F1 2011 Japanese Grand Prix video: Hamilton and Button on Suzuka race
PUBLISHED: 21:29 06 October 2011 | UPDATED: 23:04 06 October 2011
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton goes in practice for the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka in the early hours of Friday morning.
First free practice at the technically challenging Suzuka circuit starts at 2am UK time, with the second 90-minute session in Japan taking place from 6am to 7.30pm.
Ahead of the Japanese GP, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes pair Hamilton and Jenson Button talked about their hopes for the weekend in an exclusive team video.
The McLaren driver discuss developments made to the MP4-26 package, the Suzuka track and their love of Japan and the country’s fanatical F1 fans.
Herts-born Hamilton said: “I love Japan, and the Japanese Grand Prix is one of the highlights of my season.”
The 26-year-old 2008 F1 world champion added: “I think we’re headed there in pretty good shape: we know that the Red Bulls will be strong – but we also have a very quick car, and we can make it work on different kinds of circuit.
“Suzuka is another reasonably high-downforce track, which should play to our strengths.”
Button, who signed a new long-term contract with McLaren yesterday (Thursday), said: “I consider Japan my second home – it’s a place that’s very close to my heart, and, obviously, it’s going to be a very emotional experience for me to be racing in Japan for the first time since the events of last March.
“I’m very proud that the Formula 1 world championship will put Japan on the world’s sporting stage: while the country is still collectively rebuilding itself, I’m deeply aware that sport can play a significant role in helping to restore hope and normality to communities that were torn apart by the earthquake and tsunami.”
Button added: “For everyone who follows Formula 1, I hope we can put on a great race to bring further strength to the people of Japan. And to everyone in Japan, I say: ganbatte!”
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel needs just one point in Japan to retain the F1 world title.
Despite that, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh says the team will continue to develop the MP4-26 with one eye on next season’s championship.
Whitmarsh said: “While there remains a mathematical, albeit slim, chance of Jenson securing the world championship, we realistically go into these last races with an undimmed resolution to win, and to ensure the world championship remains interesting, exciting and unpredictable for as long as possible!
"I love Japan, and the Japanese Grand Prix is one of the highlights of my season."
“To that end, we’re still pushing ahead with the development of key areas of the MP4-26 – in particular, we’re focusing on areas where there will be significant carry-over of performance and learning into 2012.
“With the 26, the key areas of overlap development are the front and rear wings: any downforce we find this year can be carried over to the MP4-27.
“Encouragingly, we were able to successfully track-test our latest iteration of rear wing in Singapore, it proving sufficiently positive during Friday practice that it was deployed on both cars for the remainder of the race weekend.
“While there will be an inevitable shift of focus and deployment towards the new car, we still have enough momentum within the development system to ensure that we’ll still be introducing new parts through until the last few races of the season.”
Formula One 2011 Japanese Grand Prix
Suzuka Circuit Specifications
Top speed: 310km/h
Average speed: 220km/h
Pit straight length: 710m
Circuit length: 5.807km
Race length: 53 laps/308km
Number of corners: 18
Longest section at full throttle: 16sec/1,230m
Qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix takes place from 6am on Saturday.
The 2011 Suzuka race starts at 7am on Sunday.
* Video courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.