Suzuka plays host to the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix, but there are some mighty big news stories floating around the paddock this weekend TOM WILKINSON previews the action.
After the bright lights of Singapore, Formula 1 now heads to Japan and the wonderful Suzuka Circuit. Much has happened in the last two weeks, and things are still not quite settled for 2013 just yet.
#F1 News Update: As you have been hearing over the last week or so, Lewis Hamilton has left McLaren and is going to Mercedes for next season. This big news came late last Thursday night and was confirmed the following morning. This completes the Mercedes line-up for next year, Hamilton will partner his good friend Nico Rosberg. The empty seat at McLaren is taken by rising star Sergio Perez. This is a great move by McLaren as Ferrari said he is too inexperienced to drive for them, well now we will see. McLaren have taken this opportunity well, effectively stealing a young Ferrari driver. But it’s a great business venture too, as Sergio is backed financially by one of Mexico’s richest businessmen.
I won’t go on about this as you have been hearing about it all week. However this now turns people’s attention to Ferrari. Will they keep Massa or go for someone else? Ferrari has confirmed they are looking at both Force India drivers as possible replacements. While I have been hearing from my paddock sources that Nico Hulkenberg is very close to a deal with the Scuderia. I was informed that the deal may already be done, and confirmation will come around the Korean GP. Again, time will tell on this one. But my view is Ferrari have nothing to lose by signing Hulkenberg, he is a young and talented driver who would bring home points, and prizes.
This left seven-time champion Michael Schumacher with an uncertain future, but having considered his options, he announced on Wednesday his decision to retire – again!
He was almost forced into the decision, I believe, after Mercedes signed Hamilton. The time has come for Schumacher to call it a day once again after an unsuccessful return to the sport. This is really quite sad as he is clearly capable of winning in my view, he just didn’t have the car. He will play a supporting role for Mercedes in the future alongside Ross Brawn.
The Japanese GP: This is one of the most popular venues in Formula 1 for hosting a race. This figure of eight circuit is a one of a kind in the sport, it’s tough and challenging but incredibly thrilling to drive. Three sectors, each one different and demanding in different ways. This is an extremely technical circuit, a good aero package and mechanical grip is vital around this place. Some changes have been made to the circuit including some re-surfaced areas of the track. Talking to the Medical Car driver Alan Van Der Mewer today, he said the changes have taken away some of the challenging parts of the track, and even said that car placement is not as difficult or critical. The circuit is also much less bumpy than it was before. The drivers will soon adapt to these alterations however.
This weekend sees a possible developing story regarding front wings too. Some teams are suggesting that flexible front wings are making an unwelcome return to the sport. McLaren is one of the teams accused of having flexible wings although the team denies this. The FIA are conducting random tests this weekend to ensure that all cars comply with the 2012 regulations.
The Japanese Grand Prix is always an exciting event for me as it signifies crunch time in the championship. As the sun begins to set on 2012, who will rise to victory in the land of the rising sun? There are some early starts this weekend with lights out on Sunday at 07:00.
You can keep up with all the latest by following me on Twitter @TomWilkinsonF1 #TWF1. I broke the news of Schumacher’s retirement on Wednesday evening before many others knew, so follow me as I’ll be bringing you all the very latest news and commentating live on all the action during the weekend. Don’t miss a thing!!
You can catch our race report right here on wheelworldreview.co.uk