The Williams Martini Racing team arrive at Suzuka this week for the Japanese Grand Prix on a good run of points scoring races that sees the team fighting tooth and nail with the Scuderia Ferrari team for third place in the Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship. Although Valtteri Bottas missed out on points at Singapore two weeks ago, Felipe Massa secured fifth place to enable the team to stay ahead of Ferrari by nine points.
Massa admitted to driving like a ‘Grandmother’ in Singapore to conserve his tyres enough to enable him to keep his fifth position, and is hoping for another good result in Japan, especially as he believes the circuit should suit the Williams much more than Singapore did.
“Japan is one of the best circuits on the calendar,” states Massa. “The first sector is amazing and the elevation changes really add to the excitement of the track. We have good momentum at the moment and our car will hopefully be better than in Singapore.
“The Japanese fans are some of the most passionate fans. On a Thursday in the rain the stands are still full. I also love Japan and look forward to seeing more of the country.”
Team-mate Bottas feels the Suzuka track is a challenge, and knows you need good downforce and stability to have a good weekend at the Japanese circuit. Like many others up and down the grid, he rates Suzuka as his favourite track on the calendar.
“Suzuka is my favourite circuit on the calendar,” insists Bottas. “The high-speed corners make it a very special track to drive and a lot of fun. For a driver it’s quite a challenge with no room for a mistake, but it’s fast which just makes it even better to drive.
“You need good downforce and stability which could bring the field closer together. One thing all drivers say about Japan is just how amazing the fans are, and I am looking forward to seeing them again and hope they enjoy the race.”
Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley feels Suzuka tests all parts of the cars and admits the set-up is tricky to get right. He hopes the team have done all they can to prepare themselves for the trip to Japan, including with tyre management.
“Japan is one of the last remaining old school tracks,” said Smedley. “It is incredibly important to get the cars set-up right and very difficult for the drivers to get the perfect lap. The track is one that tests all aspects of the car and so is very tough to get right.
“Tyre management is key, so we hope we have done all of our homework and getting on top of track conditions throughout the weekend will directly affect qualifying and the race. I personally enjoy Japan; the fans are immensely enthusiastic about the sport and incredibly welcoming of the teams.”