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2022 F1 Round 19: The Japanese Gran Prix

Here we go again gear-heads, it was a wet and wild weekend in Japan and there are so many story lines coming into the weekend so let’s get in to it.





Here’s what to look forward to going into the weekend. With the championship almost in the books for Max and Red Bull, there’s still a dark cloud hanging over this team with the revelation that they were found to be in breach of budget restrictions. This has left a lot of drivers and fans with a sour taste in their mouths, no one bigger than Lewis Hamilton.


Lewis tweeted a sarcastic “congratulations” message to Red Bull after the findings; after the way the championship ended last season he clearly has an axe to grind. On to the track, Max turned in a pole position performance in qualifying in the rain with Charles and Sergio following up. The weather was a problem on Saturday and potentially would be an issue on Sunday. Would the weather be the biggest competitor to the Flying Dutchman and Red Bull or would Max get his second world title in just as many years?


Now let’s get on the big winners.


The Winners:

Max Verstappen:

Mission accomplished for the second season in a row, Max Verstappen is World Driver’s Champion. His class had truly shown out throughout the weekend despite the conditions.

Starting from pole position with a blistering lap on Saturday, he grew into the race and

demonstrated that his race craft was on another level and that with the right car, he would

have no rival. This is the 12th victory of the season with four races to go, I believe there

has to be some record he could get close to if he continues with this form. But for now the

Dutchman won’t worry about that at all, he’s going to savour this during the final tour of his

championship run; Well-deserved Max, Bravo!


Estaban Ocon:

Esteban Ocon had a very good day keeping out the seven-time world champion Lewis

Hamilton from finishing higher in the race today. He does have a win last season in Hungry after that crash and pile up but we don't normally associate him with a defensive performance. So we got to give the guy his do and say what a fantastic performance he had on the day keeping Hamilton out.


Maybe he picked up a thing or two from his departed teammate in Alonso who’s

famously had a feud with the British driver, that’s been well documented. Either way P6 for

Estaban and much needed points for Alpine.


Sebastian Vettel

The love in leading up to the Grand Prix was well-deserved for all the memories that the

German made over his career, so he must have felt a debt of gratitude and repay the

support to the fans with a vintage performance. Although his qualifying had almost got out

unscathed but it wasn’t to be as he slid out on his last run but he was able to get high

enough on the grid for Sunday and had a fantastic battle with Alonso for much of the race

and ultimately lost out on the final lap. But P6 in a string of good finishes meant that Aston

Martin has climbed out of 9th position in the constructors and now is up to 7th. A

massive achievement for a team with massive investment, so kudos to the Stroll family

and Aramco Aston Martin for a job well done.


Nicolas Latifi

I know this season has been rough for Nicholas Latifi but this race allowed him to finally score

some points that he desperately has needed. The Canadian driver finished in ninth securing a

well-deserved two points getting him off of the bottom of the drivers list. It's been a rough season for Latifi but he obviously these point come far too late in the season to keep his job. Next season it’s been decided that Logan Sargent will take his position if he is able to secure his super license driving in the Indy car series. But that shouldn’t take away from the achievement here. It’s a little too late but I am happy for him and hopefully whatever Latifi goes on to do

after this season will be lucrative.


Now gear-heads, off to the losers from the weekend!


The losers:

Ferrari:

This is clearly a day Carlos Sainz would love to forget; on his first lap he slid out and crashed into the barrier. Weather conditions were the culprit but this was obviously the worst possible outcome for the Spaniard. It was all down to Charles at that point and how would he do on a shortened race and a new floor upgrade? He got close but again the tyre degradation on this car just can’t keep up with Red Bull after a few laps. He pitted around the same time most did when the conditions were dry enough which got him closer to Max but he just couldn’t get near him. They finished almost 8 seconds apart and it showed the gulf in class.


LeClerc would have finished P2 for it not the constant pressure of Max’s teammate Sergio Perez forcing Charles out off the track on the final turn going into the chequered flag; a poor ending to an otherwise decent day for the Monegasque driver.


I know Ferrari is second in the table and they have raced beautifully at times but this is just

not good enough for a team with such ambition.


Mercedes:

This is clearly a day that Mercedes would like to forget. George Russell had to start from the pit

lane taking a penalty for his engine replacement so they were just trying to see what they could

pull out of the fire this weekend with him. He was the bellwether when it came to changing from

inter-wet tyres to the slicks; the other teams decided to change when he made his move. It was a

bold move showing they were really trying to get after it. But knowing that they would not get

anything from this race with Russell they did some reckless stuff.


With Lewis it was disappointing because for it not a monster day from Ocon he would have got another top 5 finish. Nothing seemed to work. Clearly conditions didn’t help and he simply couldn’t get around Ocon. Hopefully in Austin in two weeks time this will have been rectified. I think the biggest let down was the opportunity to really make a move on Ferrari and steal that second position in the Constructor’s Championship, they missed a great opportunity.


Formula 1:

From safety standards having this race in those conditions on those tyres was just not OK. Not to

mention the high profile crashes and the second one needing assistance to extract from the track while there were cars still on the track. This was something that infuriated drivers

like Pierre Gasly and I saw on Twitter that Lando Norris tweeted that this was just unacceptable.


If F1 are serious about bringing these new fans into the sport the last thing it needs is for someone to end up dead.



Final Thoughts:

Alright, gear-heads! It's all over in Japan at the Suzuka circuit. It was really hard watch because of the delay due to the weather and then obviously the crashes that caused the red flag and obviously we had a very scary moment with a recovery vehicle extracting and yeah it was quite hard to watch.


The race was only 29 laps and F1 should really figure out how to have these races with better tyres so that we the fans get more quality from these teams.


We saw the expertise of Max in all facets because it's not only that he gets his 12 win of the

season but he had to do it and conditions that were obviously not the best but it shows why he's

going to ease into this championship with very little competition; he is simply the best. Oh this

wasn't without any controversy it wasn't clear that Max had gotten his championship on points until after the penalty to LeCerc was awarded and that meant that there was an awkwardness to the end of the race. This could have been handled better and once it was known he won. It was cringy because they were caught off guard.


Now it’s on to Austin Texas for the United State Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas. Plenty

still to fight for in terms of the rest of positions. Are Red Bull going to seal up their Constructor’s

Championship title?


Check in next week to find out who left track as a winner or loser. Till next time gear-heads!

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