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GP Week : Issue 142
GPWEEK OPINION >> the factory acquired MZ’s two-stroke technology, and the company won the first-ever two-stroke world title in 1962 (50cc). Suzuki went on to become a leading light in the invasion of two- strokes all the way to the 500 class. The decision not to return next year was disappointing and long deferred, but not really unexpected. At the end of 2010 Suzuki had cut back to just one rider, but while the only england-based team in MotoGP clung to hopes of an about-face while simultaneously at last finding some competitive performance, others saw imminent withdrawal. There was a lot of dithering on the way. Rival factions within Suzuki meant the argument was unresolved until Dorna set a deadline of last Friday. Against the wall, the Suzuki board said: “No.” Instead, although there has been no official statement, it seems they plan to sit it out for a couple of years, returning in 2014 with a fully developed 1000cc racer, expected to be an in-line four like their street bikes. It’s not the first time it has happened. Through the 1970s Suzuki had become a potent force in the 500 class, not only taking four titles between 1976 and 1982 but also supplying 99 percent of privateers, helping to put a stranglehold on the constructors’ championship from 1976 to 1982. Then honda arrived, and Suzuki pulled out. As now, the english-based team members were left aghast by the news. Then manager Garry Taylor, with key backing from the British Suzuki importer heron, decided to carry on regardless. It was only when the factory had a change of heart and returned in 1987 with a full V4 that the same team re-assumed full official factory status. Meantime Suzuki had continued to compete without a break. history is not likely to repeat itself. Neither the technology nor the business model would allow it. And their departure comes at a crucial time, when the importance of factory teams is under severe threat, as Dorna tries to push MotoGP towards a low-cost production-based future. Suzuki might plan to return in 2014. But will there be the space for them, on a grid full of CRT teams? The Suzuki factory’s withdrawal could prove another nail in the coffin of the factory- bike era. “I am sure Pastor will be in one of them [our cars]. Rubens maybe.” Kimi Raikkonen’s management were soaking up Williams’ hospitality in the Emirate, which adds weight to speculation the Finn will be making his F1 comeback with the once great now struggling British team. Qatari money is said to behind the move. This will be music to young Valtteri Bottas’ ears. The talented GP3 champion is Williams’ reserve driver and I will bet my paddock pass that if his countryman Raikkonen signs for next season he’ll have quit by the halfway point, handing the seat to understudy Bottas. While we would all love to see Kimi backinF1–onhisdaytherewasno one faster – I worry this could be even more anticlimactic than the comeback of that other Ferrari world champion, Michael Schumacher. Back to McCartney (who played a three hour set after the race), Eddie Jordan managed to look a fool when he interviewed the Beatle for the BBC and, signing off, said “thanks George”. At least he didn’t call him Ringo. Asked by German TV if he had a message for their boy Vettel, Sir Paul replied “Let one of the Brits win”. And he duly did. LEWIS GETS A TICKET TO RIDE 21