Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix circuit – Suzuka is owned by the Honda Motor Company. It was built in 1962 and its unique figure-of-eight layout came from the pen of renowned designer, Dutchman John Hugenholtz. The track is narrow and the layout is fast and flowing, making it one of the most revered challenges on the Formula 1 calendar.
Eric Boullier – Racing director, McLaren-Honda – “Suzuka is a place that every Formula 1 fan regards as special – it’s a circuit that has hosted those classic races that have gone down in history, and produced some incredible racing and on-track battles that are talked about for years after.
“For McLaren, it’s extra-special, since it’s also the home of Honda, so returning there this year will be even more emotional than normal. First and foremost, to give ourselves any kind of fighting chance next weekend we must focus on our reliability after the disappointment in Singapore. From Marina Bay, one of the lowest-speed tracks on the calendar, we go to Suzuka, one of the fastest, so preparation will be key.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the drivers and cars cope with the challenge of the downhill grid, and the famous figure-of-eight Suzuka circuit is always a fantastic spectacle in front of the most enthusiastic fans we see anywhere in the world. All of us at McLaren-Honda are working hard to continue to show our improving pace, and we hope we can put on a good show for our fans, partners and guests next weekend.”
Fernando Alonso – “I’m full of anticipation about going to Suzuka. It’s a really tough circuit, and a huge test for the drivers, as a lot of it is really narrow and bumpy so you need absolute commitment into every corner. It has almost the opposite characteristics to Singapore in terms of set-up, so it’s a very different challenge that we’ll face next weekend.
“Like Jenson, I have a strong affinity with Japan, I love the country and I’ve always been fascinated by its culture. I’ve also loved racing there and I’ve won both at Suzuka and Fuji, so it holds a lot of special memories for me. The fans are one-of-a-kind and the circuit absolutely deserves its legendary status – it’s one of the most exciting on the calendar.
“Singapore is now behind us, but Suzuka will surely be a challenge. Our car is well balanced and feels good to drive, but on a circuit with such a high average speed it will be difficult to beat our competitors. We’ll take the samurai spirit with us to Suzuka, and as usual we won’t give up.”
Jenson Button – “Suzuka is my favourite track on the calendar without a doubt. The thrill of the Esses, the Degners, Spoon, 130R – they are a combination of corners like no other in Formula 1 and for a driver it’s a mega challenge.
“Japan is like a second home for me. My wife is half-Japanese, I spend a lot of time there, the country is beautiful and the people are so warm and enthusiastic, you can’t fail to love it. I still regard my win at Suzuka in 2011 as one of my best – it’s such a challenge to get right as the circuit is narrow, twisty, and technical, so it’s one of the victories of which I’m most proud.
“Suzuka is the home grand prix for Honda too, so it will be an important weekend for the whole team. It’s not going to be an easy race, as the track is so quick and reliant on top speed, but we’ll be giving it our absolute all for the fans.”
Yasuhisa Arai – Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport: “It is a wonderful feeling to be back home and to be racing in front of our fans. The fans are incredibly passionate and loyal to F1 and to Honda, so as the McLaren-Honda team, we will do our best this weekend.
“That said, Suzuka is a notoriously technical and difficult circuit for all cars and drivers. We have to be realistic that the race will be a big challenge for the team this weekend. Our engineers have started their preparations for the task ahead for what will hopefully be a good race.”