Nick Heidfeld has admitted that he hopes there will be no repeat of the monsoon-like rain that lashed the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji in 2007 - a situation that saw the Formula 1 field spend 19 laps behind the safety car at the start of the race and reduced visibility to 'zero'.

The top flight returned to Fuji Speedway last year following a three-decade absence, and having qualified fifth, BMW-Sauber star Heidfeld was on for a points-scoring finish in the race until his car let him down just two laps from home.

With three outings remaining in the 2008 campaign, the experienced and under-pressure German currently sits fifth in the drivers' world championship standings, just a single marker adrift of defending title-winner Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari and eight points shy of team-mate Robert Kubica, having registered points in ten of the 15 grands prix so far this season.

"Firstly, I'm hoping Fuji won't bring the kind of torrential rain we had in 2007," the 31-year-old underlined. "Basically I enjoy driving in the rain, but with last year's deluge it was just impossible. Visibility was zero, which led to a number of collisions.

"Somebody drove into my car as well and damaged it. Even so, shortly before the end I was in sixth place, but then an engine problem put me out of the race.

"It's a fun circuit, though - there are lots of uphill and downhill gradients and several blind corners - and one feature of the Fuji circuit that stands out is its extremely long straight. I'm just a bit hard on it as Suzuka was always my favourite grand prix track.

"It's a beautiful landscape, and the road from the hotel to the track could serve as an excellent rally special stage! I hope Mount Fuji is going to show its face again. Overall there doesn't seem to be much going on in the area, but that's fine after all the hustle and bustle of Singapore."

Thanks to Heidfeld and Kubica's consistently strong efforts in what is arguably now only the fourth-quickest car on the F1 grid, the Munich and Hinwil-based outfit is still in outside contention for the constructors' laurels as the end of the season approaches, sitting 15 points away from McLaren-Mercedes and 14 from Ferrari, with 54 remaining up for grabs. BMW motorsport director Dr Mario Theissen is well aware that from now on, every single point will be vital.

"The spectacular night-race premi?re in Singapore is over," the German acknowledged. "For the next two races we will be stopping off in Asia as well, first in Japan and just a week later in China.

"Some team members flew back to Munich and Hinwil from Singapore, while others stayed on in Asia for a few days' relaxation. Others, in turn, are travelling to South Korea, where Nick will be doing some 'demo' drives with the Formula 1 car on Saturday and Sunday.

"The Fuji Speedway celebrated its successful comeback to the F1 calendar in 2007. The circuit is in a picturesque setting in the 'Japanese Alps', against the backdrop of Mount Fuji that rises majestically behind it.

"Last year, however, the sacred mountain could only be seen on Friday, and in the sunshine it was the most photographed view. Unfortunately, it then disappeared behind a thick wall of fog and rain and was never seen again. The weather had a profound impact on the entire race weekend in 2007.

"After our unlucky experience with the safety car regulations in Singapore - the second time this season - which lost us important points, we aim to make up for lost ground in Japan. In the drivers' and constructors' championships the leaders are bunched close together, which promises plenty of excitement for the remaining races."


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