FIA Formula One World Championship 2001 Japanese Grand Prix Â Suzuka - Sunday, October 14 2001 After the emotionally charged United States Grand Prix, Formula 1 moves on to Japan's magnificent Suzuka circuit for the 17th and final round of this...
FIA Formula One World Championship 2001
Japanese Grand Prix Suzuka - Sunday, October 14 2001
After the emotionally charged United States Grand Prix, Formula 1 moves on to Japan's magnificent Suzuka circuit for the 17th and final round of this season's world championship.
Michelin motorsport director Pierre Duspaquier says: "It's hard to believe we have already reached the final race of our first season back in grand prix racing."
Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) triumphed in the previous race at Indianapolis it was the 20th F1 win of his career and his second of the F1 season.
But it was not a race in which Michelin fulfilled its potential, despite an excellent fourth place for Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing).
The two Williams-BMWs qualified very well, but neither lasted the race distance. Juan Pablo Montoya was well placed to win after a great overtaking manoeuvre on Michael Schumacher, but a technical problem caused him to retire on lap 39. He was left with the consolation of setting fastest race lap. As for Ralf Schumacher, he spun out on lap 37.
Dupasquier says: "We could have been coming to Japan on the back of a successful American weekend. When he retired from the race, everyone saw that Juan Pablo Montoya was more than 12 seconds clear of one Mika Hakkinen, who went on to win a little later in the afternoon... but that's motor racing."
Across the Pacific...
With its series of high-speed corners, Japan's Suzuka circuit is not dissimilar to Spa and it certainly favours drivers with a sense of aggression. It is the only track on the calendar with a figure-of-eight layout and the F1 cars cover the 5.8-kilometre (3.6-mile) lap at an average speed of more than 210 km/h (130mph). In this part of the world the weather is often fickle at this time of year and can sometimes add some real spice to the race. And, as is often the case, qualifying is particularly important, because overtaking during the race can be very difficult.
Pierre Dupasquier says: "Despite its two180-degree corners, one tight hairpin and a chicane, average lap speeds at Suzuka are particularly high, and we have no problem with that. With our partner teams, we have been able to perform with distinction at similar tracks on several occasions this season. And we also won the eight-hour motorcycle endurance race at this track. If you take all forms of the sport into account, our record here hasn't been one of unbroken success, but at least we shouldn't feel completely alienated. "It is true that we have never used grooved F1 tyres at Suzuka and we are at a disadvantage because we have no applicable data to transfer from our previous experience at the track. A track like this demands a compromise between high speeds and cornering grip, so cars must be quick in a straight line while generating high levels of downforce. Our most recent tyre developments should be able to cope with the atypical demands of this circuit, in terms of both compound and construction."