After the two last race events, which took place at the two most modern circuits in the F.1 calendar (Singapore and Korea), F.1 is now ready to move to the Suzuka historical circuit. The Japanese track was a place where memorable challenges between Senna and Prost took place in the past and it also played a substantial role in many world titles assignments.
Suzuka is an “old style” track; it is characterized by fast and slow sectors and there are many rooms to overtake. Every mistake is dearly paid and the escape hatches are not as large as in any other modern track. It’s a tough track for drivers and cars, so something surprising can be expected.
The Japanese week end is a special one, as all experts will stay at the “Suzuka” Hotel, which is very close to the circuit. Drivers get on track together with fans, who are numerous and very expert. This week end Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen will be ready to fight for the front places behind Vettel. The constructors Championship is characterized by uncertainty, as Ferrari has one-point-advantage over Mercedes and they both fight for the second place, and Sauber and Toro Rosso are both seventh. Lotus’ fourth place and Mercedes’ fifth place are almost definite. So, the Enstone-based squad can probably stop developing its cars and make use of the current resources in the 2014 season. The situation is different for Sauber and Toro Rosso. A one-point-gap means to finish seventh or eighth, which, in terms of financial income, means a several-million-gap.
My memories at Suzuka are linked to deception; two or three times we were about to get a good result, which vanished just a few steps before the chequeredflag. .
I remember with pleasure a press conference (1990) during a party held by Pioneer (which was one of our sponsors during the Japanese GP). On that occasion the company announced it would have been a Minardi Team’s sponsor even in the following season. Unfortunately we didn’t close that agreement.
Anyway, in 1992, we scored a very important point thanks to Fittipaldi’s 6th place. At that time we were racing with the M192 which was powered by the Lamborghini engine. A funny episode is linked to the Japanese GP. McLaren was in trouble with the engine supply, so Lamborghini started a new engine development with a view to the 1993 racing season. Our engine took advantage of that development, too. Christian’s sixth place was rewarded.
Japan reminds me of nice memories. When I was there I used to spend pleasant days in Tokyo with my friend Tadashi Sasaki. I also spent my days in the search for sponsors. At that time Japan represented an “Eldorado” for what concerning sponsorship.