Looking ahead to Suzuka

Will Jenson Button announce his retirement in Suzuka? The question will come into focus during the Japanese Grand Prix. As trackside gossip suggests a possible TV future for the popular Briton, who has promised to walk away from F1 if he can’t stay at McLaren.

Lewis Hamilton's race in Singapore ended prematurely as his Mercedes dropped power alarmingly. However, Suzuka is expected to favour Mercedes, which should be happy news for Hamilton.   -  AP

McLaren driver Jenson Button, who has struggled all through the season, is expected to announce his retirement during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.   -  REUTERS

One year on, Jules Bianchi's horrific crash that led to the Marussia driver's death, will be remembered at Suzuka.   -  AP

Red Bull's association with Renault is nearly over. The focus in Japan will be on the Milton Keynes-based outfit and its choice of engine for the next season.   -  AP

The five talking points ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka.

1. Have Mercedes lost their mojo?

So dominant have Mercedes become that one poor weekend in Singapore took the whole paddock by surprise. Whether that was down to the freak loss of a small metal clamp, which ended Lewis Hamilton’s race, or based on something more serious is open to question. While Hamilton has voiced concerns, the Suzuka circuit plays to Mercedes’ strengths much more than Singapore’s street circuit, where Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel dominated last week.

2. Button pushing off?

McLaren’s Jenson Button is widely reported to be about to announce his retirement in Japan, the home country of his wife, Jessica, and Honda, his team’s engine supplier. The 2009 world champion has been in contract renewal negotiations with his long-time employers, who have struggled this season and currently lie ninth in the Constructors’ Standings. Trackside gossip suggests a possible TV future for the popular Briton, who has promised to walk away from F1 if he can’t stay at McLaren.

3. Stalling the engine

Engine-supplier Renault’s impending divorce from long-time partner Red Bull will be in focus, as will the French company’s attempt to buy Lotus and set up a works team. Meanwhile Red Bull are now jockeying to team up with a new engine-maker, with Ferrari considered the best – and perhaps, only – option.

4. Remembering Bianchi

One year on from Jules Bianchi’s crash, commemorations will be in evidence at a sombre edition of the Japanese Grand Prix. Manor, the Frenchman’s former team, have promised to mark the event privately, but expect an outpouring from drivers and fans for the 25-year-old Frenchman, who eventually died from his injuries in July.

5. Track security

Japanese organisers will be keen to avoid the mistakes of Singapore, where a fan was allowed to wander onto the track mid-race and cross right in front of startled race-leader Vettel. A 27-year-old British man has been arrested and charged over the track incursion, a rare and extremely dangerous event in F1.

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