‘F1 looked wacky’ – Our verdict on the controversial Japanese GP

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The Japanese Grand Prix may have only produced a 28-lap Grand Prix, but it had no shortage of major talking points.

From Pierre Gasly’s chilling call with a red-flagged recovery vehicle, to parc fermé confusion over whether Max Verstappen had sealed the 2022 F1 title with four races to lose, there were enough considerations and of stories to fulfill several grand prizes.

Our editors give their verdict on a controversial and confusing Japanese GP:

Farce overshadowed Verstappen’s triumph

Scott Mitchell Malm

On what should be Max Verstappen’s day of days, F1 has at times seemed far-fetched.

The truck incident under the safety car was inexcusable. Pierre Gasly should have driven slower. That’s a separate question. If it was 2mph or 200mph he shouldn’t run into a recovery vehicle in those conditions.

Considering that’s the same place we lost Jules Bianchi, it’s a ridiculous risk to have taken. Just because it’s generally okay to do it doesn’t mean it’s done universally and I don’t understand how it was allowed under such horrible conditions – especially in the very place where Sainz had just done hydroplaning and crashing!

And as for how Verstappen was crowned champion, it feels like we’ve all missed something that seems obvious when we’re aware of it. The fact that Verstappen and various teams had no idea that full points would be awarded shows that the rules are not clear enough and no one imagined that would be possible.

It turned the crowning glory of the season into a confusing farce.

F1 was not made for Suzuka in the rain

Mate beer

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Japanese Grand Prix Race Day Suzuka, Japan

From a clock rule that overrides a reduced points rule, to rain tires that need to be used in certain situations but aren’t really good enough to use, to the fundamental issue of on-track recovery vehicles in many heavy spray being a bad idea, F1 just didn’t seem prepared for the rain at Suzuka today.

Time windows and revised point allocations for shorter races are both great ideas. They shouldn’t contradict each other in a way that means a driver could get six points for winning a race permanently stopped on lap six or 25 for winning it if stopped after lap three but restarted for three laps additional.

At least it was realized right after the checkered flag, and not when someone re-read the rules midweek and discovered that the Japanese GP had in fact been worth all the points despite the assumptions (quite logical) from the opposite of everyone else.

F1 cannot afford to continue taking such risks

Glenn Freeman

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Japanese Grand Prix Race Day Suzuka, Japan

The fuss over the awarding of full points and the crowning of Verstappen world champion is inconsequential. Max was always going to win the title at some point. Maybe it’s a shame for him and Red Bull that they didn’t have that moment of euphoria when he crossed the finish line, but that’s okay.

When he one day looks back on what will inevitably be a storied F1 career, he’s not going to have any significant disappointment or regret over those few minutes he didn’t realize he had won his second title. In fact, he already finds it “pretty funny”.

None of this should distract from the serious mismanagement of the race that took place much earlier. There is no excuse for a recovery vehicle appearing on the track after the chaotic opening of the race.

Maybe Gasly needs a reminder of how fast he should drive under the safety car and a red flag – especially when the track is this wet. So be it. The penalty does the work. But Gasly’s actions aren’t the main issue here.

Even at drastically reduced speeds, F1 cars are capable of hydroplaning and losing control. Under these conditions, and with the tragic history of Suzuka in similar circumstances, it is totally unacceptable for a recovery vehicle to be on the track even as the cars are driving behind the safety car, or under a red flag.

Everyone should be back in the pits before the recovery process begins, for the safety of the drivers and marshals.

How many more times will F1 take these risks?

Sky’s response was tone deaf

Josh Suttle

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Japanese Grand Prix Race Day Suzuka, Japan

For those of us watching Sky’s coverage of the Japanese GP, it was disappointing to see their reaction to Gasly’s near-miss with the recovery vehicle.

Without the benefit of social media, you would have been forgiven for thinking you were totally wrong in believing that deploying the recovery vehicle while the drivers were on the track in appalling conditions was a terrible decision.

The focus was firmly on Gasly’s driving under the red flag and although the FIA ​​investigated and punished him for driving too fast, that should not have been the focus of the review.

Regardless of his speed, Gasly was placed in an incredibly dangerous position through no fault of his own and is extremely lucky to emerge unscathed.

According to Sky experts, this was standard procedure – a line similar to that given by the FIA ​​- and there was nothing too untoward with the incident.

It wasn’t until pilots like Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris spoke up – and probably someone at Sky took a look on social media – that the tone finally shifted to something more. critical.

That was not the case for all of Sky’s pundits, with 2009 F1 world champion co-commentator Jenson Button standing out in particular for his alliance with the drivers’ current position.

Individuals are allowed to have different opinions about incidents, but this change rendered his initial dismissal of the incident void.

It was worrying that Sky appeared so tone deaf in its response to the prank, especially when it had no problem criticizing the FIA ​​following the controversial 2021 Belgian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, and considering that he has just extended his exclusive deal with F1 until the end of 2029.

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