For the second year in a row, Max Verstappen sailed to victory in front of his home crowd at Zandvoort. This year’s performance was quite a bit more ominous in its shades of Sebastian Vettel in 2013, and a late-season romp appears all but inevitable for the time being. Let’s look, however, at all the exciting parts of the race, specifically the parts that helped get him there.
AlphaTauri and Yuki Tsunoda jointly win a quite clear-cut Reject of the Race for their end-of-race showstopper (of sorts)
There is something about the great reject moments in the Formula 1 career of Yuki Tsunoda that just demand lavish coverage. As in Canada, his performance at Zandvoort left no other candidate within earshot of him to be crowned Reject of the Race. The initial setup – his quick trackside stop for fear of having the tyres wrongly fitted – was sensible and hurried, but incorrect in the grand scheme of things. Nobody wants a repeat of Fernando Alonso’s problem at the Hungaroring in 2009.
After a string of back-and-forth between himself and his engineer, while the rest of the world watched the slow-motion replays, it was found that Tsunoda was fine and had been overly cautious. After being encouraged to get going again, he had his seatbelts refitted after he had loosened them, and a new pair of tyres, and it was all go again.
Yet, the drama wasn’t over. Seconds later at the very same set of turns, Yuki complained again that the car was failing under him, and this time the team told him to park it. It was an absolute embarrassment for the Japanese driver. As with the best winners of this award, there was a cherry on top of the sundae; the main benefactor of Tsunoda’s retirement and consequential virtual safety car was none other than Max Verstappen in the sister Red Bull squad, who had been, albeit briefly, challenged by Mercedes on tyre strategy. As a result, the conspiracy theorists went nuts and blamed AlphaTauri for fixing the race in the home hero’s favour. Crazy: who do they think Yuki is, Nicholas Latifi?
Race Control, as usual, hardly covered themselves in glory either with their own reactions to such actions. Tsunoda was not only allowed to continue racing with a loosened seatbelt, but their response time to setting out a safety car was at least a minute when Valtteri Bottas ground to a halt at the end of the front straight, with the Alfa stricken at the fastest part of Zandvoort. Unsurprisingly the F1 fanbase were not amused at such cavalier attitudes to safety.
The record books will show Daniel Ricciardo took part in the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix, but he certainly wasn’t competing in it, such was the shocking performance he produced. There is little to say about the Australian’s time at McLaren that has not already been said better at earlier times, but for him to convert a Q1 exit in P17 to a penultimate and P17 finish in the race was extraordinary. As the team look to recover an ever-sliding deficit to Alpine for fourth in the standings, their race-winning driver seems to be the only culprit at this point holding them back. One wonders, after a few mental maths calculations, whether buying Daniel out of his contract and putting Oscar Piastri in the car might actually be profitable. Certainly, the difference in prize money between 4th and 5th in the constructors might be the catalyst…
Those honourable mentions, almost out of memory but still worth bringing up, include Sebastian Vettel, whose own Q1 exit was followed by one of the worst pit exits on Sunday seen since Nikita Mazepin graced us with his presence. Blocking Lewis Hamilton in a dice with Sergio Perez, he nearly changed the complexion of the race completely with a lack of spatial awareness more befitting, surely, of his teammate. Hamilton himself did not cover himself in a huge amount of glory by throwing the Mercedes strategy team under the bus for a mistake that was at the very least equally responsible to himself. It might be unfair to say that he has lost his touch on restarts, but when considering how he has performed at the most recent (and famous ones), it’s not too much of a stretch.
Fernando Alonso wins Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race for another spirited drive, this time on a difficult circuit to pass
On the other end of things, a rather dull affair of a race saw only two real candidates for great and unexpected performances. Fernando Alonso has really taken the adage of only being as good as one’s last race to the nth degree. Dismissed at the beginning of the season as being in “retire old man” mode, he recorded his tenth consecutive points finish at Zandvoort, and on a race where overtaking can be very tricky in the midfield. He pushed through ahead of his closely-matched teammate, and after his great run of finishes, now challenges Esteban Ocon – who has at least another two seasons signed up already at Alpine – in the overall standings. Not bad for an old man.
Lance Stroll showed rarely consistent pace at the Dutch Grand Prix. While Vettel’s pit exit saw the four-time world champion slapped with a penalty for ignoring blue flags, his Canadian teammate followed Ricciardo’s method of maintaining grid position throughout the race, albeit in a positive fashion this time. With solid pace all weekend, he took the final points position in a car that won’t go down in the history books for any positive reasons. Not infinitely improbable, but at the very least quite so.
|REJECT OF THE RACE||INFINITE IMPROBABILITY DRIVE OF THE RACE|
|AlphaTauri & Yuki Tsunoda||21 (100%)||Fernando Alonso||9 (47%)|
|Lance Stroll||7 (37%)|
|Number of votes: 21||Number of votes: 19|
Disclaimer: The ROTR and IIDOTR awards are purely for fun purposes.
The IIDOTR is a democratically-decided award, based on the assumption that, at any moment in time, there is a non-zero probability that even the slowest, most inexperienced and least reliable of underdogs might win the race. That under every rock, there might be a gold nugget. This is the award for that first podium that we all celebrate, for the overtake no-one was expecting, for the underdog’s first win. This is the award, in short, for the driver or team that makes you go “Woah! Where did THAT come from?!”.
The ROTR is a medal of dishonour that celebrates the most noteworthy failure of a Grand Prix weekend, based on expectations heading into the weekend and general performance. That one brainfade, the silliest mistake or the most patent nonsense going on, all that is what being the ROTR is all about.
2022 Grand Prix Rejects Awards
2022 Bahrain Grand Prix
2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
2022 Australian Grand Prix
2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix
2022 Miami Grand Prix
2022 Spanish Grand Prix
2022 Monaco Grand Prix
2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
2022 Canadian Grand Prix
2022 British Grand Prix
2022 Austrian Grand Prix
2022 French Grand Prix
2022 Hungarian Grand Prix
2022 Belgian Grand Prix
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