Despite suffering numerous setbacks throughout the race, nobody in the team let their head go down, and both drivers posted fantastic, determined comeback drives to get into the points. For Suzuka this weekend, our aim will be for a clean and trouble-free afternoon’s racing in order to see if we can improve upon our results from last weekend. For everybody at McLaren, Suzuka is a place of many fantastic memories – I remember seeing Ayrton win his penultimate grand prix here, Mika’s two world titles were sealed in Japan, Kimi drove one of his very finest races here, and we all fondly remember Jenson’s beautifully measured victory back in 2011. This is a racetrack that ranks with the very greatest in the world, and while we are realistic enough to know that we will not add to the tally of successes this weekend, just being in Suzuka, the spiritual home of Japanese motorsport, will help inspire us to greater heights and many further victories in the future.”

Pastor Maldonado, Williams
2012 Qualifying - 14th, 2012 Race - 8th

“Japan is one of my favourite races of the season, not only because of the track layout but because of the huge community of fans that are incredibly passionate about the sport and create one of the best atmospheres of the season. The Suzuka Circuit is a proper Formula One track, especially the first part which is uphill and has lots of changes of direction and high speed corners. This is a very challenging track layout for car set-up and you need to find a good overall car balance, the tyres need to be operating within the right temperatures and pressures, aero efficiency must be good and mechanically you need to have the right set-up. Without these elements coming together you feel a noticeable drop in performance and you can pay a high penalty in terms of laptime.”

Valtteri Bottas, Williams
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“I drove in FP1 last year and Suzuka immediately became my favourite track because of the high speed and the special corner combinations. Sector 1 is especially fun to drive because it is a bit like a rollercoaster with its quick changes in elevation. The fans also make this a special race; they are very supportive and there are a lot of fans who support Finnish drivers. It can be difficult to overtake on this track so doing well in qualifying will be important, but the weather can be quite variable so that can open up opportunities to play with the strategy. Car set-up is difficult because of the mix of corners where you have long high speed corners combined with slower technical sections where you need good mechanical grip, so you have to compromise somewhat with car set-up.”

Xevi Pujolar, Williams chief race engineer
“Suzuka is a unique old-style circuit featuring a trademark figure-of-eight layout, with the back straight passing over the front section via an overpass. It's a challenging circuit for the cars and drivers with an above average level of overtaking, predominantly due to drivers making mistakes. Sector 1 is dominated by the level of downforce and fuel loads, whilst Sector 3 is dominated by drag. The layout leads to high average corner speeds, second only to Silverstone, as well as high average overall speed and power sensitivity. This also leads to high energy input into the tyres, which along with the circuit roughness can lead to tyre wear problems. Last year new storm water drainage systems were installed around the newly surfaced part of the track, and this may come in handy this year as, although the chance of rain is low, Tropical Storm DANAS is currently heading towards Japan and is expected to skirt the coastline over the next few days. It should pass through the area prior to qualifying and the race, but there is a chance that its direction and speed may not be as forecast.”

Remi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations
“Suzuka is one of the favourite tracks for drivers, and it's easy to see why. We see every type of corner there: high speed sections and radial turns, esses, hairpins and gradient changes. Engines therefore need to deliver across the entire power spectrum without sacrificing driveability and responsiveness. The high speed corners such as the Esses also subject the internals of the engine and lubricant systems to high lateral G-forces - it's a very thorough workout for the RS27 so we will use fresh engines here.”

Paul di Resta, Force India
2012 Qualifying - 12th, 2012 Race - 12th

“Japan is definitely an interesting country to visit and a great place to go racing with a lot of passion and history. It’s in Japan that we meet some of the most dedicated fans in Formula One because the grandstands are always full – even on a Thursday! The track is one of the best tracks we race on. For me it’s up there with Silverstone because it demands so much from the car. Running on low fuel for a qualifying lap is a great feeling and something I look forward to. It’s also a big technical challenge in terms of optimising the set-up and it’s very tough on tyres because of the high-speed corners. All we can do is go there and concentrate on optimising the car balance. We’ve been focussing more on race performance recently and hopefully that will pay off.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“I have good memories of Japan. When I was 23 years old I lived there for a year and I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want to leave! The fans are very passionate, friendly and respectful, and they always give me a lot of energy. I love Japanese food too, especially Teppanyaki, and there is so much variety. I would say Suzuka is one of my favourite tracks along with Spa. The difference is that Suzuka is more technical than Spa because it’s narrow and quite bumpy, so I think having more experience of Suzuka can help you make the difference. Because I raced in Japanese Formula Three, I have driven so many laps of this track and I probably know it a little better than some other drivers. You need a car that works well in the high-speed corners. The ‘S’ curves at the start of the lap are beautiful because you can really feel the performance of a Formula One car and the incredible grip you have available. You need to have a car that allows you to find the right flow and rhythm through these corners because you can make up or lose a lot of time through this part of the lap.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
“The final five races offer some very different challenges. Some tracks will suit us more than others, but it’s vital that we get back to scoring regular points to secure our position in the championship. Suzuka is a big challenge for us, but it’s important we keep our heads up and try to put the disappointment of Korea behind us.”

