Aston Martin Red Bull Racing drivers Max Verstappen and Alex Albon are both looking forward to returning to Suzuka this weekend ahead of this year’s Japanese Grand Prix.
The circuit brings fond memories for the 22-year-old Dutchman, who made his Formula 1 début at the track in a practice session at just 17 years old.
“I’m really looking forward to going back to Suzuka as it’s a special place for me. I made my Formula 1 début there in a practice session when I had just turned 17 and it’s a memory I’ll never forget,” said Verstappen.
“I’ve had a lot of good results at Suzuka with second and third place podiums but never a win, so obviously we would love to go one step higher. It’s a lot of fun to drive and I really enjoy it, but I also love Suzuka in general. The circuit is very historic and also very narrow and fast, so it’s important to use all of the track.”
Verstappen added that if the car is not set up correctly, it will have a detrimental effect on lap time as turns 3, 4, 5, and 6 need to be taken flowingly.
“You need to find the right balance and have a good flow between Turns 3, 4, 5 & 6 because if you take one corner wrong, you’re in the wrong position for the next sequence.”
The Dutchman believes the team will able to compete against their Championship rivals, Scuderia Ferrari.
“Ferrari will be very strong as they have so much power and will be fast on the straights but our car will be quick in the corners so hopefully we can gain some time there.”
This weekend is also Verstappen’s rookie team-mate Alex Albon’s first Japanese Grand Prix.
Having driven the circuit before early in his career, during the time he spent in karting, the Thai-British driver is eager to see the difference driving the track in a Formula 1 car.
“I’m really excited for Suzuka as it’s going to be my first Japanese Grand Prix. I have raced at the track once before but only in karts, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like in an F1 car,” said Albon.
“The main circuit looks really fun and it’s the track I’ve been looking forward to most this year. This is obviously a big weekend for us as it’s Honda’s home race so we’re hoping for a good result for the fans.”