Japanese GP: McLaren preview

The West McLaren Mercedes team travels to Suzuka for the penultimate race of the 2004 Formula One World Championship, the Japanese Grand Prix. The race team remain in Shanghai following the Chinese race, preparing the cars Suzuka, before leaving...

The West McLaren Mercedes team travels to Suzuka for the penultimate race of the 2004 Formula One World Championship, the Japanese Grand Prix. The race team remain in Shanghai following the Chinese race, preparing the cars Suzuka, before leaving for Japan on Monday.

The figure of eight circuit, which is located South West of Tokyo, was constructed as a test track in the early sixties.

David Coulthard:

"Following the Chinese Grand Prix, I travelled to Thailand for a couple of days before moving onto Japan. This allowed me to continue my training programme in a similar environment to Japan. Suzuka is a great circuit, it is a proper challenge. It is a very technical track with similar characteristics to Spa, and is the second longest on the calendar."

"Due to its nature, the track allows you to build up a flowing rhythm so it is particularly important to have a well balanced car to get a good lap time. Suzuka also tends to be fairly gentle on the brakes as the majority of the corners are taken at high speeds, with only light braking or perhaps a little less pressure on the throttle, so there are no many hard braking zones like we have at say Monza or Montreal."

Kimi Raikkonen:

"As with most of the drivers, I always enjoy the Japanese Grand Prix. The circuit is exciting to drive and the atmosphere is always very lively as the spectators are so fanatical! The Suzuka track has a number of different high and low speed, sweeping and tight corners. They include some legendary ones such as the Spoon, the S complex and 130R, which is great to drive. The track itself is quite physically demanding on both the drivers and the cars."

"Also, overtaking can be difficult, with the final chicane providing probably the best opportunity. Hopefully we can have another very exciting race as with China. The car continued to handle well and felt quick, so I am looking forward to driving it at Suzuka and pushing it to its limits on the track's great corners. It would be nice to end the season with a couple more positive results for the West McLaren Mercedes team."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, West McLaren Mercedes:

"Suzuka tends to suit our package, with both drivers also demonstrating good pace round the track. As is always the case, we are pushing for the win in Japan, there are still valuable points to be won this season and the whole team is working hard to continue our recent momentum to try and achieve this. At the test in Jerez last week, Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa completed some 2,121 kms, which included work on set-up and tyre testing for the Japanese race."

"Suzuka is a medium downforce track in order to achieve the high cornering speeds required whilst ensuring we remain quick on the straights. The track demands high speed stability and the surface is fairly abrasive, which can be hard on tyres. The West McLaren Mercedes team has many good memories from Suzuka, celebrating key moments in the history of the marque, hopefully we can add to these this weekend."

Noerbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"Suzuka is the second longest circuit on the calendar after Spa-Francorchamps. The drivers consider it as big a challenge as the Belgian circuit and love it as well. The uphill Esses in the first sector is really selective and very demanding for drivers, cars and tyres, but also the other parts of the circuit are pretty tough and drivers always have to achieve a kind of driving master's degree."

"With a little more than 60 per cent of a lap run under full throttle, the Japanese Grand Prix circuit is one of the demanding tracks for the engines. Based on our experiences of Spa and Shanghai we should have a competitive package for Suzuka and want to continue the positive trend of the last races."

-mclaren-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Kimi Raikkonen , Alexander Wurz , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Mercedes , McLaren