Toyota's Ralf Schumacher has said that it will be sad if Suzuka is removed completely from the F1 calendar next season, although he is looking forward to going to the Fuji International Speedway, which will take over the baton in 2007 and host the Japanese Grand Prix.

Speaking prior to this weekend's event, the penultimate round in the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship, Ralf added that he has a lot of fond memories from competing at Suzuka and even rates it as the best on the schedule.

"It is now over ten years since I first drove a car around Suzuka. During my year racing in the Japanese F3000 championship I grew to learn the circuit very well and it is still my favourite track on the calendar," he explained. "It has every type of corner and makes for an excellent driving challenge.

"There are many important sections on the track, notably the first sector up to and including the famous Esses. Of course I will be sad to see Suzuka go from the calendar [if that proves to be the case, which is likely], but I'm also looking forward to racing at Toyota's home track at Fuji next season."

Toyota's senior chassis general manager, Pascal Vasselon also has mixed emotions. Like Ralf though neither can be considered particularly 'neutral' observers, as while the Fuji International Speedway is owned by Toyota, their arch rivals, Honda-run Suzuka.

"This will be the last Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka for now because the race is switching to the Fuji International Speedway next year. I'm sensitive to the history and legend of Suzuka, but I enjoy the challenge of discovering new circuits so I will look forward to racing at Fuji in 2007," added Vasselon.

"Suzuka is a driver's circuit which is demanding for high speed balance because you have a lot of medium and high speed changes of direction. Grip is always massively important, but in Suzuka you can compromise that to find balance. Handling is key and the car has to be predictable and driveable. It's one of the lightest circuits on brakes but it's tough on tyres where we have to aim for the hard end of the range. In normal conditions Suzuka is a circuit which suits the characteristics of our car well so it's fair to say we are hoping for a strong race!"