F1 drivers hope to bring joy to Japan

    A group of Formula One fans in Japan show their support for Ferrari ahead of the grand prix in Suzuka last season.

    Story highlights

    • F1's drivers have expressed their support for Japan in the wake of March quake
    • Sebastian Vettel said the fans in Japan are special as he looks to seal world title
    • McLaren's Jenson Button referred to Japan as a second home
    • Japan's Kamui Kobayashi is looking forward to racing at his home grand prix
    Formula One's big-name drivers have spoken of their desire to put on a sporting spectacle which Japan's motorsport fans can enjoy, as the country continues to recover from their devastating earthquake earlier this year.
    Japan was hit by a catastrophic quake and tsunami in March which left 27,000 people dead or missing, and F1's drivers have been telling of their continued support for the nation ahead of Sunday's race at Suzuka.
    Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel will seal a second consecutive world championship if he finishes higher than 10th in the race and the German expressed his admiration for the Japanese people.
    "The fans in Japan are special," Vettel, who has won the last two grands prix in Japan, told Formula One's official website. "What they have been through in recent times is something I cannot begin to imagine, but they are so impressive.
    "They are extremely patient and always polite and friendly and their stamina is amazing. I hope we can put on a good show for them this weekend."
    McLaren's Jenson Button is the only other driver who can still mathematically overhaul Vettel and the 2009 title winner spoke of his fondness for Japan, saying the Asian country is a home away from home.
    "I consider Japan my second home," Button, 31, said. "It's a place that's very close to my heart, and, obviously, it's going to be a very emotional experience for me to be racing in Japan for the first time since the events of last March.
    "I'm very proud that the Formula One world championship will put Japan on the world's sporting stage this weekend: while the country is still collectively rebuilding itself.
    "I hope we can put on a great race to bring further strength to the people of Japan. And to everyone in Japan, I say: 'Ganbatte! [Japanese for good luck]'"
    Button's fellow-Briton and teammate Lewis Hamilton, a world champion in 2008, praised the Suzuka circuit and described it as one of his favorite Formula One destinations.
    "The Japanese Grand Prix is one of the highlights of my season," Hamilton, 26, said. "I think Suzuka will play to my strengths: it's a track that really requires you to drive in an attacking way to be able to get a good lap time.
    "It's an uncompromising place. But that's when the thrill of driving a Formula One car is at its highest."
    Kamui Kobayashi will be the sole Japanese racer on the grid this weekend, with the Sauber driver excited by the prospect of competing in front of his home crowd.
    "I am very proud of Suzuka as this is one of the really great circuits," the 25-year-old said. "It is always really enjoyable to drive here as well. Racing here is always great and really thanks to the many fans as they are always waiting for Formula One."