After the major disappointments of missing out on their first points of 2014 last time out in Singapore when in promising positions, both Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil find themselves arriving in Japan still with the Sauber F1 Team down in tenth place in the Formula 1 Constructors’ championship.
Gutierrez has fond memories of Suzuka however, with the young Mexican scoring his first (and so far only) Formula 1 points of his career at the circuit in 2013, and feels the circuit is one of his favourites on the calendar. He, like many others on the grid, loves the first sector of the track in particular, and is looking forward to getting out on track in front of the adoring Japanese fans.
“The track in Suzuka is one of my favourites,” insists Gutierrez. “I actually have many tracks that I like a lot, but this one is really unique. The layout of the circuit is very different to other ones, so the set-up of the car is also special.
“The track has many fast corners, which can be challenging from an aerodynamic point of view, but there are also some medium-speed ones. The first sector is simply amazing, it is a sequence of left-right corners, and it is fantastic driving through it. Also the very fast left corner, 130R, is a very nice one.
“I have good memories from Suzuka, as last year, I scored my first points in Formula One there. The fan base in Japan is great, and I am impressed with how enthusiastic and passionate the people are about racing. Once we drivers arrive there, the fans make us feel special, and they appreciate what we are doing. This is a good motivation for us.”
Team-mate Sutil enjoys coming back to Japan year after year, but has never scored a point at the Suzuka circuit. He scored his first ever point in F1 back in 2007 in the country, but his eighth place for Spyker was at the Fuji circuit. He believes the legendary 130R corner might not be flat out this season with the lower downforce levels on the cars, but feels that even before that, the circuit is a challenge to drive.
“The Japanese Grand Prix is a nice event with many great fans at the track,” said Sutil. “For me it is a very special Grand Prix, as in the past I lived in Japan for a year. Due to the fact that I won the Japanese Formula 3 Championship in 2006, I have great memories, and it is always a special feeling to come back.
“The track in Suzuka is with its many fast corners one of my favourites. The first sector especially is tricky, as it has a sequence of left-right-corners which can be driven very fast. From a technical point of view, this part of the track is quite challenging, so we need to have a stable car with a lot of downforce, and a front that responds quickly while turning in.
“The last sector is good for overtaking due to the DRS zone. In general the track is narrower compared to the more modern ones, and the run-off areas have gravel and grass, which does not allow room for mistakes. Moreover, I believe it will be difficult to go flat out through the very fast 130R left corner due to the reduced downforce of this year’s cars. All in all, I would say this track is challenging and fascinating.”