Thursday, 6 October 2011

Japanese Grand Prix Preview

Suzuka is one of the drivers' favourite tracks, and will likely crown this years World Champion.

One of the most demanding tracks on the calendar, as well as a really difficult circuit, Suzuka features some of the best corners in the Formula One world. But none of that is on anyone's mind this weekend. Because Sebastian Vettel this weekend is in a fantastic position to wrap up his second world championship at a track which he has a 100% record at.

In fact, it's harder for Vettel to lose than win. The German needs just one point in the remaining five races, and even if he failed to score in the final five, Jenson Button would have to win every race. Also, Vettel can secure it without the point, if Button were not to win. And with nine wins, four seconds and a fourth place, he is almost certain to be champion this weekend.

A Red Bull one-two last year
 While Suzuka hasn't produced brilliant races in the last two years, I'm sure Sebastian Vettel has enjoyed both of them. Taking dominant pole-wins in 2009 and 2010, the German will fancy his chances here. Last year, qualifying on Saturday was called off due to enormous amounts of rain, meaning it was played out on the Sunday morning before the race. Vettel eased to pole, and led from the start, but his team mate Mark Webber was passed on lap 1 by Robert Kubica. It was an exciting start though, as four drivers retired. There was an incident before turn 1 between Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg, and one into Turn 1 between Tonio Liuzzi and Felipe Massa. Vettel dominated from there on, and led home from Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso. Kamui Kobayashi put in a brilliant race though, making numerous classic moves at his home ground, mainly at Spoon curve, bringing some excitement to the race.

Its a real drivers circuit, one which requires pure focus and no mistakes. In particular, Turn 1 and 130R are hard to get right. Loads of people make mistakes here, and we saw this last year. An extremely difficult and demanding track, Suzuka is really good to drive around. Watch out for overtaking into the hairpin, and also on the final straight before the chicane. The chicane holds so many memories for Formula One, in particular Alain Prost shoving Ayrton Senna off the track to win the title in 1989, and Senna doing the same to Prost in 1990.

I'd expect Red Bull to be very strong again here this weekend, with probably Vettel celebrating his coronation with victory. Ferrari don't appear confident, and they weren't quick here last year. Nor were McLaren, who will be looking to make sure of 2nd in the constructors. Mercedes could well be good, because this is one of Schumacher's strong circuits.

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