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SPORTS
06 Oct 2011
TIGER WOODS EYES WINNING RETURN TO PGA TOUR AT CORDEVALLE

I've been on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, and it sounds like I'd have had the same sort of weather if I'd gone back to the UK, which is pretty weird.

Still, I'm on the right time zone for Japan, so that's a bonus, and I've also been on the right time for some great sport this week - more on that in a bit.

By the time you read this, Formula 1 will be at Suzuka - and it's a race all the drivers will be licking their chops about.

The track is phenomenal, which is a good job; there's not much else to do in that part of Japan!

It's a proper old-school track that has remained pretty much untouched. Even though safety has been improved, it has kept a lot of its old features.

Right from the beginning of the lap, you know it's somewhere special.

Turn One is a fast right-hander. Then, after the second corner, you're into a sequence of corners known as the Esses, which is pretty impressive.

It's quick at the start and each subsequent corner is a bit slower. You're climbing all the way through, before dropping down and then quickly climbing through a corner called Dunlop - Turn Seven - which is very satisfying; blind and really, really quick.


By the time you've got through all that, it feels like you've done the equivalent of about eight laps of Bahrain before you've even done one sector of Suzuka.

You've got to get Dunlop right because as soon as you're out of it you're into a tricky couple of right-handers called Degner One and Two.

You see a lot of people going off there - in recent years Juan Pablo Montoya, myself, Lewis Hamilton, and that's just the guys I can think of.

You've got to be really accurate, because the kerbs are particularly challenging. Get it wrong there, and you go from being in control to a passenger in a split second.

After a tricky little braking area through a right-hand kink into the hairpin, the track really starts to flow.

On the way to the tricky double-apex left-hander called Spoon, there's a long, looping right-hander.

It is easily flat out in an F1 car and every time I go through there I always think of Mick Doohan, the great Australian 500cc bike racer.

Suzuka is a tough venue in the wet - there are lots of rivers because of the undulations. I remember watching videos of Doohan coming through there on his way to winning a race in the rain, hanging on despite the aquaplaning.

Irrespective of the conditions, I always think how easy I've got it in comparison to him!

After Spoon, we climb the hill to the famous 130R, one of the fastest corners anywhere on the F1 calendar.

Although it has been opened up a little to improve safety and the cars have got better, it's still a spectacular corner and certainly isn't easy.


People can go off there, as Jaime Alguersuari did in the Toro Rosso a couple of years ago and Lucas di Grassi did on the warm-up lap last year.

Then, after the chicane, the last corner appears to be nothing more than an easy sweep on to the pit straight. But it can easily catch you out if you let your concentration slip.

Montoya crashed there in 2005, I went off at it a year later and Timo Glock brought qualifying to a halt with a big shunt there in 2009.

It's an area you're tempted to use to adjust something on the steering wheel. But it's a bit blind, it drops away and it's best to let the car breathe and run around the outside there. Problem is, if you drop a wheel off, you can't get it back.

That's the thing about Suzuka - there's absolutely no margin for error. Even apparently innocuous corners can catch you out. It's what F1 should be about.

Source: bbc.co.uk

 

 

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