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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday
  • Schumacher waves goodbye to F1 for final time
    Schumacher to return to retirement after season
  • Schumacher's retirement speech in full 
  • Hamilton admits Suzuka could be awkward after Mercedes news
  • Whitmarsh to 'protect' Hamilton amid McLaren exit furor
  • Kubica eyes 'track' testing as next step back to F1
  • Mercedes offers Schumacher new non-racing job
  • Renault Sport F1 Preview to the Japanese GP
  • Barrichello: Drivers costing Williams
  • Hulkenberg not carried away by Ferrari rumors
  • Perez: Ferrari never made their intentions clear
  • Schumacher to consider non-driving Mercedes role

Schumacher to return to retirement after season
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher on Thursday announced he will return to retirement at the end of the season.

The news, announced by the seven time world champion at Suzuka ahead of the Japanese grand prix, follows Mercedes' decision to replace him for 2013 with Lewis Hamilton.

Schumacher, 43, had been linked with a move elsewhere, but with his voice creaking with emotion he said in Japan: "I still feel I am capable of competing against the best but the time sometimes comes to say goodbye and this time it might be forever."

Schumacher's retirement speech in full
It is probably not a complete surprise to explain a little bit on how my thoughts are on this. Basically I have decided to retire by the end of the year.

Although I am still able and capable to compete with the best drivers that are around, at some point it is good to say goodbye - and that is what I am doing this season. This time it might even be forever.

During the past month, I was not sure if I still had the motivation and energy which is necessary to go on. It is not my style to do something that I am not 100 per cent feeling for. With today's decision, I feel released from those doubts and in the end my ambition to fight for victories and the pleasure of driving is nourished by competitiveness.

It is without doubt that we did not achieve our goals to develop a world championship fighting car. But it is also very clear that I can still be very happy about my overall achievements in the whole time of my career.

In the past six years I have learned a lot about myself. For example, that you can open yourself without losing focus. That losing can be both more difficult and more instructive than winning. Sometimes I lost sight of this in the early years. But you appreciate to be able to do what you love to do. That you should live your convictions and I was able to do so.

I would obviously like to thank Daimler, Mercedes-Benz, the team, the engineers, and all my mechanics for all the trust that they put in those years in to myself. But I would also like to thank all of my friends, partners and companions who over many years in motor sport supported myself.

But most of all I would like to thank Corinna, and my family for standing always by my side, giving me the freedom to live my conviction and share my joy. That is very special.

I would like now to concentrate until the end of the season for the last races, and enjoy them together with you. Let's have fun.

Thank you.

Hamilton admits Suzuka could be awkward after Mercedes news
(GMM)  Although the uncertainty about his future is now over, Lewis Hamilton admits it could be awkward when he walks into his garage at Suzuka this weekend.

The Japanese grand prix will be the first race in the Briton's six-year career at which other McLaren team members know for sure that Hamilton is departing.

The 2008 world champion has decided to switch to Mercedes for 2013, prompting Hamilton to admit: "It will be interesting walking into the garage (at Suzuka).

"There are a couple of guys who work on my car have been there with me since 2007.

"There are other people who have been in the team since I started and I have great relationships with them, and I have not had a chance to speak to them.

"I told Martin (Whitmarsh) that I wanted to have a big get together in the canteen and speak to the team and answer any questions they may have."

Speaking at Tokyo's Conrad hotel, Hamilton also admitted he is yet to talk to his former boss and mentor Ron Dennis, which suggests that their relationship is broken.

"I did try to get hold of Ron, but I did not manage to speak to him," said Hamilton.

"You will have to ask Ron if he feels that way," he added, when asked if Dennis would be right to feel betrayed after shaping Hamilton's career since boyhood.

Hamilton said he hopes he can leave McLaren after next month's Brazil finale with his relationship with the team intact.

"When I spoke to Martin I said that the plan was not to burn bridges.  There was no unrest with McLaren."

He admits the decision to switch to Mercedes was difficult, with his choice swinging "like a pendulum" in recent weeks.

"It has been very, very stressful," said Hamilton.

"One moment I would think 'let's go for it', the next I would think 'I'm going to stay'.

"It was important to do it on my terms," he said, explaining his long deliberations.

