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Reports & Results from the Japanese GP

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Track Layout (from the FIA)

Reliability will be the key!

McLaren have taken the lead in the Constructors' Championship from Renault in Brazil. They now lead by 2 points with 2 races to go.
The Championship will go McLaren way if they manage to finish both cars in the final 2 races otherwise it will be Renault's!

The McLaren is stronger although the gap looked smaller in Brazil and with Alonso clinching the title, there is no doubt we will see a more aggressive approach from the new World Champion. 

Juan Pablo Montoya - McLaren MP4/20 - 2005

The track at Suzuka is another drivers' circuit and ranks alongside Spa as a favourite with the drivers as well as the fans. The challenging 130R corner pushes both driver and machine to the limit.
Suzuka has a high number of corners and is very demanding on tyres.
The weather could also pose a challenge. Last year the whole of Saturday was cancelled due to bad weather and qualifying was run on Sunday morning!

Most teams conducted their final test of the season at Jerez while Ferrari tested at Paul Ricard. Teams concentrated on tyre evaluation for the final 2 races of the season. 

Here is a team by team preview:

McLaren: Take the lead in the Constructors' Championship by two points after scoring their first 1-2 finish of the season!. They will once again be the team to beat but will they be reliable enough ?.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 9.7/10 (Latest McLaren Mercedes Team News)

Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen was beaten in Brazil by his team-mate. Will he bounce back in Japan or will he be less motivated now that the Drivers' Title has been decided. A win is possible regardless!.

Juan Pablo Montoya showed us that he can beat Raikkonen. He now needs to show consistency in the final two races and put pressure on Raikkonen for next year. He could win here!. 

Renault: Appeared closer to McLaren in Brazil and this is a good sign for the sport. They lost their lead in the Constructors' Title and unless McLaren run into problems it is unlikely they'll regain the lead. The chances of McLaren having problems is high though! 
Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 9.5/10 (Latest Renault Team News)

Drivers: Fernando Alonso became the youngest ever Formula 1 World Champion in Brazil. He can now race with less pressure on and expect a more aggressive approach. He could win the race but a 3rd place is more likely.

Giancarlo Fisichella struggled in Brazil and finished 5th behind Michael Schumacher. He continues to be outpaced by Alonso and that isn't a good sign. Renault want a driver that can push Alonso. 4th place likely.

Ferrari: They are likely to retain 3rd place in the championship however Suzuka is hard on tyres and that could prove problematic for them and Bridgestone. Toyota are 17 points behind and it isn't impossible for Toyota to catch them if Ferrari don't score points!.
Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 8.5/10  (Latest Ferrari Team News)

Drivers: Michael Schumacher managed a good result in Brazil finishing 4th and ahead of a Renault. Suzuka is hard on tyres so don't expect a good result here.

Rubens Barrichello finished in the points in Brazil however it seems that Barrichello is just counting down the days to leave the team. Points unlikely.

Toyota: A poor race in Brazil saw their chance of fighting for 3rd with Ferrari nearly evaporate!. They are introducing a B-Chassis for the race in Japan and are hoping to narrow the gap to Ferrari and take the fight for 3rd to China.
Decision to switch to Bridgestone (not yet confirmed) may affect them in their final two races.
Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10 (Latest Toyota Team News)

Drivers: Jarno Trulli started 18th in Brazil due to an engine change and couldn't improve much from that position. He should have a better race here. Points possible if the new chassis proves reliable.

Ralf Schumacher scored a point in Brazil but the team needs a better finish if they are to close the gap to Ferrari. Like his team-mate, he is likely to finish in the points if the car proves reliable.

Williams: Had a nightmare of a race in Brazil when both drivers were knocked out (Webber actually did race a few laps down!). Their car didn't look strong in qualifying.
They have done well here in the past but it will be difficult for them this year. They will most likely finish in 5th place this season regardless of the results from Japan and China!
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 8.5/10 (Latest Williams BMW Team News)

Drivers: Mark Webber needs a good result to end the season on a high. Points will be difficult though.

Antonio Pizzonia will be put to the test here. He has never raced at Suzuka and if he impresses it could mean a race seat with the team next year. If he struggles then he won't get another chance. Points unlikely

BAR: Honda will try to impress at home. The team has virtually no chance of catching Williams but they will try. They have done well in the past here and they could be the best of the rest.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10 (Latest BAR Team News)

Drivers: Jenson Button struggled in Brazil and only managed 7th. Should bounce back here and score more points. Podium unlikely though.

Takuma Sato may be leaving BAR Honda at the end of the season but he has an impressive record at Suzuka. He has finished in the top 6 in the 3 times he participated. Points likely if he keeps his cool and may get too close to his team-mate! 

Red Bull: They are now firmly in 7th place and are likely to stay there. They had a poor race in Brazil and would want to do better. Points though are always difficult when the top teams finish.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 8.0/10 (Latest Red Bull Racing Team News)

Drivers: David Coulthard ruined his race and that of the 2 Williams drivers as he tried to overtake them at the start. Will try to make up for that but points will be difficult.

Christian Klien once again finishes outside the points. He is very consistent and soon the top teams will notice him. Points only if many in front struggle.

Sauber: Struggled in Brazil and will not do much better here. They will most likely finish in 8th for the season and the team would be concentrating on the BMW takeover and next year's car.
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 8.0/10 (Latest Sauber Team News)

Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve needs to impress in the final two races if he is to retain his seat and race for BMW next season. He may do well but points will be very difficult.

Felipe Massa has 2 races remaining with Sauber before moving to Ferrari. He will try to score more points to finish ahead of his team-mate but that will be hard.

Jordan: Another team settled in their position and preparing for next year under Midland. 
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 7.0/10 (Latest Jordan Team News)

Drivers: Tiago Monteiro suffered his first retirement of the season. He almost made it all season without retirement. He has proved to be very consistent and will likely remain in Formula 1.  

Narain Karthikeyan seems to be going backwards. Japan is a difficult track and he will struggle.

Minardi: Will be taken over by Red Bull on the 1st of November to be used as a "junior" team. The same role Minardi had taken on for several years now!
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 7.0/10 (Latest Minardi Team News)

Drivers: Christijan Albers will try his best to impress in the hope of finding a seat next season.

Robert Doornbos is in the same situation as his team-mate. 

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