Team McLaren Fan Blog: Japanese Grand Prix 2014
I have been a McLaren fan since the days of the Flying Finn, Mika Häkkinen, and seeing Jenson Button win at Suzuka in 2011 made me really want to go to Japan and experience the race with the most passionate and crazy F1 fans, and boy they did not disappoint!
We flew into Tokyo, and caught the bullet train to Nagoya, which is around an hour's train ride from the circuit. Getting to the track is pretty easy even if you don't speak Japanese. All you need to do is follow the gaggle of F1 fans making their way to the platform. You can hear the banter between the different teams, speculation on who will be driving for who next year, and of course the big question: Will that super typhoon shower its rainy self over us on race day?
Although we did not go to the circuit on Thursday, fans can enjoy a pit walk and a driver autograph session on this day.
We arrived early morning on the Friday, and followed the crowd into the circuit, talking to fellow F1 fans along the way, picking up hints and tips on how to get around, as the signage at the track is mostly in Japanese and fairly limited. The ' Welcome to Suzuka Circuit' sign looms overhead, and you can feel the excitement in the fans as we quite literally race to the entrance.
During FP1 and 2, fans can sit anywhere they wish ( apart from the main grandstands), which is a great opportunity to experience the racing action from some of the famous corners such as the 'S' curves, the Dunlop curves, Spoon, and 130R.
Food and drink wise, Suzuka is definitely well catered for. Reasonably priced drinks can be bought at the many drink vending machines around the track, and there was a variety of food places to choose from. No burgers and hotdogs here, but all the teppanaki and noodles you could stuff your face with! It was a bit of a gamble knowing what you were buying as all signage was in Japanese, but after a few terrible attempts at speaking the language and a few giggles from the vendors, we managed to get a tasty lunch each day.
Friday was a very humid hot day, so you had to challenge yourself to walk up the many hills at the circuit. Saturday brought even hotter temperatures, and rain was forecasted for qualifying, but luckily did not materialise. For Qualifying we sat in our grandstand seats. We chose Q2 stand for the race weekend. This gave us a view of the pit straight and the last chicane. As it's the highest point of the track, you get a good overall view of the rest of the circuit.
Between FP3 and qualifying we headed straight over to the Motopia theme park, which is included in the price of your three day race ticket. We went on the iconic Ferris wheel and got a great view of the track, taking in a Formula FJ race from the sky. There is plenty to do for both small and big kids alike, and qualifying came round in no time. After the on track action had finished, we went souvenir shopping. Suzuka has some of the wackiest and unique merchandise I have ever seen. Fans can buy 'asphalt rusks' to Suzuka chocolate cookies. There is no shortage of team memorabilia, with some stalls dedicated solely to Kobayashi.
Talking of Kobayashi, that brings me to the fans. The amazing and incredible Japanese fans. From replica F1 cars on their heads, to the Ferrari horsemen, a weekend at Suzuka is so entertaining. Fans are more than happy to have their pictures taken, and engage in the banter between the teams. That's what I love about F1 fans.
Sunday suggested that there would be very wet and windy conditions, so we came prepared with our Suzuka ponchos. The circuit was drizzly, and there was a sea of umbrellas ahead of us as we got through the gates. We arrived for the drivers’ parade, and took our seats at the grandstand, keeping dry the best we could. The rain eased off a little and the race started behind the safety car. When the race finally got going after being red flagged, it was an exciting watch as the track dried out. Unfortunately the rain did fall again, and conditions on track deteriorated. This ultimate led to two serious crashes, and the race being red flagged.
The end of the race was not how the fans would have wanted, and there was a lot of confusion as to what had happened out on track. We could tell by the podium ceremony that something serious had occurred. There was a subdued atmosphere amongst fans as we walked to the train station from the circuit, a mixture if confusion and concern for the drivers involved.
The Japanese Grand Prix is well worth going to; the Japanese fans are so enthusiastic and friendly, and the souvenirs and food are the best. If you are lucky enough, some of the drivers and team members will be sharing a crowded train back to Nagoya with you. I was lucky enough to meet McLaren’s technical director, Tom Goss, who I had a brief chat with.
All that is left for me to say is an arigato for reading my blog, best of luck to McLaren for next week in Russia, and wishing Jules Bianchi a fast recovery. #believeinmclaren #forzajules.