The Renault Formula One Team looks ahead to this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. Especially Robert Kubica is looking forward to race at his 'favourite circuit of the year', Suzuka. The Pole however knows that it will still be a difficult end of the season for him and his team and will try everything he can to collect as much points as possible.
Suzuka is your favourite circuit of the year. Why? "It’s hard, it’s the most challenging circuit and it’s very, very fast. If you count the number of really high-speed corners, taken in fourth gear or above, I think it’s the most of any circuit on the calendar. The first sector is incredible: the Esses are like a rollercoaster, flipping the g-forces from side to side through very long corners, and it’s tough to keep the correct line, especially because if you make a mistake in one corner, you carry it for a long time through the next corners. Plus, there are a couple of low-speed corners, and the chicane where you have very heavy braking and it’s possible to overtake."
Why do you think we saw so many mistakes last year? "Partly it was down to the weekend: all Friday was wet, on Saturday morning people needed to do some laps, and then they pushed to the limit only in qualifying. But the biggest point is that you have a very small margin for mistakes in Suzuka because there are no tarmac run-off areas, so as soon as you make a mistake, you’re in the gravel. Often, when you’re outside the car you don’t realise that the drivers are making mistakes, because you see them put a wheel over the kerb and on the run-off area, then they come straight back on the track. But Suzuka doesn’t work like that: if you go off with one wheel, you don’t come back."
Is that requirement for total precision what you enjoy? "Of course. I like more this kind of track, this way of driving and this way of racing."
In Singapore, you qualified and raced behind the three teams battling for the championship. What level of performance do you expect in Suzuka? "I think it will continue along similar lines, and we have some tough competitors around us. Of course, we will try our best, but I don’t think the end of the season will necessarily be the easiest one for us. We do not have big new developments coming, so it will depend a lot on how much development other people bring to the car. This will have a big influence on where we end up and how good our end to the season will be."