Mark Webber thinks he is turning Japanese as love for Suzuka burns strong

Mark Webber with his adoring fans
Mark Webber with his adoring fans
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Mark Webber says he hopes his love for the people of Japan and the Suzuka Grand Prix will translate into points on Sunday.

The Red Bull ace has had a torrid time since his British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone and has slipped down the pecking order for the drivers’ title.

But he still has hopes of catching leader Fernando Alonso and admits he is relshing Suzuka, despite usually dreading the trip until recently.

“I’ve always loved Suzuka, but I was never a big fan of going to Japan – until 2011,” he said.

“I was absolutely stoked at how the Japanese people received what we did for them after the tsunami. We did a lot of pieces to camera at the Melbourne Grand Prix, giving them our support and the Japanese people really won me over.

“They put nice messages out for us on the parade lap and they were super-genuine in how thankful they were.

“As for the track, Suzuka is an absolute classic. It’s pretty much unchanged from when it was built in 1962 and there’s always a fantastic atmosphere over the race weekend. “It’s a track where you’ve got to be very accurate. The fans are very passionate; they’re all over it and they know things like my date of birth and they give me bizarre gifts,” he added.

Qualifying takes place today (Saturday).