Following a thrilling race in Singapore the next flyaway race on the Formula 1 calendar is at Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix.
The circuit is one of the most challenging on the calendar, characterised by the long sweeping corners and small run-offs.
The tropical weather also sometimes plays havoc with the weekend, although this weekend it looks like it could be straightforward.
Red Bull head into the race having had their 14 race run of victories unseated by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, but will they finally achieve what has been a formality since the start of the season?
Title success for Red Bull
Red Bull can wrap up the Constructors’ Championship this weekend, after the team failed to secure it in Singapore with a difficult finish.
They are 308 points ahead of Mercedes and would need to outscore the team with both Verstappen and Sergio Perez, with the margin needing to be at least 309 points by the end of the weekend.
Verstappen meanwhile could score 26 points with the win and fastest lap and have Perez score no points, and still not have enough to win the Drivers’ Championship.
It is expected that the Dutchman will take the title at the earliest in Qatar, which is also a Sprint weekend with an extra eight points available.
Ferrari challenge for another win?
Charles Leclerc is hoping that Ferrari can challenge for another victory following their successful run of races since the start of the second half of the season.
The team has done a lot of work to understand their current car concept which will help benefit them next season, with Suzuka being a key acid test for the team.
The SF-23 has shown impressive pace at the low downforce circuits, but the mix of tight and twisty corners at Suzuka that require high downforce wings exposes their season-long weakness.
If either Leclerc or Carlos Sainz – who seems to favour their new setup direction more – can produce a good result, it means encouraging signs for the team going forward.
After one of the biggest accidents of the 2023 season so far, Lance Stroll will make a comeback in the Aston Martin after withdrawing from the Singapore GP.
It comes at an important time for the team as they face a battle with McLaren for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, and the non-score from Fernando Alonso after a tricky race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Sitting out of Singapore was probably a good call for Stroll as he still battles with the after effects of an ear infection, ensuring that he is fit enough to take on the unforgiving Suzuka circuit.
An F1 race is nothing without its fans and the Japanese ones take it the extra mile.
Whether its cosplay as a driver or the DRS hats, these fans could rival the many that flock to see Taylor Swift perform worldwide.
The best outfits should receive a special prize from F1, perhaps a day in the paddock?
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