Nick Heidfeld is hopeful that extra time behind the wheel of the Sauber C29 will enable him to impress in the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend.
Heidfeld made his return to a race seat in Singapore last time out having been called in the Sauber team to replace Pedro de la Rosa, although his return would end in disappointment when the German was forced out of the race following contact with Michael Schumacher.
Heidfeld, who will leave the team at the end of the season when his five-race contract comes to an end, said he was excited at the prospect of racing at Suzuka and was hoping that the knowledge gained in Singapore would allow him to hit the ground running when he arrives in Japan.
“I am really looking forward to the race in Suzuka,” he said. “It is my favourite of all Formula One circuits and, on what will be my second race weekend with the team, of course I will know a lot more about the car, which should help. On top of that I just love going to Japan.
“This time I will not be visiting Tokyo, but even Suzuka, where actually there is not much going on, is still the Japan I enjoy. I like the food, the culture and the excitement of the fans. They enjoy the Japanese Grand Prix so much, and this is very nice to see. The Suzuka lap has a very nice flow and a great variety of characteristics. The “Esses” in the first sector are especially beautiful. If you get these S corners right it is incredible fun.”
With Suzuka marking the home event for Heidfeld's team-mate Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber is set to benefit from extra support in front of the Japanese fans and technical director James Key said the team hoped to give the fans reason to cheer.
“It's great to go to Suzuka, which is Kamui's home race,” he said. “It's a personal favourite of mine as well. I have some fond memories from past events, and the atmosphere there is excellent. I'm sure Kamui will have a lot of support from his fans. As far as the track is concerned, it's a favourite with the drivers and teams. It's one of those high speed circuits with a lot of high speed corners and sharp changes of direction. It's quite technical, and it's a good challenge for the drivers and the engineers to set up the car.
“I'm hoping it's a circuit which suits our car better than recent ones, but you never know until you get there. Hopefully it will be a little easier to find a good balance on Friday. As far as the car is concerned, we are taking the updates we've had in Singapore. We will do further work on them to try and get more out of them in Suzuka, which is a slightly more normal circuit than Singapore. Also we will have a few additional new items which we will test on Friday.”