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Japanese GP: Preview - Alpine

NEWS STORY
06/10/2022

Esteban Ocon heads to Japan looking for a return to the points this weekend. Fresh from the humidity in Singapore, Esteban explains why Suzuka is such a popular destination for Formula 1 drivers.

How do you reflect on Singapore?
Esteban Ocon: "How the weekend unfolded for us in Singapore did not reflect how competitive the car was and the potential we know it has. We were very disappointed to walk away with two engine-related retirements and I know the team is working hard to get to the bottom of the issues to ensure they do not happen again. Days like these happen in racing unfortunately, but we've got a chance to bounce back quickly in Suzuka this week."

Back to Japan this week, what are your thoughts on coming back to this popular track?
EO: "It's great to be back in Japan, a country many of us haven't been to since 2019. On my side, I haven't raced here since 2018 which seems like a very long time ago. Suzuka I think is one of the most exciting tracks in the world and definitely my favourite on the F1 calendar. The atmosphere is really amazing, and the fans are always so passionate and very knowledgeable. I hope they are as happy to have us back as we are to be back in this beautiful country and at such a historic track."

What makes this circuit so special in your opinion?
EO: "Suzuka is truly iconic. It is the only figure-of-eight configuration on the F1 calendar, which I think is interesting. Sector 1 is one of my favourites as it is very fast and I love the exhilarating corner sequences this circuit offers. There aren't many run-off areas either, so you have to be very precise and clinical in your driving. I like the old-school aspect of it too, very challenging and demanding. And of course Japanese fans are some of the most passionate fans you'll find, they're always very nice and even give us gifts, some of them really original! I hope we can put on a good show for them this weekend."

Returning to the points will be key this weekend for Fernando Alonso, following two consecutive DNFs. In what will be his sixteenth Grand Prix in Suzuka, he is eager to impress once more at one of his favourite circuits on the calendar.

It was an unfortunate end to your Singapore Grand Prix. How do you reflect on the weekend at Marina Bay?
Fernando Alonso: "We deserved a strong result in Singapore after a very good weekend. I felt confident with the car from Free Practice 1 and we were able to deal with all of the mixed conditions. It was very stressful and challenging in the hot and humid conditions too. We qualified well but then a mechanical failure ended our race. Up to that point I was very pleased with my weekend. We have lost ground to McLaren in the fight for fourth position, so we now need to bounce back and score well in Suzuka this weekend."

Suzuka is a favourite of yours. What makes it special?
FA: "Suzuka is a thrilling test for Formula 1 drivers. It's a historic track and one of the most fun places to drive. We go from a street circuit to a more traditional track this weekend, but it has several challenging corners and sequences. The weather can be mixed too so you don't know what to expect. I also love the culture in Japan and the fans can create such a special atmosphere. It's for sure one of my favourites of the year."

Do you have a favourite moment from your fifteen races there?
FA: "I've had a lot of good memories there. I think one of my best moments was the overtake on Michael going into the famous 130R corner. It was a good overtake and not somewhere that is easy to make that move given the sheer speed of the corner. We won the race in 2006 as well which was a huge moment in the Championship heading into the season finale in Brazil. This places holds some good memories for me and the fans are always so great."

Japanese Grand Prix Factfile

• Fernando Alonso made history in Singapore, with the Spaniard now having the most Formula 1 race starts (350 Grands Prix)

Esteban Ocon's best finish in Suzuka was sixth place in 2017

• Fernando won at Suzuka in 2006 with a sixteen-plus second lead to Felipe Massa.

• There are four previous winners of the Japanese Grand Prix on the current grid (Fernando being one of them)

• Six Japanese Grands Prix at Suzuka have been affected by rain

Renault-powered cars have had 10 wins, 29 podiums, 10 poles, and 481 points

• 126 starts for Renault/Alpine-powered cars in Japan

Renault/Alpine chassis' have raced in Japan 28 times

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