Grand Prix 2014 Japanese Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

Lewis Hamilton is quoted as saying that whilst some are interested in getting the winning trophies from the F1 classics of Monaco and Monza he is much more interested in winning the ‘modern classics’ such as Silverstone, Spa and Suzuka. The fact that Suzuka is now a classic F1 race is not in doubt in my mind and whilst there was a move for it to be shared with Toyota’s home track in the late noughties it has been a staple diet on the F1 calendar since the 80’s. It has a much fabled history and was setting for the most talked about battle blows between Prost and Senna and whilst it won’t decide the championship this season it has been the deciding round on many occasions. Track wise its not the easiest one to pass on but it is unique in being a figure of eight and having a cross over point. It also has the much fabled 130R and I for one am looking forward to seeing how the 2014 spec F1 cars look going through it this year.

Last season was the first time since 1987 that the manic Japanese fans did not have a home driver to cheer on but, barring a sudden Caterham driver change, this year they will have Kobayashi to cheer on. In fact there is an official Kobayashi stand at the track this year. Kobi has very much been a legend with overtakes and performance on this track however you would think that he has his work cut out in the shopping trolley like Caterham car this year. The other home interest is of course Jenson Button who is judged as being Japanese through marriage. JB has always been good round here and whilst the Mclaren is not a race winner this year it does seem to be getting better and Button’s form has actually, whilst unheralded, has been very good this year and I expect him to push for a top 6 finish.

Championship wise this is a complete opposite to Singapore with neither Merc drivers having good form on this track. Results wise this is Lewis Hamilton’s worst track with a 3rd in 2009 behind Vettel and Jarno Trulli in a Toyota (!) being his best result. That’s not to say he hasn’t been quick round here but its just that the results have not come. Nico Rosberg meanwhile has never got higher than eighth but will have the bit between his teeth after a nightmare Sunday at Singapore. I expect the race win to be a battle between the two Mercs and if I had to put money on it then I’d give it to Hamilton but then I’d have said that at every round this year.

Down the field it will be interesting to see if Ferrari are as on from as they were in Singapore and also if Alonso can beat Kimi like he has all season when Suzuka is most certainly Kimi territory as he has had some mighty mighty drives around here. The Vettel/Riccardo scrap has been fascinating all season and I’ve no doubt it will be a close one yet again with Vettel seemingly at least on terms with his impressive young team mate in the last few races. Williams are impossible to predict as they seem to have a super car one week and a midpack car another but its interesting to see that Massa’s form has certainly improved of late. JEV comes to Japan after an brilliant drive in Singapore and seemingly with his young Russian team mate now in hand.

Its an early morning race start if you are based in Europe and a very late night if you are over the Americas but I’m sure you’ll all be watching. Are you a Japan fan or does this race bore you to tears? Will be interesting to hear people’s views on both the race and what you expect to happen in 2014.
Always liked this race ... this track ... it had its mickey mouse follow thine leader moments with overtaking issues in the past ... but should provide some solid racing this go round ...
Well after Singapore the title race is just coming to the boil nicely. Merc must be desperate to get both cars to the start and to the finish as its never good PR to have 50% of your entries parked up instead of racing. Hope to see Williams put real pressure on Merc and again have a tight battle with RBR. Also I'd like to see JB put in a real strong drive to stake a claim for his seat in 2015.

Let battle commence!
RasputinLives Now you jogged my mind ... I get the feeling Mclaren will announce who will their drivers be for 2015 at the track owned by HOnda to get some much needed publicity

Suzuka is a great track - a real drivers track and only the best drivers tend to win at the track except Mansell who has a history of bad luck at the track and Prost because of a guy named Senna

Hamilton and Rosberg both don't have good records on the track which should be interesting then. Whilst known to be a power track which should favour MErc powered cars but its fast sweeping corners may help Red Bull's superior downforce so expect them to be a lot closer. Whilst Williams should be a lot closer than in Singapore

Some of the races have been dull but others have been exciting

The track is great because its a true drivers track and punishes mistakes

Sadly though it will remembered for the claiming the life of MotoGP rider Dajiro Katoh who crashed at the 130 R on a Honda as bike racing has never returned to the track because of it
Suzuka is a great track. That first sector is a wonderful piece of road, 130R is excellent as well and could be great in the turbo era.

Hamilton is overdue a victory there, I think reliability notwithstanding he'll get it.
What a great circuit Suzuka is. Truly challenging.

I made this video from when they returned in 2009. Quite a few drivers had never even seen Suzuka and it was an eventful meeting to say the least.

Its my favorite circuit to drive on the PS3, every corner is a challenge. Very envious of anyone that gets to do it for real.
This is one of my favorites in the F1 calendar, a proper old school track. Looking forward to it.
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