2023 Japan Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: Adrian Newey once famously said, "There is no such thing as the spirit of the regulations. There are only the regulations." What Red Bull did with Sergio Perez was ingenious, even if it felt wrong. Racers live by that dictum since the beginning of the sport. If people don't like it, change the rules.
EVENT: Ever the enthusiasts, the Japanese crowd never stopped cheering their home driver.
TRACK: Suzuka can bite you. As some learned over the weekend.
QUALIFYING: Verstappen and Red Bull are easily back on top, not so much for Perez, McLaren were the only team which pretended to be competitive as Piastri topped that duo, Tsunoda gets a push from his home fans to get to Q3, Alonso barely keeps his season's undefeated Q3 accomplishment, and Stroll and Sargeant continue to regress.
RACE: Another great race ... behind Verstappen.
START: Verstappen has to get aggressive to keep both McLarens at bay, while behind them all kinds of bumping and grinding and flying carbon fiber bits occur, with Zhou, Albon, Perez, and Bottas ending up the worst of it.
VERSTAPPEN: 19.387 second margin of victory. And it probably could have been double that. Wow. Just wow.
PEREZ: Could Sergio possibly have had a worse race? Hit at the start. Replaced front wing. Five second safety car infringement penalty. Ridiculous attempt to pass Magnussen. Another front wing. Another five second penalty for causing a collision. Finally ... mercifully ... a DNF. But wait, there's more. They pull him back from the showers to do two laps of shame to wipe that last penalty off the board. Oh, and a total of four points on his license, which is more than the actual points he scored the past two races.
RED BULL: We can wipe that absurd talk about the technical directive having anything to do with their poor Singapore performance. Last week was an aberration. This week is the norm. And it's the reason they just clinched their sixth constructors championship.
NORRIS: Lance continues to show off his stuff as the car keeps getting better and better. A win before the season is out? Will probably need some bad luck to befall his friend, but it's possible.
PIASTRI: Is it us, or did Oscar appear upset with his first podium finish because he felt it could have been a second? If so, that bodes well for his racing mentality. He's got to be thrilled he escaped Alpine.
MCLAREN: Officially usurped Aston Martin as the best of the rest.
FERRARI: Not necessarily a letdown, as they are probably back to where they should be on most tracks. But, there were still positive signs this weekend.
MERCEDES: Toto Wolff, from afar, must have suffered flashbacks of the Hamilton vs. Rosberg era.
HAMILTON: Mighty aggressive.
RUSSELL: The one stop gamble did not work.
ALONSO: Now that his car is no longer as competitive, Fernando's trademark frustration is starting to come out again.
STROLL: Another useless Lance weekend.
ALPINE: They must feel even more idiotic over how they handled the Piastri contract situation last year.
ALPHATAURI: Again, we don't get it. Nothing against Tsunoda, who has improved and is certainly quick at times. But if you are never going to promote him, why keep him around and not put the two drivers who are promotable on the team?
LAWSON: If Liam isn't on the grid next year, the Red Bull junior driver program is irrevocably broken.
TSUNODA: Yuki had a fun time in his native country.
WILLIAMS: We don't see Williams accepting Lawson for just one year. And there doesn't appear to be any other better option for Sargeant. But they must be wondering how much more crash damage can they put up with?
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Crushing.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 75 -- On the 75th anniversary of Sochiro Honda starting the eponymous company, they power yet again another F1 constructors title.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Honda and Toyota are now fierce rivals, both on and off the track. However, Honda got it's start thanks to Toyota. Sochiro Honda sold the remains of a previous company he was involved with to Toyota for ¥450,000. That was the seed money used to form the Honda Technical Research Institute. Eventually, that company was liquidated and the proceeds used to form Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: From the @autosport account:
Sergio Perez's lap 13 pitstop in the #JapaneseGP was officially clocked at 43 minutes long, the longest stop in #F1 since Valtteri Bottas' infamous 43-hour stop at Monaco in 2021
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Carlos Sainz perfectly encapsulates the cliche, sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug, "They're using my trick against me."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: While Lewis Hamilton thought the whole idea of using DRS to protect the two Mercedes drivers was ludicrous, "I don't think that was a good idea at all. They had obviously thought of it from the last race, and it made no sense."
SCHEDULE: Off to Qatar where Max can clinch the championship in the sprint race.
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