Although our visits to Suzuka are tinged with sadness, the fantastically warm welcome we receive from our Japanese friends always brings a smile to our faces. We can’t wait to meet as many of you as possible this weekend, as Pascal and Esteban get their first taste of one of Formula 1’s great race tracks. Let’s get their thoughts, and those of Racing Director Dave Ryan, ahead of Round 17 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the 2016 Formula 1 Emirates Japanese Grand Prix.
Suzuka International Racing Course
7-8-9 October 2016
Pascal, first impressions of Japan and the Suzuka circuit?
“Every destination is a new experience for me but some stand out more than others. This is definitely one of those. Already, I met a lot of fans as they are camped out at the hotel and they gave me a super-excited welcome, which was nice. I also got some great and funny gifts; the fans are really creative, I have to say. I’d love to go to Tokyo one day, though I won’t get the chance on this visit, but the crowds come from all over the country to this race, so I hope we can reward their enthusiasm and support for our team with a good performance this weekend. P.S. The sushi is great!”
Another battling performance from you in Sepang. Can you pick up where you left off here in Suzuka?
“I hope so. This is a very technical and challenging track for car and driver, so the first thing is to master the circuit. After that, we started to get our new developments working better by the time we got to race day in Sepang, so hopefully we can continue that progress. We need to find a little more pace from them, so that’s the big focus for Friday. After that, we’ll see.”
Esteban, your first time out at Suzuka. What have you been doing to prepare for it?
“The first thing I did when I got here was to run the track. It’s a very technical circuit – the figure of eight, the great mix of low, medium and high speed corners. I wanted to see it for myself as soon as possible and it’s a very impressive track that I think I’ll enjoy. There are a lot of variables to think about here – it’s a high downforce circuit, so we need to get the best compromise set-up because we suffer a little aerodynamically. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into my programme on Friday now.”
Final race in Asia this season. What is the objective?
“I’ve had some very positive moments over the past four race weekends, including a strong qualifying in Sepang last weekend. But a clean race has so far eluded me, so I’d like a more complete weekend here in Japan, to show more of what I’ve learned and my performance as an F1 driver. That would be nice.”
Dave, all set for Suzuka, after a swift turnaround from Sepang?
“Yes, we’re in good shape here and ready to get started on Friday. This is not an easy circuit to master, and it isn’t one we marked out as suiting our car particularly well, so we’ll have to see how things go to some extent. We do have a small mechanical step here though, which should help us. We’re looking forward to the support of the fantastic crowds here, who always create an amazing atmosphere which has helped the team through difficult times here.”