Like I said last week, the Singapore Grand Prix is already yesterday’s news and there are no more reasons to talk about a weekend that was far from positive for me. It’s better to concentrate on the next race weekend, Japan, hoping that it starts well and ends without any unpleasant surprises. Just one more thing before I finally turn the
page: I’ve been told that there was a bit of a storm over a phrase that my race engineer said during the race. Apart from the fact that I don’t recall what Rob said, I don’t think there’s any value in stirring up trouble now and trying to link this with the subsequent contact with
Hamilton: they are two separate moments and they have nothing to do with each other. I’m sure that Lewis and I will find a way to clear this up and put a lid on this story, as is only correct between two drivers. What happens on the track should remain on the track.
Suzuka is a track I really like and it is up there with Spa in terms of enjoyment, mainly because there are a lot of high speed corners which are very challenging and enjoyable when you get it right. There’s a real mix, as there are also some slow corners in the middle section and the Esses after the first corner, where you need a car to change direction very quickly and where you can make up or lose a lot of time. In the second sector you have the slow hairpin and then Spoon which is very interesting. Everyone talks about the 130R, but to be honest since they altered it on safety grounds it has become a bit like Eau Rouge at Spa, because in a Formula 1 car it is now almost a straight. 2006 was a very good year for me at Suzuka, where I qualified on pole position and finished second: doing that again this coming weekend would be nice, but we have to be realistic about the fact we will be facing the usual tough opponents. As to Ferrari’s chances, we must wait and see until we actually go out on track, because this season we have sometimes been strong on tracks where we had not expected to be competitive and sometimes it was the opposite. By the end of Friday free practice, we should begin to get an idea of our Japanese form. I hope we can be able to fight for the top places, even if, at this point of the season, there is not much more to come in the way of updates in terms of aerodynamics and other developments. While all the drivers like Suzuka, it has often been frustrating to race there, as overtaking is very difficult, but this year with the DRS, KERS and the influence of the Pirelli tyres, I expect that situation to change. I believe the plan is to have two DRS zones which will be a big help.
I am happy to be going to Japan: I have heard that some of the MotoGP riders wanted to boycott their Japanese GP, which takes place at a circuit which is nearer to the Fukushima nuclear plant, but we need to consider that Suzuka is in a completely different part of the country. I have no concerns about going and I think it is good that Formula 1 is going to put on a show in a country that really appreciates our sport. I always love being in Japan and at the track, I will be there to do my job, but I am also hoping to see the people smiling and enjoying themselves. The Japanese fans are among the best in the world: on a Thursday when there is no on-track action, even if it is raining, they will sit in the grandstands to see what is going on in pit lane. You can feel the love they have for the sport and I am looking forward to being there together with them.
At this time of year, I begin to think of the karting event we organise in Florianapolis, Brazil in December and it’s great that many F1 drivers have signed up to take part this year. Most of the organisation is done by my father and brother and another colleague, but I also get involved, inviting people along. It started out as fun and has become a very big event, growing every year. Why do Formula 1 drivers want to spend the first weekend after the season driving a kart? Given that you drive on a small track, the speed is relatively very high, therefore it has a lot in common with F1. It is also an opportunity to race with completely equal equipment, as every driver gets the same brand new chassis and engine and you draw lots for which engine you get for the first race and then even in between the races.
After attending an event for our primary sponsor Philip Morris on Friday in Belgrade, I left for Japan on Monday, spending a few days in Tokyo, which is always a great place to visit and then on to Suzuka very early on Thursday morning, for the first of five remaining chances to end the year with some good results.