Toward the end of the Japanese Grand Prix in early October, Marussia driver Jules Bianchi crashed into a recovery truck that was removing Adrian Sutil's Sauber from the circuit. Taken to the Mie Prefectural General Medical Center for care, the Frenchman had been in an artificial coma for the past seven weeks while doctors attended to his severe head injuries.
UPDATE: F1 appears to have successfully blocked video footage of Bianchi's crash from appearing on YouTube, as the footage we previously had available for viewing has been pulled. You can read more about the racing series' efforts to get video providers to expunge images of the accident in our related story here.
Safety in Formula One racing has come a long way over the past few decades, but accidents still do occur. And when they do, we're reminded of the inherent dangers involved in such a fast-paced form of motorsport.
Racing is all about winning. But beyond winning, it's about records: which drivers have won the most races, which team has racked up the most titles, which country has produced the most champions, and so on. As far as Formula One constructors go, the lion's share of those titles belong to Ferrari, which has won more grands prix and championships than any other team in the sport. But Renault has just taken away one of its records.
Japan's Suzuka circuit is a great track that all the drivers love, but it doesn't usually provide the most thrilling, head-to-head racing. Where it does excel, however, is with surprises and "What just happened there?!" moments, and this year it was no different.
Some F1 races have a permanent home while others bounce around, but some have yoyo'ed between two circuits their entire history. The German Grand Prix, for example, has (with few exceptions) been held either at the Nürburgring or Hockenheim. The British Grand Prix alternated between Silverstone and Brands Hatch for decades before the former won out. And in Japan, it's always come down to either Fuji or Suzuka.
Even though the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix wasn't an especially exciting race, it involved "destiny" and resurrection, chanting, and a "nutcase" as some drivers tried to make their impression on the Formula 1 World Championship standings this year, while other tried to make cases for retention to their teams for next year.
If one trend could sum up the 2011 Formula One World Championship so far, it would surely be the domination of Sebastian Vettel. The reigning champion has put up an unsurpassed fight to defend his title, claiming pole position eleven out of fourteen races so far this season, and turning them into nine checkered flags. In fact, Vettel has finished on the podium at every grand prix this season but one, having finished fourth at his home race in Germany.
At the risk of sounding like the end of a cheesy kung-fu movie, the future of the Japanese Grand Prix is safe...for now. After Toyota confirmed it could no longer host the race at its Fuji Speedway, Honda has reportedly stepped up to secure a new deal with Bernie Ecclestone to hold the race at its Suzuka circuit for the next three years. Hiroshi Oshima, president of Honda's Mobilityland division met with Ecclestone in Valencia at the European Grand Prix this past weekend to sign the contract.
Things could hardly have played out worse for Honda. It has poured what surely amounted to billions of dollars for years into its Formula One team with little effect. Then it brought in Ross Brawn, only to withdrew its support from the squad, then it sold the entire operation to Brawn while paying out big bucks to avoid an even bigger severance bill. And only then did Brawn turn the F1 team into a winner. That'd be enough to send some automakers scurrying to get back in the game, but not Honda.
Toyota finances being what they are, the company is ruthlessly assessing its accounts and making cuts anywhere it deems appropriate. The latest head to roll is the Formula 1 race at Fuji Speedway, Toyota's own circuit. Opened in 1965 and host of the Japanese Grand Prix for the first time in 1976, Formula 1 returned to Fuji in 2007 and 2008, and was due again in 2010.
It's been awhile since we touched on Toyota's plans for its upcoming LF-A supercar, the concept of which debuted at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show. Auto Express is reporting the production version will debut as the pace car at next year's Japanese Grand Prix, which is taking place at the Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway for the first time in 30 years. The F1 race takes place at the same time as the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, so we should expect the official debut there. Buyers will still have to wait until ea