2016 Japanese Grand Prix previewby Peter Higham on 6th October 2016
This weekend will be the 32nd time that the Japanese Grand Prix has been a round of the Formula 1 World Championship. Fuji has hosted four, Suzuka 27 so far. It is one of the races where McLaren holds the record number of victories – nine to Ferrari’s seven. Bouyed by a double points score a week ago, McLaren's engine supplier Honda will be hoping for similar success in front of its home crowd. A year ago both cars finished outside the points that prompting Fernando Alonso’s "GP2 engine" radio message. Both drivers are former winners of the race, Alonso in 2006 and 2008 and Jenson Button in 2011.
Lewis Hamilton’s three Japanese GP wins include victory in the last two seasons. However, he has not qualified on pole position in Japan since his maiden championship-winning year in 2008. Team-mate Nico Rosberg started the 2014 and 2015 races from pole but this is yet another venue where he is searching for his first victory.
Sebastian Vettel is a four-time winner of the Japanese GP and he has finished on the podium for the last seven years. Kimi Räikkönen won the race in 2005 and has scored five podium finishes, although the last one was in 2008. Valtteri Bottas qualified third and scored points for Williams in 2014 and 2015 while rival Force India has scored points in three of the last four Japanese GPs. Esteban Gutiérrez finished the 2013 race in seventh position to score the only points of his F1 career so far.
Last weekend’s 1-2 finish was Red Bull’s first since the final race of 2013. The team had an unhappy 2015 Japanese GP with both cars finishing outside the points after compromised races – Daniel Ricciardo suffering a puncture at the start and Daniil Kvyat starting from the pitlane.