F1 heads to the legendary Suzuka Circuit this weekend – home of the Japanese Grand Prix.The championship plot thickens after an unexpected twist last weekend. Here are five things we’re excited to see in Suzuka…
Will we see a long overdue Mercedes head-to-head this weekend?
Whilst it was great to see Dan Ricciardo grab his first win for two years, we were kind of robbed of an epic head-to-head duel between the Mercedes boys. Judging by his social media output this week, Lewis has clearly moved on from last week’s disappointment and seems ready to take the fight to Rosberg this weekend. With Rosberg now 23pts in the clear, a fight is exactly what Lewis now finds himself involved in, and the stats suggest this weekend could be pivotal for his chances.
If Rosberg were to win on Sunday, Lewis could win all the remaining races and still lose the title. Think about that for a second. One more mechanical failure, a poor qualifying or botched start, and he could find the title race out of his hands; a scenario that seemed unthinkable just a few races ago.
Will Honda’s ‘Suzuka Special’ pay off for McLaren?
There’s no denying that McLaren-Honda are a team on the up. Recent performances have given fans real optimism that McLaren are close to returning to the front of the grid. 38 points in the last eight races show a marked improvement, compared to 24 in the first half of this season, and just 10 in the final eight races of last season. Honda brought a new upgrade to the Malaysia Grand Prix, and with it, Alonso produced one of his best performances of the season to finish seventh – even more impressive considering he started at the back of the grid.
This weekend will be the team’s second ‘home’ Grand Prix and Honda will be eager to improve on last year’s showing when Alonso angrily declared their power unit to be a ‘GP2 engine’. A strong points finish looks possible this weekend, so for Fantasy GP fans, a punt on McLaren might be worth a look.
Are there any more twists left in ‘silly season’?
We can safely ignore Sergio Perez for just a second, as he’s now confirmed as staying at Force India for another year. Probably…we think. There are other drivers on the grid still trying to secure their future in the sport, and a few teams still to confirm their lineups for next year. Williams are expected to announce newly crowned Euro F3 Champion Lance Stroll fairly soon, whilst a little further down the grid, Renault, Sauber, and Manor all appear to be keeping their options open.
Kevin Magnussen avoided the disappointment of being sacked on his birthday two years in a row, and alongside him, Jolyon Palmer will hope his points-scoring performance in Malaysia will be enough to earn him a second year as K-Mag’s teammate. Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson seems safe for another year, but there are rumours that the team may be taking a look at Italian GP2 driver Antonio Giovanazzi for the second seat (watch this space). At the moment, Manor’s lineup looks set to stay unchanged for next year, as Mercedes seem keen to have their young drivers, Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon, continue with the Banbury-based team.
Will the Haas engineers receive any more of Romain’s radio rage?
I think we can all agree that Romain Grosjean’s team radio outbursts have been one of the highlights of recent races. I can understand why you might not feel the same way if you’re sat on the Haas F1 pit wall, but Romain assures us that it’s nothing personal and that his outbursts simply reflect the passion he has for his job.
His response this week when asked about the radio messages was “I’m not a Finn that is very calm, I’m more a Latin guy. I live for my passion.” Whatever happens this weekend, you can expect the Haas team radio channel to be a busy one.
Those Crazy Japanese Super Fans
You’ll need to go a long way to find fans as passionate, eccentric and creative as the Japanese. I don’t think much needs to be said, the pictures speak for themselves.
There are hats. And then there is *this* hat 😍#F1 #JapaneseGP 🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/DfudqSYfHD
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 6, 2016