2017 JAPANESE GRAND PRIX, PREVIEW
Sahara Force India gets ready for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Vijay Mallya: “There are many positives to take from our performance in Sepang last weekend. The pace of the car in both qualifying and the race shows that we are still unlocking further performance from the VJM10. It’s a good sign for the remaining five events of the year. Suzuka will give us another chance to explore our latest developments on a track that is very technical with big emphasis on aero.
“It’s worth mentioning again how impressive Sergio’s race was in Malaysia. Despite feeling unwell all weekend, he still managed to deliver one of his best results of the season. Esteban also drove a remarkable race. 53 laps on one set of tyres to score the final point was a big achievement. It’s just a shame the luck went against him otherwise he would surely have picked up even more points.”
Sergio: “The Japanese Grand Prix is one of my favourite weekends of the season. We receive so much support there: the Japanese fans are amazing and I am really looking forward to meeting all of them. There is a Japanese woman who always dresses up in Mexican colours and she even learned Spanish just to talk to me, it’s such a special experience.
“The track itself is amazing. Sector one is the most beautiful sector in the world, with so many quick corners and an incredible flow. It will be impressive to race on it with these high downforce cars. I think it should be a good weekend for us because we have made some really good progress with the car in the last few races.”
Esteban: “Suzuka is a place I really enjoy. I had my first taste of it last year and it’s just so good. The high-speed sections are very special and when you have a car with a lot of grip, like in qualifying, you can find a nice rhythm. There is no real secret to being quick there: you just need to work on the details. You need to get everything perfect to complete a good lap.
“There is so much history in Suzuka. When you arrive there you think about the battles between Senna and Prost all those years ago. We certainly need these sorts of tracks. The fans, as well, are great. Motorsport is massive in Japan and you see it the moment you arrive in the country. Last year, I saw a fan with a cap in the shape of a rear wing with a working DRS. It was really funny and I’m never going to forget it.”
Sahara Force India’s Chief Race Engineer, Tom McCullough, looks ahead to the race in Suzuka.
“The Japanese Grand Prix is one of the highlights of the year, a classic venue with some of the most enthusiastic fans in the world and a great atmosphere. Suzuka is a challenging circuit that drivers typically enjoy and the 2017 regulation cars should make this track’s high-speed corners even quicker. The unique figure-of-eight layout means there’s a similar number of left and right-hand corners and most drivers’ highlight is the iconic sector one, with a constant change of direction requiring a very well-balanced car. Set-up is biased towards the medium and high-speed corners: effectively, there are only two low-speed corners, the T11 hairpin and the final chicane. It’s an old-school track that punishes mistakes and it’s a challenge for both drivers and engineers.”