Both Brendon Hartley and team mate Pierre Gasly will be looking forward to a better Grand Prix in Japan this weekend. Both Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers spun out of last weekend’s Russian Grand Prix with brake issues on the same lap, a coincidence rarely seen these days. Hartley has raced in Japan in the World Endurance Championship but not at this weekend’s Suzuka Circuit.
“Suzuka is definitely one of the highlights on the calendar and everyone in Formula 1 talks about the track, especially the high speed sector 1, where you really push these modern Formula 1 cars to their limit,” commented Hartley. “I expect this sector will be the place where the current cars feel the most impressive. In the past, I’ve driven Suzuka on F1 simulators and I did so again last week in preparation for this race, which will be the first time I actually drive the track.
“I have raced four times in Japan in the World Endurance Championship, but it’s always been at the Fuji circuit. I had some success there, with one win and a couple of third places and I always enjoyed experiencing the passion of the Japanese fans.
“I’m expecting a huge amount of support in Suzuka for Honda and Toro Rosso. I’m looking forward to it, because I always enjoy spending time in Japan; I love the food and the culture and hanging out with the people there.
“We’re heading to Japan immediately after Sochi, with a busy schedule of visiting Honda’s F1 facility in Sakura, as well as other factories. Being Honda powered, it will be an important race for us and I hope we can put on a good show and deliver some points for the Japanese fans and the all the Honda guys.”
For Gasly it is quite the opposite to Hartley having competed in the very quick Super Formula Series in Japan last season.
“Japan will feel a bit like my second home as I spent so much time there last year, when I was racing in Super Formula with Honda,” said Gasly. “It was a special season with great memories from the actual racing and also away from the circuits. It’s a country I really like for its culture, the mentality of the people and the way they think.
“I think it was very useful working with Honda last year, as I got an understanding of how they go about things, which is proving useful to me this season. Going back there as a Formula 1 driver and with Honda is something I can’t wait to experience.
“We have a busy schedule visiting various Honda facilities before we get to Suzuka, which will be interesting. I hope we can go well there to thank all the Japanese fans for their support.
“I loved racing at Suzuka, it’s one of the great tracks. The first section in particular with the run of “Esses” is a fantastic challenge, one of the best bits of track we race on all year. It’s very fast and you can really test the limits of the car. It will also be emotional for me, returning there after what happened to Jules (Bianchi). Whenever I go to Suzuka, I always go and visit the spot where he had his accident.”