Japanese GP: Williams preview

The Event Formula One stays in Asia for the second round of the last back-to-back of the season, the Japanese Grand Prix. The legendary Suzuka circuit is the venue, and is located on Japan's third largest island of Honshu, 50 kilometres from ...

The Event

Formula One stays in Asia for the second round of the last back-to-back of the season, the Japanese Grand Prix. The legendary Suzuka circuit is the venue, and is located on Japan's third largest island of Honshu, 50 kilometres from Nagoya. The penultimate race of the season will be the 20th event hosted at Suzuka, a mega park which not only boasts a race track, but also a theme park, hotels and restaurants.

Constructed in 1962, Suzuka debuted on the calendar in 1987 and has been the stage for some of the most thrilling Championship showdowns in the sport's history. After the cars showed an improvement in performance over the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, the team is looking forward to the Japanese race, confident of taking the momentum forward and scoring some more points.

Between the races

With just three days between China and Japan, none of the team's drivers are on call for testing this week. However, Nico will be on duty on Tuesday with a PR day for RBS in Tokyo. It will be an off-track, but still in-car, event for Nico, who will be setting a time on a race simulator which guests will then try to beat. On his way to Japan, Alex will drop off in Korea on Wednesday for a Philips marketing commitment in Seoul. Mark, meanwhile, will be enjoying a few days' break in Shanghai before traveling to Suzuka.

Making the car go faster

September's Silverstone test afforded the team track time to test various aero modifications on the FW28 which were run in China and will remain on the car at Suzuka.

Suzuka from a technical perspective

Suzuka is widely regarded as one of the most technically challenging tracks of the season where success lies in the balance of the car. Each of the 3.6 mile laps includes an unforgiving combination of 16 turns, ranging from the slow speed, twisty Esses and Spoon corner at the start of the lap to the high speed 130R and Casio Triangle towards the end. With such a variation of turns, aero efficiency and car stability are crucial to allow the driver to achieve fluidity through the corners and record a quick lap time.

Suzuka ranks among the top five fastest tracks on the calendar, one which requires high revs and sees a high average speed over one lap. As such, engine power and torque are key variables. The circuit's unique figure of 8 layout also presents a challenging series of directional changes which place heavy demands on both the left and right sides of the tyres. Combined with an abrasive track surface, the drivers and their engineers invariably select a mid- to hard compound to preserve their efficiency during the 53 lap race.

Unlike the majority of Grand Prix destinations, Suzuka's notoriously unpredictable weather conditions can cause havoc and create lottery results in qualifying and the race. A track where mistakes are quickly punished, Suzuka equally rewards precision and balance and never fails to deliver a race to remember to one of Formula One's most enthusiastic audiences.

Mark Webber:

"We finished fourth at Suzuka last year and it was a good race for us. We were running very close to Fernando Alonso and only just missed out on a podium. The track really is spectacular, it's fantastic. Most people find the Japanese way of life very different to what they're used to and you either love it or you don't. The people, though, are always really friendly, very polite and they love to make a big effort."

"The weather is very changeable in Japan at this time of year due to the season. There are often typhoons, so we always have to be a bit wary of that. Although it's a little north, it's also close to Australia as well which is nice for me, but I won't be making a visit home until the end of the season."

Nico Rosberg:

"I've already raced in Japan in 2000 at the Karting World Cup in Motegi. Well, actually, I started on the first row but then I had a puncture and my race was quickly over! Visiting Japan will be an interesting experience. I'll be there from Tuesday as I have some PR work to do in Tokyo before heading to Suzuka."

"With regards the Suzuka track, it looks like it's a very good one so I am looking forward to driving there. Our car showed some improvements over the Chinese Grand Prix weekend and we hope we can carry on the momentum."

Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1:

"Suzuka is one of the greatest circuits on the Formula One calendar, one that demands the drivers and engineers get everything right to secure a quick lap time. The track has everything, high speed corners, a chicane and a hairpin. Intense focus is always required through the initial Esses section, if you get the first corner wrong, the penalty grows through the whole sector."

"As high speed stability is so important, the set-up on the car is usually compromised in the slow speed sections to ensure that the driver has the confidence to push hard in places like the Esses. Good braking performance is also a necessity for the hairpin and chicane. Suzuka has some great overtaking opportunities around the lap that always provide for an exciting race. The FW28 spec will be the same as in Shanghai and we are looking forward to scoring more points in the penultimate race of the season."

Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth:

"Mark's engine will carry over for its second event at Suzuka, while Nico will have what is potentially his last fresh engine installed. Cosworth are confident both in the performance and reliability of the CA2006 engine. Our objective of delivering the benchmark Formula One engine and engineering support to WilliamsF1 remains unchanged."

-credit: williams

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mark Webber , Fernando Alonso , Nico Rosberg
Teams Williams