It may not be a circuit well known to western motor racing fans, but Suzuka is undoubtedly one of the most challenging racetracks in the world. It possesses gradient changes plus a good selection of fast corners, and is also the only current...
It may not be a circuit well known to western motor racing fans, but Suzuka is undoubtedly one of the most challenging racetracks in the world. It possesses gradient changes plus a good selection of fast corners, and is also the only current Formula One circuit with a "figure-of-eight" layout. It requires fairly high levels of downforce because, although there are substantial straights from the Spoon Curve to the chicane, good cornering ability is needed for the esses, Dunlop Corner and Degner Curve, as well as 130R, a daunting corner routinely taken by drivers at over 260 km/h. Suzuka is a circuit that offers good overtaking opportunities, notably into the first turn and on the approaches to the hairpin and chicane. For drivers and engineers, the main chassis balance issue is likely to be understeer. It is especially important to neutralise this characteristic on the exit from the Spoon Curve, since it is critical to carry as much speed as possible onto the following straight and up to 130R to exploit any overtaking opportunities.
"I love Suzuka and I have great memories from Formula Three racing in Japan there. It's a track where we have been quick in the past, even though the races have never been particularly good for us. Hopefully, this year the race is going to be good as well. Suzuka is a great track to drive on. There are a couple of very dangerous spots that could probably be improved, but the track layout is amazing. It's got a good rhythm, high-speed and mid-speed. It's a very difficult circuit to do a good lap on, to drive properly. I love it."
Steve Farrell, Chief Engineer:
"Suzuka is generally regarded as a 'driver's circuit', so on the basis that we have one of the best drivers in the business in Jacques Villeneuve, we feel that we have the chance of a good result there. It's clear that the car has been improving steadily, culminating in BAR almost achieving its first podium finish at Indianapolis. Jacques likes Suzuka, so with some luck and a couple more improvements to the car, we might be in with another chance of a podium finish next weekend. This is obviously a very important race for our partner, Honda, and I'm sure they, like us, will pull out all the stops to put on a good show in front of their home crowd. It's currently a tight race for the Constructors' Championship and fourth place is very much up for grabs. Until such time as it is no longer attainable, that's what the team will be aiming for."