"I wasn't going to be pushed and rushed, although there was a lot of pressure.  I had a couple of deadlines, I didn't meet any one of them."

He said that, ultimately, he made the call to leave McLaren because it is a bigger challenge to build Mercedes into a championship winning team.

"I could have stayed and it would have been easy," he said.  "They (McLaren) are an incredible team.  They have the best facilities by far. The factory is untouchable; they've got everything, really, so in fact they should be winning more."

Hamilton also denied it was a bigger financial offer that persuaded him to leave.

"I had two offers on the table which were very, very similar.  One had slightly fewer (PR) days but it was not about the offer.

"Martin asked me what more they could have done.  I said 'to be honest, Martin, it is about the challenge'.

"I don't know what is going to happen.  I just know that everyone has to experience these things, working with new people and in new environments.

"That is just part of growing up.  It's my last step of independence, I guess."

And the challenge, Hamilton conceded, is trying to emulate the feats of "greats" like Michael Schumacher, who have in the past traded a winning car for a tougher project.

"We haven't really got any other driver in formula one (except Schumacher) who is known for that.  I hope that one day someone can say that about me.

"The way I look at it is that I am walking over that bridge (at McLaren) and down a different path.  If that path brings me back, then who knows?"

Whitmarsh to 'protect' Hamilton amid McLaren exit furor
(GMM)  A new task on Martin Whitmarsh's busy job-list for the rest of 2012 will be to "protect" Lewis Hamilton after the long-time McLaren protege decided to leave the great British team at the end of the season.

"Clearly there will be cause to be distracted in the next days and weeks," McLaren boss Whitmarsh admitted.

He is referring to Hamilton's bombshell news about Mercedes.

Whitmarsh must now ensure the 27-year-old's focus remains on trying to win this year's titles in a McLaren, even though success for the Briton would mean Hamilton takes the coveted 'number 1' to the nose of a different silver car in 2013.

He admitted there will be new distractions around Hamilton as a result for the all-important final six races of his McLaren career.

"We've got to try and protect him from that," said Whitmarsh.

"He's assured me that he's a McLaren man for the rest of this year and that he's going to be completely focused on winning and we are going to try and create as much protection of him and the environment in which he can do that."

Whitmarsh also denied that, despite his championship contention, McLaren might begin to walk away early from Hamilton, including by flowing the bulk of the development items to his teammate Jenson Button, and locking him out of discussions.

"Lewis is a McLaren driver, he will be the recipient of the development items that we have for this year's car," he insisted.

"He will have every single development for instance in Japan and beyond.

"In that regard, he will be involved in the development at the race circuit, although clearly he won't be involved in the development of next year's car," explained Whitmarsh.

Kubica eyes 'track' testing as next step back to F1
(GMM)  Having contested three minor Italian rallies since returning to active competition recently, Robert Kubica has revealed he is now eyeing "the track".

The Pole has not yet driven a single seater since returning to health, because the long-term injuries to his right arm make full movement inside the cockpit currently impossible.

But Kubica, rated as one of the best F1 drivers through his BMW and Renault career until the end of 2010, has admitted he has targeted a return to F1-style circuit running in the near future.

"When I think about the future, I see myself 70 per cent on the track and 30 per cent in rallies," he is quoted by Autosprint magazine.

The 27-year-old announced that he wants to contest a full-time motor racing series "of the highest possible level" in 2013, with a 2014 return to F1 the obvious next target.

But he insisted: "Talking about F1 now is very premature.  I'm pretty much starting from scratch.  Rallies are useful for the adrenaline and the tension, but the track requires more concentration.

"So I want to switch between the two.  I am planning a series of tests on tracks," Kubica revealed.

Mercedes offers Schumacher new non-racing job
(GMM)  Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche has invited Michael Schumacher to stay in the Mercedes family in a non-racing role.

"My personal wish is that he (Schumacher) remains a partner of our enterprise after his active time in the Mercedes cockpit," he is quoted by the Bild am Feiertag newspaper.

Actually, it is believed the seven time world champion - having been told he is being replaced for 2013 by Lewis Hamilton - is weighing up his options elsewhere on next year's grid.

But Mercedes' motor racing president Norbert Haug is also leaving the door open for the 43-year-old to take up a different role.

