In the build up to yet another visit to the classic Suzuka race circuit, the 2018 victor Lewis Hamilton is full of confidence having weathered the storm of a revitalized Scuderia Ferrari which effectively shot themselves in the foot after three consecutive victories. If Lewis Hamilton is victorious on Sunday, he will have another piece of history to his name by equaling the record for the highest number of wins at the Japanese Grand Prix but Hamilton is all too aware that Red Bull and Ferrari are also clearly in the running.
At present, Lewis Hamilton is one Japanese Grand Prix victory behind motor racing royalty Michael Schumacher as he has 5 victories to the German’s 6! The British 5-time F1 world champion spoke to the media as to how he is eager for an exciting battle this weekend…if the typhoon keeps at bay.
"Suzuka is incredible, it's one of the most exciting parts of the year, and now so more than ever before because you've got three solid, incredibly fast teams, pushing each other and having the potential to win a race.”
The lack of consistency throughout the season makes predicting Sunday’s victor a tricky task and this request is also a challenge for Hamilton:
"I have no idea who is going to be quickest there. At the moment, Ferraris are quite dominant but maybe it will suit our car a little bit more, who knows? Or the Red Bull, maybe.
Lewis Hamilton will first need to improve his qualifying performance due to the fact that Charles Leclerc is looking for a fifth consecutive pole. Ferrari will be confident of success as Suzuka is a ‘power track’ meaning that more downforce is required on the set up – an area which the Prancing Horse has excelled at in recent races.
As well as this, Lewis Hamilton cannot count out Max Verstappen because having taken the penalty in Russia for changing the Power Unit, the Red Bull Racing front man has a fresh car ready to do battle around the Suzuka Esses and many other recognizable bends of the infamous Japanese circuit. Suzuka will be present again in 2020 as one of 22 races on the 2020 claendar
However, the other man to keep an eye on is 2019’s rising superstar Charles Leclerc. Although, the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix encounter may not be the first trip to Suzuka in the premier division of motor racing for the Monégasque, it is the first which he has a realistic chance to perform well at – so much so that many believe he could claim yet another victory having only recently achieved a double at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza respectively.
If Lewis Hamilton is to enter the history books and join Michael Schumacher at the top, we can hope that Ferrari at least keep their strategy in check and do not just hand a win to the Silver Arrows. Following Singapore and Russia…that may be easier said than done – but at least it should be great to watch. What the recent races have provided us with is a lot of questions and hopefully, this weekend, we will get our answers.