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GP Week : Issue 131
It’s harder than it looks GPWEEK OPINION >> The Spanish company didn’t give up, and the event was revived, MotoGP-class only, in 2005: won again by an American for the first two years – Nicky Hayden. Run alongside a national AMA championship, the event was starting to make sense, and to bring in better crowds. Dorna’s persistence has now been rewarded, with an embarrassment of riches. Laguna has just signed up again until 2014. The new Austin, Texas circuit is on the 2013 calendar. And Indianapolis, which joined up only 2008, wants to stay on it as well. Indy has shown its intentions clearly, by the complete resurfacing of the infield circuit, which exists for the sole purpose of the MotoGP race: it is otherwise barely used. Never mind that the resurfacing went just a bit wrong (the same happened a couple of years ago at Laguna), the commitment to MotoGP remains powerful. Indy’s contract expires this year, and the circuit chiefs are locked in talks with Dorna, who hope to arrange Laguna and Indy on back-to-back weekends, to cut travel and shipping costs. Unfortunately, each circuit has its own schedule, and they don’t marry up. The possibility remains of running Indy and Austin back-to-back. In which case there will be three races in the USA, only one less than GP-rich and MotoGP-crazy Spain. For a nation that still doesn’t care that much about MotoGP, it seems like rather a lot. As the Motegi debate nears crunch point, I am increasingly asked if I will be there. I was not scheduled to go, but after the crescendo of hypocrisy from the riders and their cohorts, most of whom owe their fortunes to Japan, my ticket is booked. I don’t need a sticker on my motorcycle to say: “With you, Japan”. team orders in future. On Sunday he finished P2 to Vettel, four seconds behind. “I want to continue racing at the top in Formula One so it's a no-brainer to remain at Red Bull Racing for another year,” the Australian said of the news. I agree it’s the smart move for Mark and the team, to maintain consistency and keep bagging podiums. For Red Bull, there was no obvious replacement: Understudy Daniel Ricciardo is not ready; Felipe Massa is no quicker than Webber; the only faster potentially available drivers are Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Webber’s re-signing will come as a bit of a blow to Lotus Renault GP, which was considering Webber as a possible No.1. However, the team is maintaining its loyalty to Robert Kubica, who is still on the mend. Doctors reported the welcome news that Robert’s final surgery, which was conducted at the weekend on his right elbow, is “a total success” and that the first question the Pole asked when he awoke was ‘what happened in the Belgian GP?’ But there are no guarantees that, by the time winter testing rolls around in January, Kubica will have sufficient movement, strength and sensitivity to drive a grand prix car like he used to. Between now and then, as part of his rehabilitation program, he will spend hours on a simulator like the one I tried. If he’s not able to race next year, there is no longer any viable No.1 left on the market. Petrov continues to impress, but he’s still inexperienced. Nick Heidfeld has been ditched in favour of Bruno Senna, who was phenomenal on Saturday, qualifying seventh. His uncle would have been proud of that, but he’d have winced when Bruno out-braked himself into La Source and effectively threw a points finish away. Bruno should be pleased with his showing overall, though, and is likely to be in the car for the remainder of the season. The other applicant for 2012 is Romain Grosjean, who won the GP2 title at Spa. But either way, we’re looking at the most inexperienced driver pairing on the grid, unless Kubica comes back. With no testing, it’s a challenge for these younger drivers to get up to speed and emulate the wheel-to-wheel skill of the Webbers out there. High-tech simulators in their living room – like at the Casa Alonso – will pay dividends. Three into two won’t go 23