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4 Things We Learned From The Japanese Grand Prix

Formula 1 - Japanese Grand Prix 2022
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The 2022 Japanese Grand Prix featured only 28 laps of racing around the iconic Suzuka track, but there were plenty of talking points. Max Verstappen took home the chequered flag to seal his second F1 world championship title, while there was also controversy surrounding the safety of the drivers in the wet conditions around Suzuka.

4 Things We Learned from the Japanese Grand Prix 2022 F1 Season

1. Max Verstappen is a double world champion


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His underwhelming crowning moment aside, Max Verstappen enjoyed the perfect weekend in Suzuka as he secured his second F1 world title with four races to go in the 2022 season. The Red Bull driver has been head and shoulders above the rest of the paddock in Formula One this year and is deserving of winning a second consecutive championship, becoming only one of 17 drivers in the history of the sport to achieve this feat.

Verstappen has had the best car and the most reliable number two driver in Sergio Perez this season, but the 24-year-old’s dominance has been unparalleled. The Red Bull driver has won 12 races this season, including six of the last seven, and has been virtually flawless, while Mercedes struggled with their porpoising issues, and Ferrari fought a losing battle with reliability and strategy calls.

2. F1 rules prove to be a farce once again


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Max Verstappen was always going to be a double world champion; this was pretty clear since the opening rounds of the 2022 F1 season with Red Bull dominating Ferrari. However, the Dutchman not getting a crowning moment and awkwardly being informed that he won the title in the post-race interview by Jonny Herbert provided another reminder of the farcical nature of F1’s rules.

Verstappen needed an eight-point lead over Leclerc to win the 2022 F1 world title in Suzuka, but with only 28 laps completed, the expectation around the paddock was that reduced points would be on offer at the Japanese Grand Prix. This would mean Max would have the opportunity to claim the title in Austin at the US Grand Prix in two weeks. However, upon reading the fine print, the rules suggested that the reduced points are only given for races that didn’t reach the chequered flag and that Verstappen did clinch the title after winning in Suzuka.  

3. Only luck prevented a tragic incident at Suzuka


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Verstappen and Red Bull not having their euphoric title-winning moment was unfortunate, but the real controversy at Suzuka during the Japanese Grand Prix was the presence of a recovery vehicle on the circuit while the cars were still on track.

Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly narrowly missed the crane that was recovering Carlos Sainz’s stranded Ferrari while driving at over 200 km/h and was enraged in the aftermath, claiming he could have died if he struck it. It was an unacceptable oversight considering that this was the same place where Jules Bianchi met his tragic death eight years ago after colliding with a crane in wet conditions.

Gasly was in the wrong for speeding under the red flag conditions – and was penalised with a 20-second penalty – but the crane should never have been there in the first place, considering the likelihood of aquaplaning and losing control in the treacherous conditions.

4. Quote of the weekend

Following the dangerous situation in Suzuka, many drivers, including Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez, George Russell, and Lando Norris was quick to condemn the FIA over the presence of a recovery vehicle on track.

Sebastian Vettel, one of the drivers on the grid during Bianchi’s incident in 2014, also spoke eloquently post-race on the changes F1 and the FIA need to make.

“There’s a lot of things that led to this circumstance, which we need to understand, said Vettel. First, the entire grid leaves on the wrong tyre, which we are all to blame for but also no one to blame because we are in the same pressure position. We have an intermediate tyre that is a lot faster than an extreme tyre, but the extreme tyre is the tyre for the condition, but it’s so slow you are pressured to go onto the next tyre. That needs to be improved. That would have solved the problem.

“We are not able to race when there is some water on the track because the water drainage is probably not good enough, and we’ve known this for years. One thing leads to another, and we had a crash with Carlos going off. Visibility is close to none when you are inside the car following with the spray.

“We are lucky that nothing happened, but we need to understand and make sure it just must not happen.

“The tractor shouldn’t have been there. The guys that drive the tractor, they get a command, I suppose? A lot of things we need to learn from and understand. Today we were just lucky.

Red Bull and Max Verstappen may have had their crowning moment of the season at Suzuka, but the ugly events of the race ultimately overshadowed what was supposed to be a celebration of success.


[Featured Image Credit: F1]