Brazilian F1 Grand Prix 2022: The Talking Points

Brazilian Grand Prix 2022 - The Talking Points

For the first time in 2022, Mercedes have been truly competitive with the relative rookie, George Russell claiming his first sprint race/qualifying victory on Saturday and his first Grand Prix victory on Sunday.

In Friday’s qualifying, his off-track excursion left him beached in the gravel after an ill-advised spin turn, which some claim he did on purpose to cause a red flag knowing rain was coming. I’m not in George’s mind, so I don’t know his thought process, but I suspect it was a poor choice, not a deliberate action.

A quick note on Kevin Magnussen, who started the sprint on pole position after setting the fastest time in qualifying before the red flag, the Dane’s first pole as he celebrated his 100th race for HAAS. I think it’s awesome for Kevin to claim a pole position on merit, he was the fastest on track before George had his brain fade moment, without the red flag, he would surely have lost pole, but HAAS and Magnussen were out there at the right time to make it happen, with a little bit of good fortune thanks to Russell.

In the sprint race, Red Bull went the wrong direction on tires choosing the medium tire, while Mercedes went with the soft tires, this allowed Mercedes to make good headway, to finish 1st and 3rd by the time the chequered flag was waved, split by the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, who took a new engine, thus took a five-place grid penalty, creating a Mercedes front row lockout for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

On race day, it was the first time that Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were going wheel to wheel  for position in equally competitive cars, and the inevitable happened, the two drivers collided at turn 1 into turn 2. Which, from where I was sitting, looking at the onboard footage, Lewis did not give Max racing room, Max’s Red Bull was over 2/3rds off the track, with nowhere to go, and he was not going to yield, he is a racing driver, and in my opinion, had earned the right to a car’s width at turn 2.

Sky F1‘s commentators, Martin Brundle and David Croft agreed that it was Lewis’ fault for not giving max any room at the apex, but the stewards had a different view, putting the blame squarely on Max, handing down a five-second time penalty, which was served in Max’s next pitstop. Obviously, I think this was the wrong decision as Lewis was the least affected by the coming together, dropping back to ninth, while Max dropped to the back of the field after he served the penalty and replaced his front wing. If anything, it should have been called as a racing incident, so much for the FIA being in the pocket of Red Bull.

I tweeted that the driver of the day is nothing more than a popularity contest with Hamilton winning the vote for driver of the day. Lewis’ fans defended his DOTD win saying he came back from ninth to second, while George Russell led from pole position. If we are going to say the DOTD is the driver who made up the most places, that’d be Max. coming from last to sixth, or in my opinion, the DOTD was Fernando Alonso, who started in 17th, and finished in fifth, all these drivers beat Lewis’ seven places made up.

Moving onto Max’s comments on the team radio after he took the chequered flag, his race engineer,  Gianpiero Lambiase said “Max, what happened?”, to which Max responded, “I told you already last time you guys, don’t ask that again to me. Okay? Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it”. This was following multiple requests from Lambiase for Max to let teammate Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez pass after failing to overtake Alonso. In response, on team radio, Checo said “Yeah. It shows who he really is”.

On the face of it, these radio messages make Max look like a complete and utter asshole. But, you have to ask, what are the reasons he talks about? We can only speculate, but it has been suggested that Checo deliberately spun at the tunnel entrance in Monaco qualifying while holding a provisional pole position to stop others including Max from improving their lap time. This is all speculation on my part, but maybe behind closed doors, Checo admitted this, which would most definitely give Max good reason to not help out Checo on the track. That said, Checo did play a big part in Max’s first driver’s championship.

Meanwhile, Russell quietly led the race from start to finish, with the exception of a few laps, after he made his pitstops, while the field equalized. Congrats to George on his first Grand Prix win in Formula 1, and congrats to Mercedes on their 1—2, it’s nice to see a third constructor enter the 2022 winner’s circle.

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