Lewis Hamilton is hoping to maintain the momentum from his victory in Singapore when he makes his Suzuka debut at the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend. The 24-year-old world champion has endured a frustrating season in which he has failed to mount a real title defence. Sunday's victory under the lights at the Marina Bay street circuit was Hamilton's second of the season and provided him and his McLaren team with some hope that they can be competitive in the last three races.
While Hamilton has raced twice before in Japan since his debut season in 2007, this will be his first time at Suzuka, with the track making a return to the calendar after a two-year absence. "I have never been to Suzuka but I have heard that it is, apart from Monaco, the best circuit," he said. "Just growing up watching television with Ayrton [Senna] and Alain [Prost] and Fernando [Alonso] and Kimi [Raikkonen] racing there, I always wanted to go there.
"I am very excited to go. I am sure it will be a very tough weekend and undoubtedly it will be very tough to learn that circuit and master it in one weekend but I will do all I can. Despite Hamilton's optimism, the McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said it would be hard for the team to repeat the success they enjoyed in Singapore. "We go to Japan knowing that overall victory will not be easy to achieve, but improvements we evaluated in Singapore, particularly some useful changes to the floor, should give us a competitive boost and it will be interesting to see how our pace translates against that of our rivals," he said.
Meanwhile, Ferrari are poised to announce that the double world champion Alonso will join the team for 2010. The BBC reported that the deal would be made public at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix. The Spaniard, 28, is said to have signed a two-year contract. * PA Sport