Having won at all but two of the circuits on the current Formula One calendar, Sebastian Vettel has a difficult job picking his ‘favorite’ grand prix of the season, but the Japanese Grand Prix holds a special place in the German’s heart for a variety of reasons.
Vettel has won the race at Suzuka three times in his four appearances at the circuit, finishing third in 2011 with a result that was enough to clinch his second world championship. Two years later, he has the opportunity to become just the fourth driver in the history of the sport to win a fourth world title, and winning it at Suzuka would clearly mean a lot to Vettel.
“I think generally we race on the best tracks in the world and, as I said, I think Suzuka is one of the best, if not the best, in my point of view,” Vettel explained. “It’s a place where we love to race. On top of that there is a fantastic atmosphere, crazy Japanese fans. They are very passionate about us coming here and I think all the drivers we do get a lot of respect when we come here but equally a lot of support.”
For Vettel to win the world championship on Sunday, he must win the race and Fernando Alonso must finish ninth or lower. Failing this, it is likely that the German driver will secure his fourth straight title at the Indian Grand Prix at the end of the month.
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”