''Everything is so close in the championship now''
Lewis Hamilton takes his slender drivers' championship lead to Japan hoping to continue his excellent record on tracks he had not raced on prior to his amazing Formula One rookie season.
Having not hosted the Japanese
Grand Prix for 30 years, Fuji is a circuit that will be new to all the drivers but if the season so far is any guide this will not pose too many problems for Hamilton.
Back in June he won at the Gilles Jacques Villeneuve
Circuit in Canada and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the United States. Both were tracks he experienced for the first time in Friday practice ahead of the race on Sunday.
"I haven't even seen Fuji Speedway yet, but I am sure it will be a great place to race," Hamilton said before leaving for Japan. "I have to say when I was first asked about my feelings of Fuji, I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn't be getting to race at Suzuka because everyone goes on about how great it is there. But this season I have really enjoyed going to new tracks and learning them.
"Hopefully there will be some overtaking opportunities because of the really long start/finish straight. We will have to wait and see what it is going to be like as I do not really have a major image in my mind at the moment.
"It provides a slightly different challenge so I am looking forward to it. Everyone will be in the same boat and it should be quite exciting.
The Briton has been equal to every challenge he has faced so far this season but recently team-mate Fernando Alonso
has cut his championship lead to just two points. Hamilton is fully aware that having not won since Hungary at the beginning of August, he needs to solidify his position with a win. And he needs to do it sooner rather than later.
"It would be great to win," stated the 22-year-old. "Everything is so close in the championship now, so we have to go out there in Fuji and get as many points as possible. Also, Japan is one of my favourite countries and the fans are very enthusiastic, so it would be even better to win in front of them."
Though winning in front of such a passionate crowd would be a great experience, it is winning in front of Alonso that would leave Hamilton feeling truly elated.
As the Spaniard's competition with Hamilton has grown more intense the double-world champion has become estranged from his McLaren team, seemingly unable to accept his biggest rival coming from within.
Alonso has not spoken to his McLaren boss Ron Dennis since Hungary, his relationship with Hamilton is virtually non-existent and he opted not to travel to Paris to see his team thrown out of the constructor's championship and fined 100 million dollars in the "Spygate" case earlier this month. But most importantly, despite all the problems, Alonso is confident that McLaren are still devoted to helping him win.
The Spaniard is a hardened competitor and he is ready for the fight with not only Hamilton, but also the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen
, who is just 13 points back after winning at Spa this month.
"We are not in any position to make any predictions," Alonso said. "I am sure the championship will continue to swing between all four drivers. We can still win races, and will be doing everything to make this happen in Japan."