Alfa Romeo: We head to Japan committed to score points

We are fortunate enough to travel the world, bringing our sport to 21 – soon to be 22 – exciting locations scattered around the planet.

In the process of doing so, we see incredible things, visit scenic places and get to experience the most spectacular sport in the world (we’re biased, we know, but stay with us).

One of the best parts of our job, however, is to experience the incommensurable passion of the fans coming to show their support: and this nowhere more so than in Japan. Heading to Suzuka (incidentally, one of the greatest venues for motor racing ever) means immersing oneself in a world of limitless energy, colour and fun.

Fans in Japan take their role seriously: witness the elaborate headgear, extensive merchandise collections and kooky trinkets each sports. DRS hats? You got them. Full-sized replica driver suits? Aplenty. Team-themed kimonos? We saw those too.

But it is not just the accessories what makes coming to race in Japan unique. It is the knowledge – almost encyclopaedical – supporters boast: every obscure detail of their favourite drivers’ lives; of their chosen team’s history; even of the technical aspects of their cars.

Every driver – and many team members too – are greeted by cheers and waves, showered in affection and reminded of their previous visits to the Land of the Rising Sun – down to the individual conversations they had with specific fans. It is a display of love unseen anywhere else. It’s something special.

Coming to Japan is to experience all this. It’s to feel the warmth of people with huge hearts, following the sport they love – and putting up a great show for it. This weekend, the spectacle will be both on track and on the grandstands.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal: “We head to Japan with the commitment and motivation to get back into the points immediately. We must not forget we have been scoring in two of the last three races, so putting both cars in the points is a realistic objective: but we still feel there is more we could have brought home from the last few races.

“The track layout in Suzuka is quite different from Sochi and Singapore, so hopefully it will suit the C38 better and put us back towards the front of the midfield. Both trackside and at HQ, we need to keep working hard to extract the most out of our car: marginal gains is all there is to go from P12 to P7 in a race at this stage in the season.”

Kimi Räikkönen: “The last four races have been disappointing for me and the team, but we shouldn’t forget we looked strong in Belgium and Italy despite the issues that prevented me from scoring.

“The key is to recover the form we had before and immediately after the break: the gap from our rivals in the midfield is not big and hopefully a circuit like Suzuka can help us get the most out of our car. It’s a track I like and the fans are incredible, so I am looking forward to the weekend.”

Antonio Giovinazzi: “Suzuka is one of those historical tracks on which everyone wants to do well. It’s a very challenging layout and to drive on it in a Formula One car for the first time will be quite the experience.

“I had a good run of races before Russia and I know we can be at that level again in Japan. It’s a very different track from the last few we raced, so hopefully we will be able to turn our fortunes around and get back in the points.”