Final stretch for F1 driver jigsaw

Key pieces carefully come together as the Formula One jigsaw reaches its finish line.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Picture: AFP

SUZUKA - The Formula One driver jigsaw is coming together, but there are still some key pieces to be placed as the season enters the final straight and contracts for 2013 are firmed up.

The 'haves' are the elite, household names like Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, with long-term and lucrative contracts tying them to big budget glamour teams like Mercedes and Ferrari.

The 'have nots' are still talking, still unsure of where they will end up.

Some know they are in demand and are relaxed, others fear being ousted by new faces who may perhaps have more substantial support behind them at a time when smaller teams are hungry for cash.

Champions Red Bull, with Germany's Sebastian Vettel and Australian Mark Webber, have their line-up all sorted, as do McLaren and Mercedes now that Hamilton has decided to switch from the former to the latter.

Hamilton will partner Germany's Nico Rosberg next year while Mexican Sergio Perez moves from Sauber to join Jenson Button at McLaren.

Seven times champion Michael Schumacher will stride off into the sunset after the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix following his retirement announcement at Mercedes on Thursday while Sauber have at least one vacancy to fill.

Those still to be confirmed include 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, Brazilian Felipe Massa and Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado.