Japanese GP: Sauber preview

With ten points scored in Indianapolis Sauber Petronas moved up from ninth to fifth place in the Constructors' World Championship. In Suzuka the team's efforts will be centred on maintaining this position. Willy Rampf (Technical ...

With ten points scored in Indianapolis Sauber Petronas moved up from ninth to fifth place in the Constructors' World Championship. In Suzuka the team's efforts will be centred on maintaining this position.

Willy Rampf (Technical Director):

"Suzuka is a very challenging track. Power of the C-spec engine and low drag are crucial on the fastest sections, but there are others that present different demands, because Suzuka is a circuit with many facets to its character. To go smoothly through the Esses at the start of the lap, the car must have excellent handling balance, while the Spoon Curve and the modified super-challenging 130R corner require high downforce."

"The chicane at the end of the lap then registers a different demand: strong braking performance and stability on the entry and excellent mechanical grip and traction on the exit. The track surface is also quite abrasive, so your choice of tyre compound is also critical."

"All of this makes the circuit a great favourite of drivers and engineers alike, because everyone has to rise to the challenge to get the best from the car. The new qualifying rules will make things even tougher this year, because there are so few overtaking opportunities around the lap. And because it is so long and tortuous you can lose a lot of time to other cars if you get stuck behind a slower car that you are unable to pass."

"After our strong performance in Indianapolis we could be forgiven for hoping for a wet race, but in any case we have made great progress on the aerodynamics since Hungary. The team is working extremely well, and naturally we are looking forward to scoring more points to maintain our fifth place in the World Championship for Constructors."

Nick Heidfeld (65 GPs, 6 points 2003):

"Suzuka is my favourite track, but it will be interesting to see how changes to the 130R corner and the chicane have affected its flow. I think the former may more easily be flat now, but it will still be a very challenging corner. Just how challenging depends on the level of downforce you are running. The Esses, too, are special, because you need to make compromises in some sections to make sure you don't spoil others. It's very satisfying when you get them right."

"The fans in Japan are great. They are very enthusiastic and they seem to lose all their inhibitions as they get into the sport."

"Running so strongly during the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis was an uplifting experience that showed the clear potential of the Sauber Petronas C22. The car was fast and reliable, so naturally I am hoping to score some more points. I'm really looking forward to the race."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen (156 GPs, 13 points 2003):

"This year, without Spa on the calendar, Suzuka is my top track, the biggest challenge. I always look forward to it because it requires a special flow to get a good lap time. It has some great corners, and the two left-handers (which are really one big long corner) behind the pits are real neck-killers. You can pull 3.5 to 4g there, for quite a long time. That's physically very tough."

"Others are more technical, like the Spoon Curve or 130R, and the chicane is the only part of the track where you have to brake strongly and don't feel the aerodynamics at work. It's a good spot for overtaking."

"My best memory of Suzuka comes from my first visit in an F1 car, when I qualified third there in 1994 with Sauber. I was on the podium in 1997. The fans are very special, and they help to contribute to the atmosphere which always makes it a pleasure to be there. They have such uncontrolled enthusiasm!"

"After the way our new aerodynamics package worked in Indianapolis, and after my podium finish there, I'm sure we can attack when we get to Suzuka. The US Grand Prix marked the first time a Sauber has led a Grand Prix, and our performance there was a tremendous fillip to the team which has worked so hard throughout the season. It was a pleasure to help to lift it from ninth to fifth place in the World Championship for Constructors, so I really hope that we can score some more points in Japan."

-sauber-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Nick Heidfeld
Teams Sauber