McLaren to bring a number of new components to Japan
After the first night race in the history of Formula One at Singapore, the teams travel to Fuji for the Japanese Grand Prix. The McLaren Mercedes Team is confident towards the race in the shadow of Mount Fuji as they are ahead in both championships.
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
What sort of challenge does the Fuji circuit provide from an engineering point of view?
"It's not a particularly extreme circuit; it's not a place that really places a premium on the car or the driver - unless it's raining, of course. But, as a result, it's a circuit where you really benefit from solid, clever engineering rather than raw power or efficient aerodynamics. This year, we're bringing a number of smaller components to the car ahead of the race and will be working hard with our engineers to ensure that we can maximize our track time in order to get our cars well-balanced. Of course, we are reliant on good weather - and we learnt last year that this is not always forthcoming when you're racing on the side of a mountain!"
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
Why did Lewis Hamilton not win after Felipe Massa's refueling problems? At the time he was second and the winner came from 15th on the grid, the runner-up from eighth - Lewis ended up third.
"Up until his first pit stop, Lewis was in second position. The first Safety Car period beginning on lap 15, of course, brought forward those drivers who had pitted shortly before - like, for example, David, who was ahead of Lewis for 20 laps after his pitstop and who drove significantly more slowly than Lewis's race speed would have allowed. Drivers who could race without traffic after the Safety Car deployment had an advantage, so, as a consequence, the current Safety Car rules came under criticism."
What are the specific challenges for drivers and teams at Fuji?
"The 4.5km track at Mount Fuji is quite a difficult task for drivers and engineers. The near-1.5km-long front straight is the longest of all circuits on the Formula 1 calendar; here the cars race at full throttle for 20 seconds. At Turn 10, the cars reach only about 70km/h. Therefore, it will be quite a challenge for drivers and engineers to find the best compromise for the set-up between the high-speed section and the slow corners. Last year's data can only be used in a limited way due to the heavy rain encountered during that event."
Prior to the final three grands prix of the season, Lewis leads the Drivers‘ Championship by seven points; in the constructors‘ rankings, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes leads by a single point. How do you approach these three races?
"Three grands prix within three weeks, on two different continents, in three different time zones are a big challenge for all drivers and teams. Since Lewis's victory in Silverstone, where he re-gained the championship lead, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has scored 77 points. Our closest competitors, Ferrari and BMW Sauber, have achieved 43 and 46 points respectively. Lewis scored 46 points during that time. For the seventh time in a row, Lewis arrives at a grand prix as the championship leader. Everybody in the team will work hard to achieve that at the final race in Brazil."