2016 Formula One Japanese Grand Prix, Preview
Vijay Mallya on Japan
VJM: “We head to Suzuka off the back of a very strong weekend in Sepang. Scoring twelve points strengthened our fourth place in the championship and showed, once again, that the VJM09 is a car that is competitive on any kind of circuit. I think we were a little unlucky with how the race unfolded, but we made the most of the situation and came away with some important points. It means we can arrive in Suzuka confident of another competitive performance. The team is working extremely hard, the drivers are extracting the performance from the car, and we are looking forward to the challenge that awaits us this weekend.”
Nico Hulkenberg on Japan
Nico: “Suzuka is one of my favourite tracks – it’s just got a great flow. You go from one corner straight into to the next and it’s a proper old-school track; it’s so much fun to drive, especially in qualifying when you have low fuel, soft tyres and lots of grip. You have some high-speed sections, but the main feature is the great rhythm you get as you drive through the lap.
“The track has several great corners: the best section is the Esses, which are pretty cool and so quick – it’s three or four corners at once. They’re all hooked up, so if you make a mistake in one you can just forget about the rest, you’ve already lost so much time.
“The other highlight of the Japanese weekend is the fans. They are incredible: it doesn’t matter what time of day it is, or what the weather is doing, they are there outside the hotel or at the track waiting for you. It’s great to see their passion and knowledge for our sport. They always bring us presents – most often candy, but I once got a very cute teddy koala bear!”
Sergio Perez on Japan
Sergio: “The trip to Japan is always good fun and every year I try to visit Tokyo for a few days ahead of the race. It’s one of the greatest cities in the world and I love to explore it: the Japanese culture is very interesting and I really like their food! I always have a good time there.
“Once you get to Suzuka, things are much quieter: the city is small but the circuit is spectacular, it’s the real attraction. The fans are also brilliant – there are very few in the world who can match their enthusiasm. Some are very loyal: there’s one Japanese fan, who always waits for me when I am leaving the track or leaving the hotel, and I always make sure I stop for a photo. As a whole, they are very knowledgeable and passionate and are one of the highlights of the weekend.
“The circuit is a huge challenge and it’s unforgiving. The speeds are high and the best part, for me, is sector one – it’s so impressive. Suzuka is without any doubt one of the best tracks in the world. You need a car that is balanced enough for you to feel completely at ease with it. The other thing to remember is the crosswinds because it can often by very windy there. One lap you can have the perfect balance and the next it can be thrown off by a gust of wind.
“It’s a track I like and where I have enjoyed some good results – it’s definitely one of the weekends I enjoy the most. Sadly, every time we go there we are reminded of Jules’s tragic accident.”