Stoffel Vandoorne likens the Suzuka International Racing Course to the Spa-Francorchamps track in his homeland, but he feels the Japanese circuit, host of the seventeenth round of the 2018 Formula 1 season, is a much more difficult circuit to master.
The McLaren F1 Team racer says the Suzuka layout requires a driver to raise their game on each and every lap, but the whole layout is a lot of fun to drive despite the challenges faced, with corners in different sectors all creating different tests.
“In terms of the pure satisfaction of driving a Formula 1 car, I think Suzuka is up there as one of the greatest circuits in the world,” said Vandoorne. “Of course, as a Belgian driver, I’d always put Spa-Francorchamps up there too, but Suzuka is just as much fun – and it’s probably a more difficult place to master than Spa.
“It’s one of those places which doesn’t just have a single, unique corner, or characteristic: the first-sector Esses are hugely challenging; the Degners are extremely fast and unforgiving; and Spoon is a real, old-school corner that constantly invites over-commitment. Every lap requires you to raise your game.”
Vandoorne says he always enjoys making a return to Japan, particularly after his experiences back in 2016 when he raced in the Super Formula championship, as the country is so passionate about motorsport.
“And the whole Japanese Grand Prix experience is always surreal and fantastic,” stated the Belgian. “I learnt from my season in Super Formula that the Japanese fans are super-passionate about motorsport, and the Suzuka weekend just overflows with positivity and fun.
“I’m really looking forward to it.”