October was a busy month for Formula 1, there were 4 races. About Singapore I wrote, 5 days away followed Suzuka – Japan, where although rain is something common, still only 4 races took place in rain conditions… and this was the fifth.
Friday trainings was in mixed conditions (rain/dry), Saturday was dry in the 3rd practice and qualifying session but rain again on Sunday. The starting grid was formed with Verstappen and Leclerc on the front row, followed by Sainz and Perez on the second row. After the start, only one full lap of the circuit was completed, Sainz skidded, entered a guardrail and ricocheted onto the track, blocking the car in the middle of the track. “The truth is that we all decided to take a break at the beginning of the race because the conditions were extreme. It was about aquaplaning because there was a lot of water on the track. I had no visibility at all. I tried to get behind Perez so I could see in the front and found myself in a puddle. I aquaplaned and lost control of the car.
The worst was after that. I was in the middle of the track and the others couldn’t see me. The conditions were extreme. I don’t know how the race will continue because the track and the visibility confuses you a lot. If the pilots don’t see you, all you have to do is pray and let fate decide.” Sainz said, according to Mundo Deportivo.
The race was stopped and for two hours we waited for the rain to subside. With the restart, there were 45 minutes left of the race in the same “wet” conditions, 28 circuit laps were completed at the end of which Verstappen ranked first, followed by teammate Perez and Leclerc. Worth mentioning are the members of the Alpine team who took the 4th and 7th places, and Vettel in the 6th place, he declared that Suzuka, the circuit on which he has 4 victories and the one where he won his second world champion title, remains his favorite. Even if he retires at the end of the year, he would always come back to compete here. At the awards ceremony, Max Verstappen did not know, at first, that he had won the world title. Afterwards, while the Dutchman was giving an interview, the organizers of the event announced that Max was the world champion, the FIA’s decision is somewhat biased considering that 75% of the circuit laps were not covered and still scored normally. Not much would have changed, at least that’s how the world title was awarded to Honda, Red Bull’s engine supplier.
Although 2022 has seen record attendances, Japan fell short of the 300,000 attendance record set in 2006, yet 200,000 fans chose to defy the weather on the grand prix weekend.
Two weeks away, the big circus moved to Austin – Texas for the 19th stage of the championship. Qualifying was dominated by Ferrari blocking the front row while Red Bull put both drivers on the second row and Mercedes on the third row. Unfortunately, Sainz had a slow reaction at the start and was overtaken by the Mercedes drivers who also demonstrated in qualifying that they have a competitive car with a high chance of victory.
Vettel made a nice figure again, although he started from the tenth position, he even managed to lead the peloton for a few laps, he finished the race in 8th place and after Alonso’s penalty, he moved to 7th.
The race was also won by Max Verstappen and thus Red Bull became constructors’ champion. With Lewis Hamilton ranked 2nd and Charles Leclerc 3rd, a fierce battle for the second position in the constructors’ championship can be seen.
Alonso was involved in an accident with future Aston Martin teammate Lance Stroll. The Alpine actually flew a few meters but Fernando managed, incredibly, to recover and continue the race finishing in 7th place before the penalty which relegated him to 15th position. If Vettel was voted ”Driver of the day” then Alpine should be called”Car of the day” for reliability and durability.
The last weekend of October brought Formula 1 home to Perez on the “Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez” circuit in Mexico City, a circuit as beautiful as it is difficult due to the altitude of over 2000 meters. The air is rarer and the engines need special settings to work properly, the Ferraris have the biggest problems due to their small turbine volume, but it won’t be an easy race for either team. Although the champions for both pilots and constructors are already known, the second places for both categories remained in dispute. Leclerc, the occupant of the 2nd place has a point in front of Perez and in constructors Ferrari has a lead of 53 points over Mercedes.
Max set a new record of 14 race wins in a season, Hamilton finished 2nd closing the gap on Ferrari in the constructors’ second place race, and Perez pleased his fans with a 3rd place finish in the race and awarding provisional 2nd place in the championship.
Red Bull officials admitted they may have gone over their 2021 budget and the FIA decided to fine the Austrian team $7 million and a 10% reduction in wind tunnel testing for the following season.
For the next Formula 1 race, it will stay in South America at the “Autódromo José Carlos Pace” in Sao Paulo – Brazil, after which he will end the season in Abu Dhabi on November 20.