Suzuka lets drivers be 'absolutely on the limit' - Chester

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Heading to Japan this week, Lotus F1 Team technical director Nick Chester explained why Suzuka is such a welcome challenge for engineers and drivers alike.

The nature of the 3.61-mile (5.807km), 18-turn course means that the drivers are on full throttle for 90 per cent of the time, and the circuit is hard on tyres although not so punishing on the brakes. But it's the mix of long straights and high speed corners that make the circuit such a demanding one for everyone concerned.

"The challenges are the high speed corners," explained Chester. "You can’t run maximum downforce in Suzuka - as you will end up a little too slow on the straights - so you need to give the driver sufficient downforce to give confidence in the fast twisty bits whilst not clipping their wings down the straights.

"This is part of the reason why Suzuka is such a driver favourite, as drivers can be absolutely on the limit without the car totally stuck to the ground through maximum downforce.

"It’s not just having sufficient downforce, it’s ensuring that this is delivered in a balanced nature. Getting the suspension set-up spot on is essential here too. You need to extract all the grip that’s possible from the car."

Making it even harder is the fact that Suzuka is the second outing of a back-to-back stint in the 2015 schedule, with the team packing up on Sunday night at Singapore and jetting straight into Suzuka less than 48 hours later.

"It does make for a busy week with the added challenge of the crew changing their body clocks to local time after fighting the urge to do that for the night schedule of Singapore," admitted Chester.

"Fortunately, both locations are relatively straight-forward to work in so there aren’t additional challenges like you have in Monaco for instance. Our set-up crew is well versed at packing-up and building-up the garages and rest of the infrastructure we have, but certainly they have busy few days with the back-to-backs."

Since Singapore, Lotus has confirmed that Pastor Maldonado will be staying with the team for another season - and from a technical point of view this news was warmly welcomed by Chester.

"Pastor is a great person to work with and you always benefit from continuity," he said. "It’s true that for various reasons Pastor’s first two seasons with the team haven’t been the easiest, so we’re looking forward to working with him in what has potential to be a much more settled environment. We’ll certainly be looking to have a stronger season in every regard in 2016."

Currently not yet know is the identity of the driver who will be alongside Maldonado next season, with current team mate Romain Grosjean strongly rumoured to have signed a deal with the new Haas F1 team.

Asked what hew knew about the current status of the second Lotus seat, Chester responded: "We know Romain has made his decision - and we will all know soon."

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