McLaren keen to discover updated car’s pace at “more suitable” Suzuka

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In the round-up: McLaren look forward to this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, fresh from making the podium in Singapore on a less favourable track.

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In brief

McLaren “curious to see” how quick their car is at Suzuka

McLaren matched their best race result of the last two years in last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix as Lando Norris finished second. He was the fist of the team’s drivers to get his hands on their latest update last and Oscar Piastri will get the same this weekend.

While the team is not talking up their chances of winning this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, they expect Suzuka will suit the McLaren MCL60 more than the Marina Bay street circuit did.

“On the paper, it should be more suitable than Singapore,” said McLaren team principal Andrea Stella. “The high-speed section and smooth track” are “the main two reasons really why it should be more suitable than the circuit in Singapore,” he explained.

“There’s a couple of corners which are a bit tricky, which is the hairpin and the last chicane, and I’m really curious to see how we do there. It’s two very important corners for lap time. But I would say sector one should suit our car. So from a genuinely technical point of view, the absolute level of competitiveness will depend on how we do in the hairpin and the chicane.”

Vettel brings bee houses to Suzuka

Four-times Formula 1 world champion and biodiversity enthusiast Sebastian Vettel has returned to Suzuka delivering bee houses to the track. The kerbs at turn two have been painted black-and-yellow to celebrate the bees’ arrival, with their houses located on a grass mound behind the barriers on the inside of the corner.

“I’m very, very excited. We are launching a new project called Buzzin Corner. We’re at turn two at Suzuka, my favourite track,” said Vettel. “Together with the title ‘Buzzin Corner’, we are racing for biodiversity. I want to with this project create awareness around the importance and subject of biodiversity.”

Vettel says “the bee is the perfect ambassador” for his project. “We will have an activation tomorrow [Thursday] with drivers, without taking too much of the surprise element away. But we will be having these insect hotels that I installed, and it will be tomorrow at 4pm.”

Haas praise Hulkenberg

Haas’ director of engineering Ayao Komatsu has praised Nico Hulkenberg’s impact this year for enabling the team to find the performance level of its VF-23 car.

“The VF-23 has weaknesses but one good point to start with is that our qualifying performances have been good. Nico brought such an amazing baseline, so we knew the limit of the car in qualifying, but at the same time it was clear that our long-run race pace was the issue,” said Komatsu.

“So, we’ve been really focused on that and even on the driver’s side, they’ve been open to it from day one. Of course, when the car is not great, it’s so important that the trackside team, the design office, and the aerodynamics team communicate with each other really well and understand what we need to improve.”

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Tsunoda’s racing career turned into comic series

AlphaTauri F1 driver Yuki Tsunoda has had his racing career chronicled in a trilogy of comics which is available to buy for a limited time.

Online auction company Catawiki is behind ‘The Yuki Trilogy’, which chronicles “the life and adventures of the Scuderia AlphaTauri driving star, from his unexpected race beginnings to deeply personal off-grid moments”. Tsunoda will sign the printed editions, that will be on sale in an auction running to 1st October.

Award-winning manga artist Inko Ai Takita collaborated with Tsunoda on the writing and drawing of the comic series, with Tsunoda introducing his fondness for his mother’s chicken recipe into the storyline.

“To witness my story through the lens of manga feels both nostalgic and exciting. It is a new glimpse into my journey,” said Tsunoda. Catawiki will also auction Tsunoda and Max Verstappen’s old race suits, as well as a Toro Rosso STR5 car from the 2010 F1 season.

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Comment of the day

Aston Martin have been reluctant to criticise Lance Stroll this season when asked why he is so far behind team mate Fernando Alonso. There is a gap of 123 points between them in the standings, with Alonso making seven podium appearances since joining Aston Martin at the start of 2023 while Stroll has two fourth places as the highlights of his last 68 races with the team.

