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Japanese Grand Prix Preview

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Track: Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan
Scheduled number of laps: 53
Circuit length: 5,807 km (3,608 mi)
Race distance: 307.471 km (191.054 mi)
Race start time: 06:00 BST
Lap record: 1:31.540 (Kimi Räikkönen, 2005)
2014 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG Petronas, 1:32.506
2014 Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG Petronas
Tyre Compounds: Medium, Hard, Intermediate, Wet
Most Wins: Michael Schumacher (6)

After a hectic race under the floodlights in Singapore, Formula 1 crews are headed straight to the Suzuka Circuit, Japan in what is only the second time this season when races are held on back-to-back weekends, after China and Bahrain back in April. This year marks the 42nd running of the Japanese Grand Prix and the 27th time it will be hosted by Suzuka.

Last Sunday’s race saw Sebastian Vettel take his 3rd win of the season in dominant fashion. Meanwhile, championship front runners Mercedes surprisingly struggled for pace all weekend as a result of being unable to make the tyres work properly. Moreover, the team had to retire Lewis Hamilton’s car, leaving Nico Rosberg to do the damage limitation by ultimately finishing fourth. Heading into Japan this weekend, the pressure will certainly be on the Mercedes team to deliver answers to the Singapore mystery and return to winning ways on a track that should theoretically play to their strengths. And if Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff is right about Singapore being “a very specific” track where “the tyre operates differently to many different circuits”, as he told Sky Sports F1, it’s highly likely that whatever problems the team experienced last weekend will not plague them again in Suzuka. Still, there is a touch of uncertainty regarding Mercedes’ performance this weekend, which will surely dissipate right away if Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg find themselves back in the groove come Friday’s practice sessions. If they somehow don’t, Ferrari will surely be there to capitalize. By winning in Singapore, Sebastian Vettel reignited his title hopes and is now looking like a real threat to Nico Rosberg’s 2nd position in the championship, now only 8 points adrift of the Mercedes driver. While aware of the fact that it would take a miracle for him to snatch the title this year, with Hamilton 49 points in front, Vettel is now more up-beat than ever and is looking poised to give everything he can, having his impressive comeback in 2012 as an inspiration. In the last few races, the Maranello outfit has made several strides in the right direction when it comes to both engine performance and chassis efficiency and is looking like more of a challenger to the Brackley-based Mercedes team. However, the Mercedes F1 W06’s advantage over the rest of the field is still pretty much there, meaning that Lewis Hamiton and Nico Rosberg are, once again, the clear favorites ahead of the race.

Going down the field, Williams, Force India and Lotus are all looking for a good race in Japan. The Mercedes engine in the back of their cars will allow them to take full advantage of the fast sections of the track, particularly the straights. On the other hand, the Renault powered Red Bull and Toro Rosso will need to make up for their power deficit in the corners, while McLaren and possibly Sauber are set for another difficult weekend.

Out of all the drivers on the grid, Sebastian Vettel is by far the most successful driver to race around Suzuka, with 4 wins and 4 pole positions to his name. Lewis Hamilton took home two wins and two poles in Japan but one of his victories and both of his pole positions were scored at the Fuji Speedway rather than Suzuka. The only other Suzuka winners on the grid are Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen, with one win each. Felipe Massa had also scored a pole position here back in 2006.

formula 1 Grand Prix Japan preview Suzuka

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