This week, the Honda Racing F1 Team heads straight from Shanghai across the East China Sea to Japan for the penultimate race of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship, Round 17 - the Japanese Grand Prix, held at the Honda-owned Suzuka circuit...
This week, the Honda Racing F1 Team heads straight from Shanghai across the East China Sea to Japan for the penultimate race of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship, Round 17 - the Japanese Grand Prix, held at the Honda-owned Suzuka circuit on Honshu Island.
The team is certainly pumped up in preparation for its home race after achieving its fourth successive double points finish in China last weekend when Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello ended the race in fourth and sixth positions respectively. Another eight points in the bag further reduces the gap to third place in the Constructors' Championship, whilst the drivers lie sixth and seventh in the Drivers' Championship.
Built by Honda as a test circuit in 1962, Suzuka is a legendary drivers' circuit which has managed to retain much of its challenging layout, despite recent modifications. This year's Japanese Grand Prix will mark the twentieth race that Suzuka has hosted since Formula One first came to the circuit in 1987.
"I'm really looking forward to going to Suzuka this year as a member of the Honda family for the first time. The Japanese fans are always so enthusiastic and create such a great atmosphere over the race weekend that it will be exciting to hear them cheering for me. Suzuka holds some special memories for me as I won there from pole position in 2003."
"The circuit itself is challenging because of the corners and combinations of the track layout and you need a good balance, especially for turns one and two. Our performance has been improving consistently over the last few races, and we had a good final test in Jerez, so I am expecting us to be competitive at Suzuka."
"Suzuka is a very special weekend for the whole Honda Racing F1 Team because it is Honda's home circuit and one of our two home races of the year. I've had some great support there in the past, especially since I've been involved with Honda, and I'm excited about going back this year."
"It's a very tough circuit and a real challenge for the drivers mentally and physically. You have to be precise, very consistent and it is really important to get the set-up of the car right. Suzuka is definitely one of my favourite circuits and I hope that we can put in a strong performance there for all our Honda fans."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director:
"We are delighted to return to Japan and race in front of our home crowd and the many fans and friends of Honda. Suzuka itself is one of the classic racing circuits in the world and a great driver's track. The layout has a little bit of everything and some relatively short straights, which makes overtaking a challenge and places a premium on car handling. Fortunately, this is one of our fortes, particularly during the latter part of this season."
"Both of our drivers enjoy the track and have gone very well in the past, Rubens having won there and Jenson having scored points in every single visit he has made. Last year, the venue gave us one of the most exciting races in recent F1 history. Hopefully this year will be no different and our team will be in the thick of the fight."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Senior Technical Director:
"The Honda Racing F1 Team heads home to Japan in good heart. This will be our team's second home race of the season and the support of the Japanese fans makes it a place we always look forward to visiting. It would be great to win at Suzuka and sing the national anthem with the fans in the grandstand!"
"We will be introducing our upgraded Suzuka special engine, which will be the culmination of all our development work on the V8 unit. At our last test in Jerez, we also introduced a new aero package and further mechanical developments, which will be the baseline for the chassis set-up work at Suzuka."