Max Verstappen says the Suzuka International Racing Course is like a old-school track, and he heads there marking his third anniversary of his first ever Formula 1 appearance at the circuit.
The Red Bull Racing driver took victory last time out at the Malaysian Grand Prix, putting a dominant display finishing ahead of Mercedes AMG Petronas‘ Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo on the Dutch driver’s twentieth birthday weekend.
This weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix will mark three years since Verstappen made his F1 bow, having taken part in the Free Practice 1 session with Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2014, finishing that session thirteenth fastest.
Verstappen reflects on his first ever appearance behind an F1 car and says that Suzuka is a special place for him.
“Suzuka will always be a special place for me because I made my Formula 1 debut there during Friday practice and it’s a proper old-school track.” said Verstappen.
“My favourite corner is the fast Esses in the first sector, but it’s also the most difficult section of the track and you really have to concentrate on getting the set-up right.”
Verstappen has been on before in Japan, taking second place at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix where he was involved in for an incident where the Dutch driver made a late defensive manoeuvre on Hamilton at the Casio chicanes in the dying moments of the race. Hamilton was forced to take avoiding action due to the move, but no penalty was applied to the Red Bull driver.
Japan is often home to one of the most passionate fan base in Formula 1. With thousands attending the races in Japan, often in unique costumes and gifts for the drivers, Verstappen says it’s very nice to see they have a passion for the sport.
“Some people say the Japanese fans are crazy, but I think they are just very passionate about Formula 1, which for me is very nice to see.”
“Japan is full of new experiences and it will be great to spend a couple of days exploring before the race weekend starts.”