Turning Japanese - Q&A with Nico Hülkenberg

After falling short of the points in Russia, Nico Hülkenberg heads to Japan in a determined mood, as he gears up to take on a Suzuka circuit, which brings him a lot of pleasure.

What makes the Japanese Grand Prix so special?

Japan is a very special Grand Prix. The fans make it an incredible experience and they are so enthusiastic at any time of day, even if it rains! They are super supportive and energetic and it’s cool to say ‘Kon’nichiwa’ to them when we arrive at the track. It’s certainly one of the race weekends I look forward to. It’s a circuit I enjoy racing at and my record around Suzuka has been quite consistent in the past, so I’ll be aiming to add more points to the tally this weekend.

What’s a lap of Suzuka like to drive?

Suzuka is built for drivers as it ticks all the boxes. It’s such an amazing track behind the wheel – especially in a modern Formula 1 car - and it’s certainly one of the best circuits out there. It has a good flow to it, with some cool corner combinations, elevation changes and it’s quite physical too with a lot of G on the body and neck. There are some areas of the lap where you need to be quite aggressive and brave, but that’s the fun of it.

Which areas of the circuit are the most difficult?
I find Degner One quite tricky as the apex sticks out and if you touch it too much it sends you wide and before you know it, you’re in the gravel and into the wall; there’s not much time to recover from that! The Spoon curve can also be tough to get right, as it’s a double left-hander, off-camber and the car can feel loose as you fight the balance. But it’s an important corner, as the long straight leads off it, so a good exit is required.

What’s the verdict after Russia?
Clearly, it was a disappointing result as we aim for points at every race. We gave it a go on a different strategy to our direct competitors and I was pretty happy with the long opening stint. We were in contention, but unfortunately it didn’t work out and we fell short. But we have a great opportunity to go again in Japan and get ourselves back into the points.