Japanese GP Williams preview

The penultimate round of the FIA Formula One World Championship sees the BMW WilliamsF1 Team head to a Japanese race track which sits right in the middle of Suzuka Land - a theme park built to entertain the families and workers at the nearby Honda...

The penultimate round of the FIA Formula One World Championship sees the BMW WilliamsF1 Team head to a Japanese race track which sits right in the middle of Suzuka Land - a theme park built to entertain the families and workers at the nearby Honda factory. Having spent two productive days testing in Estoril, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team will be focusing hard on generating more Championship points from the 3.64-mile Suzuka circuit. Within its Scalextrix-like figure-of-eight layout lies every type of corner - from the super tight Spoon Curve to the pedal-to-the-metal commitment that is demanded by 130R. Add a dash of unpredictable weather (say, a monsoon - not uncommon), stick the race at the sharp end of the season, and you have one of the seminal occasions of Formula One.

Ralf Schumacher

"There are good reasons to be optimistic about Suzuka, particularly because of how competitive we are right now - a point clearly demonstrated in Indianapolis, albeit having to retire from second place when I was running strongly behind my brother! I enjoy driving at Suzuka because of the fond memories I have from my Formula Nippon days. Setting the car up for Suzuka is not an easy job because you have to find a good compromise between mechanical grip for the slow corners and aerodynamic downforce for the faster sections of the track. Approaching the Spoon 1, you brake very late and deep into the corner. In the second Spoon the car always understeers so you must turn in earlier to balance this out. Accelerating well out of this section is very important in an effort to carry speed onto the long straight. One of the most exciting corners is 130R, which is a very fast left-hand corner that is taken nearly flat in seventh gear. At the end of it there's good overtaking possibilities because you have to break down to first gear for the chicane. Suzuka usually provides great action for fans and TV viewers and if the weather plays-up again, I'm sure it will be an exciting race"

Jenson Button

"I have fond memories of racing at Suzuka in 1996 and 1997, albeit in the Super A karting Championship. The Japanese are very passionate about their motorsport and I'm sure they'll be slightly disappointed that the race has lost its season finale status. Nevertheless, it is a circuit that places great demands on both car and driver and having studied on-board footage from last year, I can't wait to drive the FW22 on this track. I spent two days behind the wheel of the FW22 this week in Estoril and as has been the case all season, the car feels well balanced. My Formula One debut at Indianapolis was unfortunately marred by bad luck and this time I hope to avoid a repeat of any racing incidents."

Frank Williams

"Suzuka has the oddest facilities, but for me a great race track with an interesting mix of very fast and medium speed corners. I especially like watching the cars zigzagging up the hill behind the pits."

Dr Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director)

"In Indianapolis we were very strong all weekend, especially during the race. The disappointment, therefore, about the completely unnecessary double-failure was even harder to accept. Ralf had a defective gasket on the pneumatic system charger and in Jenson's car, the safety switch came on unintentionally. But again the BMW WilliamsF1 Team was closer to the top and this makes us confident for the next race. We are going to Suzuka with the same engine specification that we have been using in the races since Spa. Our aim now is to secure third place in the Constructor's Championship in Japan, preferably before the final race of the season. The 53-lap Japanese Grand Prix gets underway at 14:30 local time (05:30 GMT) on Sunday 8th October. A total race distance of 192.90 miles (310.582 km) will be covered at the Suzuka Circuit where Heinz-Harald Frentzen holds the lap record of 1m38.942s (Williams, 1997).

In 1999, the championship was between Mika Hakkinen and Eddie Irvine; McLaren and Ferrari. With Ferrari's Michael Schumacher on pole, the odds looked against Hakkinen. However, he had one of the most impressive starts of the season and shot into an unassailable lead. Two faultless McLaren pitstops assured the Finn of victory and the world crown. Ralf Schumacher finished 5th in his FW21.

<pre> Ralf Schumacher - car no. 9 Jenson Button - car no. 10 Nationality German British Born 30 June 1975, Horth (Germany) 19 January 1980, Frome (UK) Marital status single single Lives Monte Carlo Bicester, Oxfordshire (UK) Height 1,78 m 1,82 m Weight 73 kg 74 kg F1 debut 1997, Melbourne, Australia 2000, Melbourne, Australia Best qualifying 3rd: 1997 France (Magny-Cours) 3rd: 2000 Belgium Best GP fin. 2nd: 1998 Belgium, 1999 Italy 4th 2000 Germany GP starts 64 15 Points 2000 24 10 Total points 86 10 Fastest laps 1 0


                Qualifying      Race                Qualifying      Race
Australia       11th            3rd                 21st            DNF
Brazil          11th            5th                 9th             6th
San Marino      5th             DNF                 18th            DNF
Great Britain   7th             4th                 6th             5th 
Spain           5th             4th                 11th            DNF
Nürburgring     5th             DNF                 11th            DNF
Monaco          9th             DNF                 14th            DNF
Canada          12th            14th                18th            11th
France          5th             5th                 10th            8th
Austria         19th            DNF                 18th            5th
Germany         14th            7th                 16th            4th
Hungary         4th             5th                 8th             9th
Belgium         6th             3rd                 3rd             5th 
USA             10th            DNF                 6th             DNF

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Mika Hakkinen , Frank Williams , Mario Theissen
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams