Mercedes GP drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will both be looking to improve on their Korean Grand Prix results, where both drivers finished three places lower than their starting positions, as the Formula 1 circus rolls in to Japan.
“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,” said Executive Director, Toto Wolff. “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.”
The 5.8km Suzuka circuit plays host to the 15th round of the year, featuring one of the fastest corners on the calendar, the daunting 130R, taken at over 190mph and sees a lateral loading of 4G.
“Looking ahead to Japan, we can take two small positives from last weekend,” Wolff continued. “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.”
“Suzuka is one of the few circuits we have left in Formula One with the authenticity of a real old-school circuit,” offered Hamilton, who finished fifth in Korea after a long 22 lap battle with Sauber‘s Nico Hülkenberg. “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.”
Nico Rosberg battled back to seventh at Yeongnam after his front-wing collapsed while passing team-mate Hamilton, costing the German a possible podium finish. “Suzuka is one of the most exciting circuits of the year and I love racing there,” said Rosberg. “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.”
“[Suzuka] is a fantastic challenge not just for the drivers but also the engineers,” added team principle, Ross Brawn. “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.”