In a race punctuated by the Safety Car and Virtual Safety Car, Fernando returns to the points in P8 while Lance's recovery to the top 10 is halted by an unfortunate retirement.
Need to know: Japan
As Fernando looks ahead to the Japanese Grand Prix – where he and Lance look to return to the points – he reveals why the race at Suzuka Circuit is so special to him, discusses details of his new helmet for this weekend, and shares his targets for the rest of the season.
How do you reflect on the Singapore Grand Prix?
"We had high hopes for Singapore due to the nature of the circuit as it often throws up unpredictable results, but it was not our weekend in the end. We suffered with a damaged suspension fairing from the second lap of the race, which impacted our performance and made the race difficult for us. We will take a lot of learnings from it and improve for next time, but overall, a race to forget for us.
"The main thing is Lance [Stroll] is okay after his bad crash on Saturday.
"Hopefully we have got rid of all our bad luck in Singapore, and we will look to bounce back and be better in Japan.”
What are your expectations as you and Lance prepare for the 16th round of the season?
"It's a great circuit to race on with a lot of history and passionate fans, so I'm looking forward to it. It always provides good wheel-to-wheel racing.
"We are going into this weekend cautiously. Let's see where we are come Saturday. The weather also is unpredictable at this time of year and that can throw up some chaotic races.
"We will be prepared for anything."
We will keep fighting.
What makes Japan so special for you?
"I like the culture of Japan, in particular the samurai culture, where discipline is very important.
"The people are so polite, and fans are always giving us gifts at the circuit and in the paddock and we are very grateful."
You've got a new helmet design. Can you talk us through it?
“It's a very special helmet this weekend and it has a lot of symbolic parts to it. I am a fan of samurai culture and that is one of the things that inspires me.
“On the back of the helmet, the design is similar to my samurai tattoo. It's nice to be able to do this design and use it here this weekend."
What happens to the helmet once you've finished the race?
“I'm not sure yet but it will probably go to my museum in Oviedo."
What are your targets for the remaining seven races of the season?
"We want to bounce back with some strong points finishes after two difficult weekends in Monza and Singapore. We are seeing the competitive order change from race to race more so than ever before.
“We will keep fighting. There are seven races left on various different circuits with lots of points available.”
Insight and Speed
In the past five Japanese Grands Prix, there have been three Safety Car deployments and three Virtual Safety Cars. Last year, a red flag was deployed – lasting 127 minutes – due to bad weather. Historically, there is an 11 per cent rate of retirement at Suzuka.
Given its narrow confines, overtaking at Suzuka can be difficult – despite a long back straight that leads onto the high-speed 130R. In 2019 and 2018, however, there was an above-average number of overtakes with 37 per race.
Tyre degradation is high at Suzuka and the hardest compounds – C1, C2 and C3 – have been allocated by Pirelli. There is a relatively high pitstop loss with a pitlane speed limit of 80km/h and a mix of one- and two-stop strategies is expected.
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How does an F1 team overcome jetlag?
The final flyaway leg of the 2023 campaign began with a night race in Singapore, which allowed teams to remain on European time. The Japanese Grand Prix takes place at 14:00 local time, which means jetlag is a factor for the travelling crews.
Our team will have a few days to get used to eating and sleeping on Japanese time, as most of them will have flown from Singapore to Japan early in the week. Eating is a particularly significant part of managing jetlag: mealtimes go hand-in-hand with sleep, so it's important to adhere to those times more strictly than usual when getting used to a new timezone. In the same vein, a regimented sleep schedule is important.
Natural light also plays a crucial role in overcoming jetlag; exposure to natural light can reset the internal clock and help synchronise circadian rhythms with the new time zone.
Unlocking the Lap
The double-apex opening corner sees drivers go flat out into the opening right-hander and braking hard into the second bend, hugging the inside kerb to get a solid launch into the unforgiving Esses.
Through the Esses, it's easy to over-drive and run wide, which can compromise a driver's entry into the next bend. From there drivers accelerate through the Dunlop Curve and down to the Degners – Turns Eight and Nine.
This pair of right-handers can be taken at speed but it's very easy to run wide given the tight confines. Drivers then blaze under the bridge and towards the Hairpin, which is challenging because of the uphill exit.
It's flat out to Spoon Curve – Turns 13 and 14: the first left-hander is taken at full throttle but the second sees drivers slow down, hit the apex and then pin the throttle again for the run down the following straight and the rapid right-hand 130R, which is now taken flat-out.
It's easy to lock up going into the final chicane – the Casio Triangle – and then the track rolls downhill towards the start-finish line.
Last year's Japanese Grand Prix was hit by torrential downpours and it looks like there's light rain on the way on Friday – a 60 per cent chance at this stage – with temperatures hovering around 27 degrees Celsius for the opening practice sessions.
Conditions are set to improve on Saturday with dry and sunny weather expected throughout the day for Free Practice Three and Qualifying. Temperatures are set to range between 22 and 29 degrees Celsius, while winds are set to be slightly stronger in a northwesterly direction.
On Sunday, the weather is set fair for the Grand Prix with temperatures of 29 degrees Celsius expected as the race begins and a low chance of rain throughout the race – less than 20 per cent at this stage.
In Formula One, you're constantly learning. Every lap, every mile, every second, is an opportunity to further your understanding and, ultimately, discover ways to unlock performance. In partnership with XP Inc., here are some of the key points for the Japanese Grand Prix.
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