Sinuous Suzuka with its demanding, high-speed turns and limited run-off is a firm favorite among many of the F1 drivers.
Among those looking forward to this weekend’s race is Romain Grosjean: “I know I won’t be the first one to say this, but Suzuka is definitely my favorite circuit of the year,” he said.
“Every driver has races that are special to them for one reason or another – a home Grand Prix, or the venue for their first win maybe – but I think if you ask most racers they will tell you there’s just something about this place that’s a little bit different.”
Valtteri Bottas only sampled the track for the first time last year and is anticipating his Suzuka race debut: “I drove in first practice last year and Suzuka immediately became my favorite track because of the high speed and the special corner combinations.”
Jenson Button says his 2011 Japanese Grand Prix win was “one of my most emotional victories, because it was the first Japanese Grand Prix after the terrible tsunami that devastated the north of Japan”.
“The thing I really like about Suzuka is that it’s such an unforgiving track,” said Button. “On most circuits, if you run wide or out-brake yourself, you invariably end up just running onto the Tarmac run-off, so you can easily get back onto the track without any penalty.”
“At Suzuka, if you run wide through the Esses, or go off the track at the exit of the Degners, you’re going to find yourself in the gravel. And I like that – I think it rewards those who don’t make mistakes, and it makes for better racing, because you have to stay honest and focused.”
Max Verstappen has picked his illegal pass on Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap of the United States Grand Prix as his favorite overtake of the Formula 1 season.
Verstappen was one of F1’s most prolific passers through 2017, making 22 overtaking moves as per Pirelli’s end of year data.
When asked to pick out his favorite in a post-season interview on his official website, Verstappen picked his bold move on Raikkonen at the Circuit of The Americas that sparked controversy when he was penalized for completing the overtake off-track.
The Red Bull driver had charged from 16th on the grid to cross the line third, only for a five-second time penalty to deny him a podium and drop him to fourth in a snap call made before the post-race ceremony.
“Of course, at first your initial reaction is something like: ‘Why? It was a great move.’ But when you look at the rules, it was not correct,” Verstappen said.
“Nothing was by the book that whole weekend. Drivers were getting off track without being penalized for it. But you always need to focus on the positives: it was still a nice race and everyone enjoyed the excitement all the way down to the final lap.
“It’s always nice to be on the podium, but to finish fourth after having started sixteenth, is still a great result.
“It wasn’t as painful as most people thought it was. In the end I made my peace with it.”
Asked if it was his best move of the year, Verstappen said: “Yes, because this year I actually didn’t have that many overtakes.
“With this car you are actually only able to overtake on the straights, which is really not that satisfying compared to last year.”