Suzuka a firm favorite among drivers


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.”

Newgarden fastest as Castroneves returns in weather-shortened Barber test

Photo: IndyCar
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The Verizon IndyCar Series took to Barber Motorsports Park on Tuesday for an open test, with 24 entries tackling the 2.38-mile road course.

Weather intervened in the afternoon, preventing nearly the entire field from going out, but the weather held off during the morning enough for one session to be run in its entirety.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden led the way, with a quick lap of 1:07.979, ahead of Team Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves. For Castroneves, this marked his first IndyCar outing of 2018.

Helio Castroneves was back in an IndyCar on Tuesday at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo: IndyCar

Sporting the Pennzoil “yellow submarine” paint scheme, Castroneves turned 41 laps around Barber in the morning session, with a quick lap of 1:08.315. He was also the only driver to venture out on track in the afternoon, completing eight laps.

The Dale Coyne Racing duo of Sebastien Bourdais and Zachary Claman De Melo completed the top five.

Results are below.