The championship leader has only finished on the podium once at Suzuka, with his only Japanese Grand Prix victory coming at the Fuji circuit. However, despite being in the midst of a title battle Hamilton says his primary focus is to win at a circuit where 18 of the last 19 winners have been F1 world champions.
“Suzuka is one of the races on the calendar that drivers love the most – and arguably one of the greatest tracks in the world,” Hamilton said. “There’s so much history and there have been so many defining moments there – like those unforgettable battles between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.
“I’ve never won at this circuit and have only made the podium once, on my first visit way back in 2009. I’ve had a couple of chances and last season was probably the best of those. This year, though, we have an exceptional car and I’m really hoping I’ll finally have my shot at the top step. All the greats of Formula One have won at Suzuka since the sport first came there in the 1980s and I’m determined to add my name to that list this weekend.”
Reflecting on his victory in Singapore which saw him take the championship lead as team-mate Nico Rosberg retired, Hamilton says he hopes reliability plays no further part in the battle for the drivers’ title.
“Singapore was a good weekend for me. It’s the first time in quite a few races that I’ve not had to fight through the pack to get a result which made life a lot easier. In the final stint, I had to clear Sebastian quickly after making the extra stop. But the car just felt fantastic and I could push whenever I needed to throughout the race.
“Of course, it was disappointing for the team to have another retirement but I know they have made this a priority moving forwards. It’s levelled things up in the Drivers’ Championship, so hopefully we’ll now have a straight battle right to the flag in Abu Dhabi.