Japanese GP Williams preview

The final race of the 2001 Formula One World Championship will take place at the Suzuka Circuit where some epic battles for not only the race but the Championship have taken place in the past. For WilliamsF1 it was in 1987 at the first race there...

The final race of the 2001 Formula One World Championship will take place at the Suzuka Circuit where some epic battles for not only the race but the Championship have taken place in the past. For WilliamsF1 it was in 1987 at the first race there that Nelson Piquet claimed his third Drivers’ Championship, but for Team Principal, Frank Williams, the race in 1994 was the most memorable. Damon Hill beat Michael Schumacher in a race, that was interrupted by torrential rain, and took the Championship down to the wire in Adelaide with the drivers on equal points. This was the second of three wins for WilliamsF1 in Japan and the first of two for Damon. The team is hoping for something special again this year, but perhaps not the earth tremor the track suffered during free practice last year.

Ralf Schumacher "Suzuka is my favourite circuit on the race calendar and it is one of the most difficult. It is not easy to be quick here as you have to know the track very well. It is also very positive that the safety has improved for this year. The only downside is it is very difficult to overtake here, and there is only one place where it is possible. For me it is nice to go back to Japan where I won the Formula Nippon Championship in 1996 and I am hoping for a better result for us than in the US."

Juan Pablo Montoya "I have raced twice in Japan in CART, although it was at Motegi and not Suzuka, and nearly won both races. I thoroughly enjoyed myself there, as I think it is an interesting place. Suzuka is somewhere I am really looking forward to going as I have been told it is a proper racing cirucit - a great track with great corners. I am just hoping we can get a good result there."

Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer) "Suzuka is the last race on the calendar and is one of the most exciting circuits – in the same league as Spa. The high speed flowing corners to start the lap, combined with a hairpin, a chicane and the infamous high speed 130R, are a tall demand on the drivers and rhythm is an important aspect of being quick at Suzuka. The Japanese circuit usually requires maximum downforce and a stiffer than normal set-up to ensure high speed stability. Braking is also important for the two stops at the hairpin and the chicane. Michelin have some knowledge of the circuit, although not from Formula 1, but they are planning a good step forward again in construction and compound. Engine power is important to be able to run the high wing levels. This aspect also makes it difficult to overtake, although a great opportunity exists into the chicane. The high fuel penalty and tyre degradation usually means a two stop strategy in the race."

Dr Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director) "We are already looking back at a very successful season. Four wins, four pole positions and seven fastest race laps is much more than we could have expected for only the second year of our Formula One project. Now we hope for a good race result to round off the season. In terms of engine power we are well prepared for the Suzuka circuit."

For the fifth time since the first Japanese Grand Prix in 1976 the race will be the final one on the Grand Prix calendar. Sadly for the fans, unlike last year and nine other times in the races 16-year history, it will not be the Drivers’ Championship decider. However, on several occasions the race at the Suzuka circuit has proved to be one of the most exciting of the year.

Suzuka has been the home of the Japanese Grand Prix since 1987, but before that two races were held at the Mount Fuji track in ’76 and ’77. The only other Japanese circuit to hold a Formula One race was the TI Circuit Aida, and the Pacific Grand Prix was held here in ’94 and ’95, with the Championship being decided there in the latter of the two races.

The Suzuka circuit is 3.644 miles (5.864 km) long and the 53 lap race will be 193.037 miles (310.596 km) long. The race will start at 14.30 local time (05.30 GMT) on Sunday, 14th October.

Last year’s winner was the newly crowned World Champion, Michael Schumacher, in his Ferrari, but the current lap record was established in 1997 by Heinz-Harald Frentzen in a WilliamsF1 Renault FW19 with a time of 1min 38.942s (132.576mph/213.361km/h).

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Williams