He and Zetsche have both said it was Mercedes' fault that Schumacher failed to win during his three-year comeback period.

And Haug told SID news agency there is no rift or "tension" in the wake of the Hamilton news.

"He (Schumacher) has assured us that, in light of the long term dimension, he fully understands the commitment with Lewis Hamilton," said Haug.

"There is no tension between Michael and the team and we can absolutely imagine a further cooperation," he added.

Renault Sport F1 Preview to the Japanese GP
After a spectacular Singapore GP, the FIA Formula One World Championship stays in the Far East for the next round of the 20-event series. The ever-popular Japanese Grand Prix takes place this weekend at the Suzuka circuit and will be followed one week later by the Korean race for the second double header after the summer break.

Spa and Monza may have a greater percentage of the lap spent at full throttle, but the combination of corners, the relentless flow through the high speed sections and radial turns, esses and hairpins makes Suzuka one of the toughest challenges of the year for F1 engines.

Japanese Grand Prix facts and figures

Suzuka is above average in terms of power sensitivity, not quite in the top five but not far off. There are long portions of the track where the throttle will be fully open with the engine running at close to maximum revs, for example the 130R corner, a curved straight 1,250m in length that stretches from the exit of turn 14 to the chicane leading onto the pit straight. Drivers will reach nearly 320kph during this section.

The high speed Esses are similar in profile to the Maggotts and Becketts complex at Silverstone; a flowing sequence of interlinking turns that sees the car change direction rapidly at very high speed. This section is also combined with appreciable changes in pitch. The driver will enter turn three, the start of the Esses, at approximately 245kph and carry the speed through until the exit of the complex. Approximately 15secs is spent in fourth or fifth gear during this section.

The high speed changes of direction through the Esses subject the internals of the engine and lubricant systems to high lateral G-forces. The fuel and oil can be squashed to one side of the tank away from the collectors, so engineers must regularly check levels.

As much as Suzuka is famed for high speed corners, the slower sections also require careful preparation. Turn 11, the hairpin, is taken at approximately 65kph and the challenge here is to give the driver the necessary torque response when required. To do this engineers work on the transition from four to eight cylinders, injecting fuel at precisely the right time to meet the torque demand.  If the torque delivery is correct then it can help the driver avoid wheelspin when the grip is low, particularly if the track is wet.

Suzuka is prone to changeable weather, particularly at this point in the year when typhoons can lash the Far East.  Changeable wind directions can play havoc with ratio selection.  A tailwind will result in extended periods at the limiter, a headwind a poor top speed — both could potentially leave the driver as a sitting target down the straights.  Any predicted change in wind direction between qualifying and the race will make this selection even more difficult.

The undulation of the circuit can also affect gear ratio selection. Although it is not a major problem, the acceleration on a stretch of tarmac that is climbing or descending will be quite different. This can affect the timing of the shift lights.

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus F1 Team

There is every type of corner on the Suzuka circuit and getting together a perfect lap is quite tough as you need to be very precise in every single turn, very close to the limit. Getting the correct level of stability into the corners and then engine response out of them really helps so we can concentrate on getting the right lines. It also helps to take advantage of any overtaking opportunity that might appear during the race — there are lots of overtaking opportunities so you need to be ready. Suzuka is a circuit I look forward to going to for these reasons and in 2005 I had one of my best wins there.

Remi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations

Suzuka is a hard track for the chassis and engine teams. The power sensitivity is not higher than say Canada or Valencia, but the variety of corners over the 5.807km lap requires some careful preparation. The first half of the circuit, from the First Curve to Spoon Curve, is flowing so the engine needs to be responsive and smooth throughout the power curve. The second half of the track, from the exit of Spoon to the end of the pit straight, is all about outright power with 90% of this section spent at full throttle. It’s a challenge, particularly as this point in the year when we are going into the back to back races, but one we are looking forward to, especially with the championship at this critical stage.

Barrichello: Drivers costing Williams
Rubens Barrichello reckons Williams would be better off in the standings if they had more experienced drivers instead of Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna.

Although Maldonado claimed a race victory this season for Williams that has proven to be one of only two occasions in which the Venezuelan has finished inside the top ten.

His team-mate Senna has managed the feat seven times, however, his best result has been a P6.