Honestly, it must hurt Lance’s motivation when he sees himself so far off every weekend and unable to get close to his team mate in the same car. I don’t know if he is just happy to make up the numbers and be part of the F1 circus, but I would have thought he would be happier racing in another category with less scrutiny and dare I say it weaker opposition (within his own team at least).

Other drivers who were mediocre at best in F1 have carved out a decent career in other categories like DTM or endurance racing, I’m sure Lance could do the same. However, Lawrence [Stroll] seems fully committed to this F1 project so perhaps he wouldn’t be too pleased with Lance deciding to go somewhere else, given that this whole investment was clearly aimed at propelling his son up the F1 ranks.
Keith Campbell

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Nick!

On this day in motorsport

Sebastian Vettel comfortably took pole position for Red Bull in Singapore today in 2013

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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14 comments on “McLaren keen to discover updated car’s pace at “more suitable” Suzuka”

  1. RE COTD I have actually wondered if Lawrence’s plan is to build an F1 team for Lance to take over in the future, or if it is Lawrence who actually has the F1 passion and just wants an F1 championship for his team?
    Some may argue that Lance should be somewhere else, but even with two Fernado’s they still aren’t a championship contender, so they may as well leave Lance there while they build the team and car to win a championship. Why waste money on another driver if your true goal is to be F1 champions, let your son have some fun and if he isn’t up-to-speed when, and if, they have a true shot at the championship, then replace him.

    1. That’s pretty sad. It goes against the essence of what motorracing and especially F1 should be about; trying to end up as high as possible as drivers as well as as a team, in any season.

      1. You think Lance isn’t trying his best?
        Just because he may not be the ‘greatest’ F1 driver does not mean he should be kicked out.

        Perhaps he could prove to be a strong contender in a quick and consistent car that takes advantage of his driving style – an opportunity he has yet to enjoy.

        1. Coventry Climax
          22nd September 2023, 2:03

          That’s pretty sad too. You forgot to read what it’s actually all about.
          And S is short for the Stroll family name, I suppose.

  2. Ah second half of 2013, the half season where we all went: “Wait, Romain Grosjean is quick and consistent now?!”

    1. True.. I remember the form that Grosjean hit in late 2013. The Mercs had found good quali pace as well, but Grosjean was the closest to Vettel in terms of performance and was on the podium nearly every race for the last 7 to 8 races.

      I had become a Grosjean fan at that point in time.

    2. Not true. I never thought Grosjean consistent. And quick and suicidal aren’t the same for me either.

  3. I wonder how the loudness of the cars and emissions will affect the bees. Seems like an odd place for them. Bees are important tho, I even have a honeybee hive in my backyard!

    1. I hope they don’t complain about the noise and get the circuit shut down.
      It does sound a noisy spot for a “hotel” (although Silverstone has built one too, for people) Maybe the bees would have preferred a B&B.

    2. Will they be locked up inside on race events, or left free to be smashed into helmet visors and windscreens?

      It’s still a nice initiative though. Hard to not think it’s sympathetic as well as useful.

  4. So, a Manga about a driver’s F1 career so far.
    I wonder when will an anime adaptation come since many franchises that were originally manga turned into anime eventually.
    I doubt an actual car used for driving, though.

  5. This is excerpt from Reuters interview with Vettel, May 2022

    “When I get out of the car, of course I’m thinking as well ‘Is this something that we should do, travel the world, wasting resources?’”

    I have never been on a plane in my life. Meanwhile Vettel flies from Europe all the way to Japan, to launch… bee hotels??? How is that not a CRIME against climate? Eat the rich and their hypocrisy.

    1. You underestimate just how critical bees are for the world.

      1. The point, obviously, is that:
        A) somebody else, already located in Japan, could have have done it instead, and:
        B) Vettel could have done the same thing closer to his home without the travel.

        In both cases bees remain equally important – but without Vettel’s massive emission-spewing trip.

        He could have at least bought one of his old F1 cars and run it on hydrogen (which is an easily publicly available fuel in Japan). That’s good PR too.

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