Michael Schumacher takes the Mercedes GP car out for Friday Practice at Suzuka (© activepictures.cz)

// Japan

It's the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, but before we dive into the race preview, let's spare a minute to talk about the latest shakeup in driver movements. As an F1 fan, you may know by now that Hamilton has made the final decision to depart McLaren and join the arms (or is it arrows?) of Mercedes for a three-year contract beginning in 2013. Hamilton has been groomed by McLaren for the last 13 years, one imagines that a decision like this is made with mixed emotions. In the case of Schumacher, to be essentially kicked out of Mercedes, just seems unfortunate for a 7-time WDC.

While McLaren uses Mercedes engines, McLaren has a noticeably faster car than Mercedes and has won more races this season than the factory team. Is this a wise decision from Hamilton and his management team? Can Hamilton shine at Mercedes? More importantly for this weekend's race, will the dynamic of the team change and therefore the performance of Hamilton suffer as a result in Suzuka?

The Championship title is still an open race at the moment, even with Alonso consistently leading with championship points, the 2nd and 3rd drivers on the leaderboard continue to shift between the top drivers. In terms of the track, it so happens that this year is the 50th anniversary of the famous Suzuka circuit. This classic figure-8 format has a great history of races, most notably the controversial drama between Ayrton Senna and Alan Prost in 1989 and 1990, which lead to Prost taking championship title in 1989 and Senna taking championship title in 1990.

With an abundance of low, medium and high speed turns, the track is quite demanding on the tyres for the duration of the this 53-lap race. Pirelli will be supplying this weekend's rubber with Hard and Soft tyres to help the cars conquer the terrains of this circuit. If the teams manage their tyres well, it may even be possible to do get away with one stop!

Even though Schumacher has won six times at this track and will retire and the end of the season, he hasn't really be able to break through this year except for one podium appearance. The fight may well be between Alonso and Vettel, who both have won twice at the track already. Button, Hamilton, Raikkonen all have won previously here as well, and will be brining the fight to Vettel and Alsonso to do their part to change up the championship scoreboard.

Have you made your predictions for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix? Will you be enjoying the race with sushi and sake?

As we await qualifying to begin later tonight, enjoy this Japanese GP Race Guide video, featuring Jenson Button of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, presented by Hilton HHonors.