A damaged floor and sidepod vane quashed Carlos Sainz’s hopes of a positive result in Sochi as he aims for an immediate bounce back at one of his favourite Grand Prix circuits, Suzuka.
Where does the Japanese Grand Prix rank on your favourites list?
Japan is for sure one of my favourite race weekends. Everything in Japan is great: the racing history, the track layout, the passion of the fans, the Japanese culture, it’s so unique and a really exciting race weekend. The fans are truly amazing there. They are very polite, enthusiastic and innovative, and it’s a pleasure to meet them and sign autographs for them. They always bring presents too, which is nice and they are clever with some of the surprises. I’ve even received a signed Spanish flag from the fans in the past as a way of sending me a ‘good luck’ message.
Do you like the Japanese food?
I like my food, especially the Japanese cuisine. Sushi is one of my favourite things to eat, and you can have it almost anywhere nowadays. But the Sushi in Japan is a different story. There are a couple of nice restaurants near Suzuka where I like to eat each year. Another dish I like is kobe beef, it’s a nice flavour and melts in the mouth. Japan is a good weekend on the calendar in more ways than one!
And what’s there to say about the circuit itself?
The circuit is a lot of fun to drive, a proper drivers’ circuit where our ability and skill are put to the test. Sector one is extremely physical, especially with the modern, high-downforce cars, and the never-ending right, left, right, left esses. The Degners are challenging to get right with gravel traps waiting for you on the outside. The long, Spoon curve is vital as it opens up the long-straight, which then feeds into 130R – a fast corner taken flat-out. It’s a cool lap to drive, and probably one of the best on the calendar. Nailing a qualifying lap is so rewarding at Suzuka, it’s one of the best feelings out there.
How do you reflect on Sochi?
I have mixed thoughts after Sochi. On Friday, after missing FP1, I felt quite good with the car straight away in FP2. Qualifying was all about strategy and finally on Sunday I had a strong start off the line, but unfortunately, I got hit on lap one and that was the end of our chances. We fought to the end with a damaged car, but these things happen in Formula 1. I’m keen to move on and focus on Japan this weekend. We have the chance to race again immediately, on a circuit I like, so we’ll be aiming for a strong haul of points!