As such Williams are only eighth in the Constructors' Championship with 54 points.

However, Barrichello, who was dropped by Williams at the end of last season, reckons they would have done much better if only the team has two different drivers.

According to Autosport, Barrichello was asked by Brazilian station Radio Jovem Pan how he believes he could have done if he'd been driving for Williams this season.

He responded: "This kind of thought cannot exist, because I am not driving the car and I cannot think what could be or couldn't be with me there.

"But the truth is that the car proved to be very competitive. They [Williams] made a good job with that to put the car many positions ahead on the grid [of where they were last year].

"And it is a shame, because I believe that they should have, at least, double the number of points that they in fact have.

"This happens of course because of the inexperience of the drivers - who are fast, but don't know how to get the chances that the equipment they have in their hands provides them."

Hulkenberg not carried away by Ferrari rumors
Between the Singapore and Japanese Grands Prix, the Formula 1 driver market has been turned on its head. Sergio Perez heads to McLaren whereas Lewis Hamilton will be with Mercedes next year. Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta, previously linked to the silver arrows, are now being lined up as Ferrari candidates.

With Perez having been a Ferrari development driver, McLaren have pulled a coup by signing the 2010 GP2 runner-up. The Italian team now seems likely to either retain Felipe Massa or sign one of the current Force India drivers alongside Fernando Alonso.

“Obviously, as we all know, there’s been quite of a lot of movement over the last week,” Hulkenberg said when questioned by reporters at Suzuka on Thursday. “A lot can happen. Journalists like to put people into various seats but nothing is really certain…I’m just concentrating on my own job here and that’s all I can do for now.

“Nothing has been announced yet – we will just have to wait and see. There are still talks going on with this team (Force India) and there is a chance I will continue to race here, but I think things have happened with all of that movement which went on last week. I don’t follow the driver market situation every day but it was a bit of a surprise to hear what has happened; having said that, it does not affect me right now.”

Finally, the 25-year-old – who debuted with Williams in 2010 – did admit that he would be ready to progress up the grid, should he be presented with an opportunity.

Perez: Ferrari never made their intentions clear
Sergio Perez has revealed that Ferrari never displayed any keen interest in his services for the 2013 Formula 1 season. The Mexican, who is still a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA), has now signed for McLaren as Lewis Hamilton switches to Mercedes.

Although Perez – GP2 runner-up to Pastor Maldonado in 2010 – has impressed with Sauber, having picked up three podium finishes so far this season, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has said that the 22-year-old is not yet experienced enough.

“It was never clear with them, whether they actually wanted me or not,” Perez explained at Suzuka on Thursday. “It was difficult for them to make a decision and I think they’re happy with Felipe (Massa) – he is a good driver who has proven what he can do. I am not a guarantee like Felipe which is why I was never an option and why the opportunity never came. So I am thankful that the team (McLaren) has given me this opportunity and now I want to leave Sauber on a high.”

He went on to explain why he has stayed quiet over recent weeks.

“I didn’t want to give away too much information about my opportunities and options,” Perez continued frankly. “There would have been too many questions about it. I know the shoes of Lewis (Hamilton) are big ones to fill and I’ll just work as hard as possible to give it my best and win the championship with this great team. There’s no other option with McLaren – if you have a car you can win with, you have to win every race.”

Perez is expected to be replaced at Sauber by F1 returnee Jaime Alguersuari.

Schumacher to consider non-driving Mercedes role
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher is not ruling out taking up a non-driving role with Mercedes.

The seven time world champion announced at Suzuka on Thursday that, after a three-year comeback with the German squad, he is once again returning to retirement.

After retiring for the first time after 2006, the great German returned to the paddock as a trackside consultant for Ferrari.

And Mercedes chiefs Dieter Zetsche and Norbert Haug have now offered Schumacher a similar non-driving role for 2013 and beyond.

Schumacher said on Thursday he is not ready to decide what to do next.

"It was the same with my first retirement," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

"Once the season ends, I'm going to ask myself what I want to do with my time.

"There are ways for me to continue to work within the group," Schumacher added.

He dismissed the speculation he could have kept racing with Sauber or Williams.

"I have not thought about it," said the record winner of 91 grands prix, "because I didn't want to do that."

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