Daniel Ricciardo is preparing to driver the famous Suzuka circuit for the first time this weekend as Formula 1 heads to the Japanese Grand Prix, Round 15 of the 2011 season.
The Australian rookie, who is driving for HRT for the second half of this season, anticipates that driving around the figure-of-eight circuit will be a fun experience.
“I'm looking forward to driving at Suzuka for the first time,” said Ricciardo. “I've heard from many of the drivers that it is a beautiful circuit with a lot of history. I spent some time in the simulator and the first sector looks like a lot of fun with the 'S' curves followed by an uphill which, apparently, is a lot steeper than what you can appreciate on television. It seems like a real driver's circuit which is always nice, a place where you can try and get the most out of the car. I’m really excited because reality is always better.
“The weekend in Singapore was positive, the progression has been good in every race and I hope that this trend will continue in Japan”
HRT will be putting Narain Karthikeyan in the car for the Free Practice 1 in Japan – as they did during the last race in Singapore – to help the driver prepare for his race at the Indian Grand Prix. The Indian driver will replace Vitantonio Liuzzi, who also ranks Suzuka as one of his top tracks, for that 90-minute session.
“Suzuka is one of my favourite circuits and definitely one of the nicest tracks,” says the Italian. “It is a really fast and technical circuit where set up and aerodynamics are key to having a good result. It won't be an easy place for us but we will put up a fight until the end. We are really motivated to keep on pushing until the end of the season. Weather conditions are uncertain, which could be interesting since experiencing difficult weather conditions in Japan may give us a better chance of achieving a good result.
“For this Grand Prix I've wanted to pay my respects to the victims of the earthquake that struck Japan earlier this year by wearing a special edition helmet named Embracing Japan designed by Kaos Design, the helmet will later be put up for auction with the benefits going towards charity”.
Team boss Colin Kolles has also been reflecting on the disaster that struck Japan back in March. “After the earthquake that struck Japan earlier this year, it is important that Formula One goes back there and we all show our support and commitment to the country and the Grand Prix,” he said.
“Singapore was a tough race but we had a positive weekend overall closing the gap to our rivals and having both cars finish the race,” Kolles added. “Nevertheless, we have to continue making steps forward. Suzuka includes some of the most challenging corners like the high-speed 130R and the famous Spoon Curve, and its unique layout makes it one of the most special ones on the calendar.
“It is a medium to high downforce track but we expect the updates that we brought to Singapore to slightly improve our performance under such conditions. Tonio’s experience and skills will certainly contribute to this improvement while Daniel will find himself again facing a new challenge at a track that he has never driven around before, although I am sure he will adapt to it and push as he has done over the past races”.