F1 2011 Japanese Grand Prix: Suzuka ‘to play to McLaren’s strengths’ says Hamilton

PUBLISHED: 13:05 30 September 2011 | UPDATED: 14:52 09 October 2011

The Suzuka circuit, scene of the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]

The Suzuka circuit, scene of the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]


FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton heads to the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix next weekend convinced the Suzuka circuit will suit his driving style and the McLaren package.

2011 Singapore Grand Prix Result

1 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

2 Jenson Button (McLaren)

3 Mark Webber (Red Bull)

4 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)

5 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)

6 Paul Di Resta (Force India)

7 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

8 Adrian Sutil (Force India)

9 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)

10 Sergio Perez (Sauber)

Having put his Singapore GP spat with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa behind him, the 26-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes star will be hoping to return to the podium in Japan.

The figure-of-eight Suzuka track is a real challenge for drivers – and Hamilton loves that.

The Herts-born F1 racer said: “I love Japan, and the Japanese Grand Prix is one of the highlights of my season.

“This year, of course, we all travel to Japan extremely mindful of the consequences of the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country earlier this year.

"Suzuka is another reasonably high-downforce track, which should play to our strengths."

Lewis Hamilton on the Japanese Grand Prix circuit

“I hope that the Japanese Grand Prix can successfully show the world that the country is strengthening and rebuilding itself after the terrible events of last March.”

As for the grand prix itself, the 2008 world champion from Tewin said: “I think Suzuka will play to my strengths: it’s a track that really requires you to drive in an attacking way to be able to get a good laptime.

“It’s an uncompromising place. But that’s when the thrill of driving a Formula 1 car is at its highest; when you know you can’t afford a single mistake and where driving on the absolute limit is the only way to get the best time.

“In that sense, it’s a lot like Monaco, and maybe that’s why I like the place so much – it’s unique.”

With McLaren team-mate Jenson Button having finished runner-up to F1 world champion-elect Sebastian Vettel in Singapore, Hamilton feels the team is on the right track.

“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.”

Hamilton’s hopes, though, could be dashed by the weather. Last year’s Saturday qualifying session at Suzuka was rained off and was postponed until race day.

“The weather in Japan in the autumn is always unpredictable – we’ve seen before that it can be beautifully sunny and hot or extremely cold and wet,” said Lewis.

“I’ll take any conditions as long as I can race hard.”

Button agreed with Hamilton’s assessment that McLaren should perform well in Japan, although Red Bull will still be the team to beat around Suzuka.

He said: “In the last few races, I think we’ve shown that we have extremely good pace and that we’ve been the team most able to take the fight to Red Bull.

“On paper, I think it’s a circuit that will suit the Red Bulls, particularly in the high-speed sweeps that make up the first sector of the track, but I certainly don’t think people should under-estimate our package.

“We showed at Spa that we have a car that’s very effective in high-speed corners.

“We’ve also improved our straightline speed and we have a more efficient rear-wing for qualifying, so I think we’re feeling positive about the weekend.”

The 2011 Japanese Grand Prix takes place on Sunday, October 9.

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