The Hungarian Grand Prix was a bizarre start to the summer break of 2022, with Max Verstappen following his mentor Nigel Mansell by spinning and winning for the second time this year. We had George Russell, known as Mr. Saturday at Williams, taking his first ever pole in the sport in a Mercedes which, in spite of its ever threatening presence, is surely not as quick as all that. However, the third party begins our discussion of the most rejectful things that took place in Hungary.
Ferrari, for a blunder of monumental proportions, again wins Reject of the Race this year!
It certainly feels like déjà vu. Those of us who have watched Formula 1 for years and decades know full well that Ferrari, in spite of their excellent funds and raw pace, shoot themselves in the foot more often than not. In the old days their cars were delicate and impossible to tame; in the modern era, it seems that it is the pit-wall who are unable to take a brilliant car to a win, even when one stares them in the face.
Going into the race with a lucky Mercedes on pole, Ferrari were in a great position to consolidate some points against Red Bull, when issues for Verstappen dropped him out in Q3. With both the championship leader and teammate Sergio Perez half the grid behind them, Ferrari proceeded to drop the ball yet again, even when it seemed that all the factors were in their favour.
At the halfway mark, as Verstappen tried to undercut them, the Ferrari pit-wall chose to keep Charles Leclerc on hard tyres, when everyone and their grandmother could see that they were failing the Haases and Aplines dreadfully in the early stages of the grand prix. It allowed Ferrari, with all the advantages they had, to allow both Mercedes onto the podium and ahead of them, while the successful undercut by Verstappen saw the Dutchman sail into the distance at a track known for being notoriously hard to pass on! With Max spinning and winning, the margin between Ferrari and those in front of them was astonishing – that, even with everything apparently in their favour, they could throw away such a result so openly and publicly. Even Martin Brundle, the greatest bulwark of modern status quo and colourless comment, was gobsmacked about Leclerc’s stint on the hards.
Pirelli had recommended against it, Haas and Alpine had suffered for it, yet still Ferrari chose the alternative, worse strategy that cost their drivers the podium on Sunday. Sainz was kept on softs for far too long, until his pace dropped him too behind the team’s chief rivals. The team have gone into the summer break as clear candidates for Reject of the Mid-Season.
And on the subject of déjà vu, Daniel Ricciardo’s pace doesn’t seem to have improved from his dire showing here last year. He converted a 9th place on the grid to a lowly 15th after locking up and punting Lance Stroll, and was never seen again for the duration of the grand prix. Memories of his exit from the cockpit last year, and the knowledge of how little at all he has improved his pace since then, makes the Australian’s current predicament very depressing indeed – especially when considering the current pandemonium of the silly season, and the possible imminent loss of his McLaren seat.
While Ferrari took all the limelight in the public eye, Yuki Tsunoda had a similarly dire weekend: spinning just like Verstappen, but as anonymous as a Williams. His teammate Pierre Gasly had started the race from the pitlane and still managed brought it home seven places and a lap ahead of the Japanese driver. An early season boost seems to be fizzling out, especially as AlphaTauri themselves have lost that early magic. At least, unlike Ricciardo, Yuki doesn’t seem to have anyone testing out his seat, for the time being…
Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race goes to the least infinitely improbable candidate ever: Mercedes!
Somewhere out there Jenoch have shuddered, for Mercedes, eight-time consecutive constructors champions in Formula 1, current defending champions and possessors of at least the third fastest car on the grid, have won this award in Hungary, after a shock pole and double podium. At the expense of Ferrari’s blunders, Mercedes’ invincible chassis has taken their stars to serious win contention on more than one occasion now this year. With some early fluctuations, it’s looking like that juggernaut is gaining pace, momentum, and threatens to start winning very soon after the summer break. With the aforementioned George Russell on pole, Merc have been consistently able to take advantage of Ferrari’s blunders and Red Bull’s reliability to take point after point after point. While their perfection may not be infinitely improbable, the fact that they might steal second in the constructors’ championship is!
Verstappen, the spinner and winner, was the second candidate for this award. The defending champion and current championship leader was plagued by an issue in Q3, but made up for it in the race by winning from 10th in occasionally nerve-wracking conditions. His spin was the only blemish on a fantastic Sunday on a track that does not usually reward overtaking. Perhaps it is the new rules we should be thankful for?
Aston Martin were another team to improve on Sunday. Their drivers had great pace, and with Sebastian Vettel announcing his retirement by year-end, there was a serious degree of optimism in the garage. Again, there was one blemish, and that was Stroll being taken out by Ricciardo briefly. One point was all that was awarded, but somehow the promise of pace puts the floundering team in the unlikely position of challenging AlphaTauri in the standings.
|REJECT OF THE RACE||INFINITE IMPROBABILITY DRIVE OF THE RACE|
|Ferrari||17 (85%)||Mercedes||8 (40%)|
|Daniel Ricciardo||2 (10%)||Max Verstappen||7 (35%)|
|Yuki Tsunoda||1 (5%)||Aston Martin||3 (15%)|
|Number of votes: 20||Number of votes: 20|
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