Text: Alex Yoong / Photos: | posted October 06, 2011 17:41
2011 Japanese Grand Prix
First of all, in my view every Formula 1 race is exciting these days, with DRS and Pirelli tyres helping to increase close racing. But Suzuka is special, as it vies with Spa as the drivers' favorite track to drive on. The fast sweeping corners and the fact that it is the only figure 8 circuit on the calendar make it a pleasure to drive, even if this means it is not known for lots of overtaking. There is also not much run-off here at this track, which means if you get it slightly wrong, a big accident with the barriers is more than likely. This makes getting a perfect lap here even more rewarding.
Secondly, the battle for the runner's up spot in the championship is getting even more competitive, with Alonso, Webber and both McLaren drivers close together. Mark Webber will be keen to show that he can win races in the same car as Vettel and finish behind his teammate in the championship. Alonso, forever the competitor, also has claimed on the Ferrari website that he is motivated as ever to finish this year on a high and that there is prestige in that runners-up spot.
The battle between the McLaren team mates is also interesting. Button has been consistent and quick with many saying that he has usurped Hamilton as the team favourite. And that will not please Hamilton, who needs to put his erratic form behind him and score some wins. His whole approach has been criticized by many this year, and he needs to show some of the calm Button has shown and bring out the best of himself.
I personally will also be looking very closely to the midfield. It has been really close this year with the five teams showing good pace at different parts of the year. These 5 teams being Renault, Force India, Sauber, Torro Rosso and Williams. Renault has quite a big lead in 5th position in the championship, but out of the 5, in the last couple of races, they have been the weakest. With 5 races to go, I will be keen to see which of these teams will show up the strongest as the season ends.
Now with so many long sweeping corners and the fact that Pirelli is bringing the soft and medium tyre, 3 pit stops could be the norm. It is hard to predict tyre wear until they run on Friday. However, a quick driver that can make his tires last and only do 2 pit stops, could be on for a good result.