The Formula 1 circus visits Suzuka this weekend for the Japanese Grand Prix – which McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Fernando Alonso classes as one of his favourite races on the calendar.
The Suzuka circuit is a firm driver favourite; Alonso calls it a ‘classic’. It doesn’t pose the same challenges as the past two Grand Prix in Singapore and Malaysia, where heat played a massive part in making them some of the most physically demanding races on the calendar. Nevertheless, Suzuka is tough circuit for the drivers – but a hugely rewarding one.
“Suzuka is definitely one of my favourite tracks on the calendar, and along with a lot of the other drivers,” commented Alonso.
“I always look forward to racing in Japan every year. It’s one of the classics and its configuration is completely unique. It has a bit of everything – it’s demanding, fast, and a big challenge for a driver and for the engineers, so it’s the perfect racer’s circuit.”
The McLaren team are of course supplied with engines by the Japanese manufacturer, Honda, until the end of the season. This makes it a ‘home race’ of sorts for the team, and the pressure to do well is even higher here. It’s also an important race for Alonso, who has a large and dedicated Japanese fanbase, making him one of the most popular drivers in the country.
“It’s an important race for us given our connections with Japan, and for me personally it’s a special place. I’ve always found Japanese culture fascinating and the incredible support from the fans make this race weekend one of the most exciting and crazy of the season.
I always try to make the most of our time there, make a couple of trips to the must-see places in Tokyo and really get a feel for this incredible location.”
Alonso has struggled in the last few races, either through being taken out in Singapore or a catalogue of incidents in Malaysia, but having seen what his team-mate, Stoffel Vandoorne has been able to do with the car has given him a confidence in the progress the team is making.
“I’ve had a couple of difficult races recently, so I’m looking forward to getting back on track and working with my engineers to turn our fortunes around.
I feel that we’ve definitely had the pace there in the car – and Stoffel has been able to demonstrate what we’re capable of – but bad luck and struggles in traffic have meant we haven’t been able to score the points we’d hoped for on my side.”