2022 Japan Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: It may not have mattered at Suzuka with the impending sunset, but this three-hour window to run the race really needs to be looked at. As well as race start times, especially in countries where seasonal weather can be an issue.
EVENT: Once again we're flabbergasted at the Japanese fans' dedication through any kind of weather.
TRACK: Suzuka floods easily. It is still hard to pass no matter the conditions. But, we don't want to see it removed from the calendar. Just work on fixing the problems.
QUALIFYING: Verstappen shockingly keeps his pole after nearly killing Lando Norris, Perez can't outdo the Ferraris, Mercedes is off on this track, Tsunoda gives his local fans a brief moment of joy, and Vettel waxes eloquently on Suzuka.
RACE: At least we had a "race" and not a (complete) repeat of Spa 2021. Then, those last few laps were thrilling throughout the field behind Verstappen.
START: Slip sliding away into chaos. Leclerc gets the better start but Verstappen has the bigger balls, Vettel gets bumped into a spin by Alonso, Zhou does a pirouette, Albon has his radiator broken in a smack from Magnussen, and Sainz aquaplanes into the wall.
VERSTAPPEN: The race was 28 laps long, and Max won by nearly 28 seconds. That's a second a lap advantage. Talk about winning your second world championship in style.
PEREZ: His pressure on Leclerc finally paid off.
RED BULL: Now they aim to close out the constructors' title.
LECLERC: Heck of a way to lose the championship on a (well deserved) five-second penalty. Though of course, this loss was inevitable many races ago.
FERRARI: Four races left to figure out how to do better for 2023.
OCON: Fantastic job fighting off Hamilton.
HAMILTON: Though, the lack of power on the straights compared to a Renualt was quite surprising.
VETTEL: Sebastian was awarded in his last race at his favorite track.
ALONSO: One lap earlier for new tires would have given Fernando sixth instead of losing out by .011 seconds. Then, he lost the fastest lap by .001 seconds.
RUSSELL: Starting a new streak -- finishing outside the top five for the second straight race.
LATIFI: Lost in all the chaos was Nicholas scoring points. Yes, he scored points!
SCHUMACHER: Mick actually led a grand prix for about 15 meters.
FIA 1: Just when we forgot about Michael Masi, they go ahead and pull the assinine blunder of putting a crane on the wet track in zero visibility conditions with cars still zooming by, compounded by the dark history of Suzuka.
FIA 2: Let's get this straight. If a race runs half distance and is suspended, only partial points are awarded. If a race resumes and finishes half distance because of the time limitation, full points are awarded. Even stranger, if the race, say, had resumed with five minutes left and ran three green flag laps, it still would have awarded full points. This is how the FIA does math...
FIA 3 And now they got to deal with 2021 cost cap breaches for Red Bull and Aston Martin.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Regulations.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 28 -- The number of laps out of 53 (52.8%) which were run but still somehow was enough to give full points.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: There was a larger gap when the Japanese GP was not held than the two years F1 was forced to skip Japan due to the pandemic (2020-21). After the initial two Japanese GPs in 1976 (the famous season ender where James Hunt won the championship over Niki Lauda while Mario Andretti won the race) and 1977 (when Hunt won the race), both at Fuji, F1 did not return to Japan until 1987 at Suzuka where, except for two years (2007-8) back at Fuji, it's been held ever since. Gerhard Berger won that return race in a Ferrari.
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: F1 journalist Chris Medland putting it best:
Let's make this clear. Should Gasly have been going more slowly? Yes.
Should there have been a tractor on track at that spot in those conditions with a car catching up with the pack? Abso-f***ing-lutely not.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Fernando Alonso's prophetic statement before the race, "This will be eventful!"
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: This is what Sebastian Vettel said about Suzuka, "It is so much more fun around here than at the other circuits. I mean, the cars and the speeds are great -- but at this place, you feel alive."
SCHEDULE: Back to the Western Hemisphere where COTA is celebrating it's 10th anniversary (already?!).
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