Japanese Grand Prix – McLaren’s Fernando Alonso has a busy schedule over the next few weekends, with two races on consecutive weekends in Japan.
Next stop on the F1 calendar is Suzuka, where Alonso takes part in one of his last confirmed races in the sport. It’s a venue he’s won at before, having taken the 2006 victory during his second championship year with Renault. After that, Alonso will travel over to Fuji to take part in the World Endurance Championship’s 6 Hours of Fuji, where he is racing with the Toyota Gazoo Racing team at their home event. Alonso has also won at the Fuji circuit, claiming victory there in the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix when F1 briefly switched to that venue.
“I love Suzuka – it’s one of the best tracks of the year.” said Alonso ahead of his departure for Japan. “I’ve had some great memories there – 2006 is a personal highlight – and I love spending time in Japan. This year I’ll finally be able to get used to the time zone, as I’ll be there for two weeks, one week in Suzuka and one in Fuji. I’m looking forward to it and also to visiting Tokyo, where I’ll try to spend as many days as possible between racing. “
Speaking enthusiastically about the Japanese fans, who are known for being some of the most dedicated in the world, he said: “The fans are the most incredible thing about Suzuka. They are amazing, even from Thursday when we have our media day and we go to the grandstands for the autograph signing, we see so many fans. They’re at the hotel, the train station – everywhere we go there are a lot of passionate Japanese fans.”
While Alonso will sit out FP1 again as his car is handed over to 2019 signing Lando Norris, his experience of the track means he’ll have no problems adjusting quickly to the circuit when FP2 rolls around on Friday. While McLaren are unlikely to challenge for any meaningful positions at a venue that won’t reward their package much, Alonso said it’s a circuit he always enjoys driving on: “It’s great because it’s very demanding, and perfect for Formula 1 cars. You can use all the potential of these cars and their aerodynamic performance as they match perfectly with the corners at Suzuka. The first sector is quite impressive, and when everything works well and you’re confident in the car you can really push through the Esses. The g-forces and the feelings you get when you race there are quite amazing. As drivers, we love the speed – even when it’s flat-out it’s still enjoyable.”