Japanese GP: McLaren Mercedes preview

Lewis Hamilton "It feels like I've been waiting my whole life to race at Suzuka -- so, as you can imagine, I'll be really excited when practice starts there on Friday morning. Ever since I was a kid, I've raced Suzuka on computer games -- and ...

Lewis Hamilton

"It feels like I've been waiting my whole life to race at Suzuka -- so, as you can imagine, I'll be really excited when practice starts there on Friday morning. Ever since I was a kid, I've raced Suzuka on computer games -- and while it kind of gives you an idea of how the circuit goes, nothing can beat the real thing. It looks like a real driver's circuit -- the first sector esses look very demanding and the higher speed corners towards the end of the lap will probably require real precision and a good car set-up.

"I'm also really looking forward to returning to Japan -- it's one of my favourite countries and I love racing in front of the Japanese fans. It should be a great weekend."

Heikki Kovalainen

"I had one of my greatest Formula 1 drives in Japan, in the wet race at Fuji in 2007 when I finished second behind Lewis, so I have some fantastic memories of the country. While I'm really looking forward to racing at a classic racetrack like Suzuka for the first time, I don't think the circuit will be ideal for our package: it's a bit of a mix of places like Silverstone and Istanbul, with high speed corners, and will require a car with good downforce and mechanical and aero balance. But, that doesn't put us off: the improvements we've made to the car over the course of the season have been genuinely remarkable and I think we still go to Japan confident that we can do a very good job."

Martin Whitmarsh
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"Along with Spa-Francorchamps, Suzuka is one of Formula 1's greatest circuits, and one that every driver relishes. Certainly, McLaren has had more than its fair share of spectacular moments there -- we've won at Suzuka on six occasions, and I vividly remember the 2005 race, when Kimi [Raikkonen] took the lead on the final lap of one of the most spectacular grands prix I have ever witnessed.

"For 2009, we go to Japan knowing that overall victory will not be easy to achieve -- but the improvements we evaluated in Singapore, particularly some useful changes to the floor, should give us a competitive boost and it will be interesting to see how our pace translates against that of our rivals."

Norbert Haug
Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"From a teams and drivers' perspective, the Japanese Grand Prix is one of the biggest challenges of all 17 races this year. The track layout offers everything from the ultra-fast 130R corner to a slow hairpin. With Kimi Raikkonen we won there in 2005. With two race wins and 45 points from the last five races, the final one being last Sunday in Singapore, our team has continued this upwards trend. I don't think we'll be among the favourites for victory at Suzuka; however, everybody in the team is working hard to conclude the season with further good results in Japan and the following races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi."

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen , Norbert Haug , Lewis Hamilton , Heikki Kovalainen , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Mercedes , McLaren