Monza was supposed to be an ideal circuit for McLaren – but Ferrari won.
And Singapore was supposed to be an ideal circuit for Red Bull – but Ferrari won.
No team has managed to win three races in a row this year – can Ferrari change that in Japan?
Memories of his weekend here last year will be giving championship leader Mark Webber nightmares.
He crashed in final practice and had to miss qualifying. On race day his headrest worked loose and he picked up a puncture, forcing him to pit three times in the first four laps. He eventually finished two laps down while his team mate romped to victory.
Webber has lost ground to Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in the last two races and the battle between those three drivers is likely to take place at the front of the pack this weekend.
The first sector at Suzuka is almost entirely spent changing direction – good news for the Red Bull drivers. The rest of the lap – particularly the long flat-out sections in the final third – offer hope to their rivals.
Even so, expect the Red Bull pair to do their business in qualifying as usual. The question, as has so often been the case this year, is whether they can translate their speed into a maximum points haul.
Vettel revelled in the circuit on his first visit to the track last year, saying he was disappointed when the last lap started as he knew he wouldn’t get to drive the track for a while longer.
Lewis Hamilton also made his first appearance at Suzuka last year, finishing third. He heads into this weekend’s race badly needing to stop the rot in his championship effort after three no-scores in four races.
Suzuka won’t decide the destiny of this year’s title but if McLaren can’t keep their rivals in sight here it could prove the beginning of the end of their championship prospects.
They said the new front wing introduced at Singapore should serve them best on faster circuits like Suzuka, and a lot is riding on that and their other upgrades planned for this weekend.
Ferrari’s potential here is a little harder to measure. The F10 has matured into a solid all-rounder and Alonso has gone well here in the past, winning in 2006 and rising from 16th to third in 2005. Don’t count them out.
Remember too how strong Renault were in Spa. Robert Kubica should be close at hand to keep the championship contenders honest and punish any slip-ups.
This is a track that has a habit of throwing up surprises. Its difficult layout and limited run-off caught out many drivers last year, particularly in qualifying.
The weather can be unpredictable and already there are reports of heavy rain in the area on Saturday. A wet qualifying session and dry race at Suzuka produced a classic race here five years ago – let’s see if history repeats itself.
Drivers to watch
Four driver to keep an eye on this weekend. Name your top picks in the comments.
Sebastian Vettel – He’s closed on his championship-leading team mate in the last two races and a repeat of his dominant 2009 performance would help reduce his 21-point deficit even further.
Rubens Barrichello – Spearheading Williams’s efforts to wrest sixth in the constructors’ championship from Force India in the closing stages of the season.
Jaime Alguersuari – Has shown some improvements in recent races and deserved better at Singapore, where a car failure kept him from starting where he qualified. Crashed spectacularly in last year’s race – will he fare better this time?
The Japanese Grand Prix on F1 Fanatic
Join us to follow the action live throughout the Japanese Grand Prix weekend including the race, qualifying and all three practice sessions. Times here:
Before the race weekend starts look out for our unofficial race programme with quick links to all the important information.
We’ll have analysis of the times during Friday practice and extensive coverage of qualifying and the race.
Remember to keep an eye out for our “rate the race” feature after every Grand Prix and don’t forget to enter our predictions competition to win great prizes including F1 tickets, DVDs, paintings and books.
Don’t miss any of our Japanese Grand Prix coverage. Get the latest articles from F1 Fanatic for free via Twitter, RSS or our email subscription service. Click here for more information.
Are you going to the Japanese Grand Prix?
Find other F1 Fanatic readers going to the Japanese Grand Prix on the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix discussion page.
You can also upload pictures and video to the F1 Fanatic drop.io.
2010 Japanese Grand Prix
- Force India pair expect busy Friday
- Technical review: Japanese Grand Prix
- Tom Hitchings watches the Japanese GP at Suzuka
- Massa pleased by di Montezemolo’s support
- Hamilton takes heart from McLaren pace
- Mercedes admit missed opportunity to keep Schumacher in front of Rosberg
- Alonso says five drivers can still win title
- 2010 Japanese Grand Prix: the complete F1 Fanatic race weekend review
- Who was the best driver of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend? (Poll)
- Dominant win for Vettel piles pressure on Webber (Red Bull race review)
Image ?é?® Red Bull/Getty images