Racing Point drivers primed to continue form at iconic Suzuka circuit

After an incident-packed Russian Grand Prix weekend that saw Sergio Perez gain more vital points in what is becoming an exciting midfield battle, the Racing Point team is hopeful of more of the same at the iconic Suzuka circuit in Japan.

Perez declared his 7th place finish at the Sochi Autodrom as ‘one of his greatest races’, having made some important overtakes and sound tactical decisions. The fast, sweeping nature of the Suzuka circuit, however, presents a different challenge indeed than the streets of Sochi. But with corners such as the 130R, it’s a firm favourite for the drivers.

“Suzuka is definitely up there as one of the best circuits in the world,” said Perez in his team’s race preview. “It’s the track that all the drivers love because of the high-speed corners and the first sector is probably the best of the year. It’s where a Formula 1 car really shows its performance because of the quick changes of direction. In qualifying, on low fuel, it’s a very special feeling.

“It’s not only the first sector that is amazing. The end of the lap has the 130R corner, which is very impressive and you’re still doing 300kph at the corner exit. Even with the downforce we have on the cars these days, it’s really important to be precise because it’s easy to make a mistake or run wide.”

Echoing the words of his teammate, Lance Stroll also singles out Suzuka as one of his favourite circuits, in particular the whole of the first sector.

“I’m a big fan of Suzuka. It’s one of the best, if not the best track, on the calendar,” added Stroll. “It’s where you really get to feel a Formula 1 car come alive and each part of the lap has something special. It’s got a combination of low-speed and high-speed corners but, more than that, it’s the flow and the speed that’s incredible.

“It’s what we describe as an ‘old-school track’ without much run-off. So there’s very little margin for error and demands even more precision than most other circuits. You have to use every inch of tarmac to be quick there. That’s why it’s such a favourite with the drivers and fans too.

“My favourite corner is the first Degner, which for me is the most impressive corner of the year. It’s probably one of the narrowest corners on the circuit, but you’re doing it in fifth gear and 260-270km/h and that’s very impressive. In qualifying the sensation of speed is incredible.”

Thanks to some vital mid-season upgrades and some impressive results, Racing Point lies just two points behind Scuderia Toro Rosso and 16 points behind fifth-places Renault with all to play for in the remaining races.

“There have been many positives to focus on since the summer break and there’s no doubt that we have taken some important steps forward with car performance,” added team boss Otmar  Szafnauer. “We picked up more points in Russia and I’m optimistic that we can be scoring well in all of the remaining races.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.