Japanese GP Benetton preview

Pat Symonds, Technical Director: "With the cars travelling straight from Indianapolis to Suzuka there has not been time for specific preparation for the Japanese Grand Prix. As this stage in the year development work is tailed off as concentration...

Pat Symonds, Technical Director: "With the cars travelling straight from Indianapolis to Suzuka there has not been time for specific preparation for the Japanese Grand Prix. As this stage in the year development work is tailed off as concentration goes into the new car for the next season. However, there are always small developments to address problems that may have been discovered in previous races or items that have been tested beforehand and have now reached production. The cars will however be substantially the same for the final two races as they were at the United States Grand Prix."

"Suzuka is a difficult circuit for both drivers and the engineers. At 5.86km it is the second longest circuit in the Grand Prix calendar and although it has very fast sections, it also has a number of slow corners. It is also unique, that it has a flyover and hence is the only figure of eight circuit that we race on in Formula One."

"It is a very difficult circuit for the drivers to learn and there is no doubt that those drivers that have some local knowledge from competing in Japanese series' earlier in their career can have an advantage at Suzuka. The circuit itself requires reasonably high downforce, similar to that used at a circuit like Barcelona. It is very important to have a good lap time to get a good balance through the S's behind the pits and to minimise understeer through some of the long corners while maintaining good traction out of the hairpin and round the chicane."

"The circuit is hard on tyre degradation and fuel consumption. Most teams tend to opt for two stop strategies but rain has been a common feature here in the past and this can also influence strategy. It is a difficult circuit to overtake, although opportunities do exist particularly into the final chicane. To be able to overtake here, it is essential to have a good balance through the very fast R130 corner. Whatever happens with the Championship, poised all the way through the field, one can be assured of a good race with all the drivers striving to improve their personal and team positions."

A lap with Alexander Wurz:
"The lap starts on the downhill 6th gear section leading to turn 1. Turn 1 is an extremely fast corner taken in 5th gear at around 250km/h. Then I brake hard into the tightening section which is in 3rd gear at 175km/h this leads into the very awkward continuous S's which go up the hill behind the pits. The first three corners of the sequence are taken in 4th gear at around 215km/h, 175km/h and 190 km/h respectively. I then brake for the long right hand 3rd gear corner taken at 140 km/h before accelerating again into the very tricky left-hand corner which finishes this section, this is taken in 4th gear at 215km/h and is very nearly flat. Before reaching the flyover there are two right-hand corners, first one taken in 4th gear at over 190km/h and then shortly afterwards a difficult 2nd gear 115km/h corner leads under the bridge. A short straight where I reach 260km/h in 5th gear leads to the very slow 1st gear left-hand hairpin, which takes at around 65km/h. Traction out of this corner is very important as I then accelerate round a long right-hand corner reaching a speed of just under 210km/h in 5th gear before going into a very long two part spoon curve. First part of this is taken at around 180km/h in 4th gear, I then have to reduce the speed to around 130km/h in 3rd gear for the second part. It is very important to minimise the understeer through this corner which is not easy as this leads on to the back straight. Half way down the back straight there is a very challenging R130 corner which is taken at 275km/h in 6th gear which is very nearly flat . At the end of the straight I will be doing over 290km/h 6th gear before braking hard for the 1st gear chicane, both parts taken at around 60km/h and this follows back on to the pit straight."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Alexander Wurz
Teams Benetton