Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi returns to Japan next weekend hoping to get his season back on track after a recent run of poor results.
The Japanese driver has failed to score a point since the German Grand Prix in July, and will clearly be hoping to get back in the top ten at his home race. Surprisingly though, Kobayashi does not have that much experience of racing around Suzuka.
“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,” he said. “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.”
However, Kobayashi does have more experience of the track than team-mate Sergio Perez, who has never visited before. The Mexican driver is eagerly anticipating the challenge of this famous circuit.
“I think Suzuka will be one of the most special races of the season,” he said. “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.”
Sauber technical director James Key thinks that the team should go well around Suzuka, thanks to some new updates the Hinwil-based team are bringing to the track.
“We will bring a wide ranging aero package for the car [to Japan], 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,” he explained. “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.”