Giedo van der Garde, Caterham
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“This will be my first full Grand Prix in Japan but not my first time on track at Suzuka after I did 22 laps in FP1 last year. I have to say I’m pretty excited about getting back to Suzuka, and Japan in general as it was a place I really enjoyed in 2012. Last year I didn’t have a chance to go to Tokyo and I promised myself I’d see the capital city this year so my physio Carlos and I are heading there straight from Korea for a couple of days before we take the Bullet Train down to Suzuka. On track it’s clearly one of the best challenges we have all year. It’s a proper drivers’ circuit with more medium and high speed corners than most modern tracks, and you need to be a bit brave to really attack around the whole lap. Before we went to Korea I did a couple of sessions in the simulator around Suzuka so I have a good idea of how the 2013 car will compare to the 2012 car and that’ll mean we can go straight to work on track on Friday which is obviously important in helping get the setup right for the weekend. After a pretty tough Korean race I want to get straight back to work and the good thing about back to backs is you can do just that. I know I keep improving, just as I’ve said all season I will, and I keep learning and there’s probably no better F1 track in the world to really push yourself than Suzuka, so let’s see what it brings.”

Charles Pic, Caterham
2012 Qualifying - 22nd, 2012 Race - DNF

“We go straight to Japan after the Korean race and to one of the best Grands Prix of the whole year. Suzuka is a special place, one of the best circuits of the year and one where the support from the Japanese fans is, honestly, amazing. Last year was obviously my first F1 race in Japan and I’d been told by lots of people that it would be one of the highlights of the season, and they weren’t wrong. The track itself is up there with Spa, Monaco and, for me, Nurburgring, as one of my favourites, particularly through the first sector which is very quick and where you need to be fast, smooth and precise to maximise your laptime. Into sector two and there’s an overtaking opportunity into the hairpin, and then Spoon and 130R are two of the most famous corners in F1. To be honest, 130R is probably not the challenge it used to be as it’s pretty easily flat, but when you go into there early in the race with cars all around you it’s still very quick. But it’s not just the track that makes the Japanese Grand Prix so special – it’s really the fans that make it such a great race. From the moment we arrive on Thursday morning until late after the race on Sunday night, the grandstands are all full. It was incredible last year to see the fans several hours after the race watching the rerun of the whole Grand Prix, and they were still cheering like it was going on live. They are some of the most passionate, knowledgeable fans anywhere in the world and they help make the whole event very special.”

Pirelli
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“Suzuka is one of the circuits where we experience the highest rates of wear and degradation all year: because of the relatively abrasive surface and most of all because of the high-energy loadings that are going through the tyres. That’s why we’ve nominated the two hardest compounds in our range to take to Suzuka this year. It’s not all about the fast corners though as there are also some heavy braking areas and tighter corners. So it’s a high-demand circuit when it comes to lateral energy but relatively low-demand in terms of traction, because the layout is very flowing with one corner sequencing into another. Strategy is set to play an important role once more - this was a two-stop race last year, when we nominated the soft and the hard compounds - and Suzuka is a circuit that all the drivers enjoy because of the high speeds. Japan is all about raw speed: and the tyres we have selected for this weekend should enable the drivers to showcase that in front of the amazing Japanese fans.”

Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber
2012 Qualifying - 10th, 2012 Race - 7th

“I really enjoy going to Suzuka, as it is always a cool weekend and special as both a Grand Prix and a circuit. Drivers like challenges and this is certainly a very challenging track. It is a classic track - a bit like Spa - and one that just puts a big smile on everyone's face. From the moment you get there the welcome is always really enthusiastic. The fans are polite and very cute. I especially love the way they wave with both hands, and I shall certainly try to learn this double wave as it looks great. Of course, the track has two amazing corners in the Esses and 130R. In a Formula One car it is a great track to drive on, and one where you can really use the downforce and certainly feel it. It is a very high G-force track, which means it is quite physical, especially on the neck. Away from the track I also enjoy the food, especially the teppanyaki and sushi. It goes without saying I would like to have a good result there and, after finishing seventh last year, I am going in a very optimistic mood.”

Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber
2012 Qualifying - n/a, 2012 Race - n/a

“Suzuka is a circuit I always wanted to drive on. I know it very well from all the onboard footage that I’ve watched, and I know the track from last year when I went with the team to the GP. It’s an interesting track with a lot of fast corners and it’s quite technical too. I can already say it will be one of my most favourites. I’m looking forward to going to Japan again. The fans are amazing, they know a lot about Formula One, and they even knew me last year when I was the reserve and test driver. It’s a great atmosphere, there is a good energy, and seeing the fans so passionate about the sport motivates me too.”

Tom McCullough, Sauber head of track engineering
“Suzuka is one of the most technically challenging circuits for both drivers and engineers. Knowing the best places to compromise is very important, and this is the case particularly in the first sector, as one corner leads straight into the next with multiple changes of direction. It is important to give the driver confidence in the car so that he can get into a good rhythm. The majority of the corners are medium to high speed, with only two slow-speed corners per lap. The fantastic circuit and enthusiasm of the local fans makes it one of the most enjoyable races of the season. The nature of the track makes it hard on the tyres so Pirelli is bringing its most durable compounds - the medium and hard. Overtaking is not easy, so again we will focus on a strong qualifying to give ourselves the best chance of scoring points.”

More to follow.

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