Most of the Italian Grand Prix was taken up by two areas of discussion: that of the ending of the race behind the safety car, and that of the glorious debut of one Nyck de Vries. While the Netherlands celebrate their first duo since the legendary Robert Doornbos raced alongside the gargantuan Christijan Albers, we at GP Rejects shall look at those who did not leave the Monza circuit as contended perhaps as Max Verstappen was.
Nicholas Latifi, failing miserably in his ultimate final test, earns a comfortable Reject of the Race award at Monza
While it was a euphoric day for Nyck de Vries, a driver who was ensconced in junior series close to a decade ago and who only now has made his way to Formula 1 after a very around the houses trip, it was a dreadful day for his temporary teammate, the pointless Nicholas Latifi. Ever since the disappearance of Nikita Mazepin, Formula 1 fandom’s gaze has drawn its attention closer and closer to the Canadian as being the weakest of the bunch. Alexander Albon’s promotion to the team drew in ever stronger light the disparity of ability behind the wheel, and Nyck de Vries’ supersub placement put it under a red-hot magnifying glass.
After all, Nyck only had a few sessions to get himself completely acclimatised with the Williams before both outqualifying his teammate by a small margin, then outracing him by a giant margin. How much it says about the easiness of the Williams, the ability of Alex Albon (who has had a serious case of appendicitis), or a case of luck at a track that suited the team, there was no questioning at all that Latifi’s time in F1 is swiftly drawing to a close. As this silly season drags on, and as even the most uninspiring candidates are appearing in line for 2023 seats, it is hard to see (outside of further boatloads of Latifi family cash) why Williams would continue to hire him.
Maybe it was just a one-off, and maybe circumstances were simply unfortunate for the Canadian, but Latifi plummeted down the order almost immediately from race start, never to be seen again. It was symbolic of his campaign for Reject of the Year, that he should remain pointless while a temporary teammate scores on their debut.
Aston Martin takes joint second-place for a much duller reason, and that being their double retirement at Monza. In an age where this is a rare achievement as much as a Ferrari 1-2 is, it is right that the AM team should bear at least some of the brunt of our community’s ire. After all, there was no particular excuse for their slowness: the Mercedes engine seems good enough, and it’s developing at a faster rate than Ferrari’s, certainly; neither Sebastian Vettel nor Lance Stroll suffered any grid penalties, which gave them an advantage on the starting grid at least.
On Sunday, however, they were slow all race – at least, all the race in which they participated. Soon enough, both were out, with Vettel triggering a virtual safety car and Stroll kindly pulling into the pits. And that’s about all there is to say about Aston Martin.
Speaking of qualifying, however, the Monza Saturday brought back wonderful memories of the some of the stranger sessions of the modern era. In the past we’ve had excessive red-flag stoppages, and even at this very track we had the timing disaster in Q3 that meant half the drivers weren’t fast enough to get their out-lap done in time. This session took us back to the late 2000s and early 2010s, where grid penalties were rife, and nobody knew Sunday’s order until well after Saturday. By diluting qualifying into a confusing mess, it removed almost any value from watching the session, what with 11 different drivers copping penalties that would move them somewhere down or around the order. When even the F1 journalists covering this stuff have no idea who is prioritised and who is not; whose penalty goes before whose; there is a problem.
Nyck de Vries takes his maiden Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race award in his debut race!
The positives from Italy were quite clear: Nyck de Vries can drive a Formula 1 car and he can do it well. With almost no practice outside of Saturday morning, he put his car ahead of Latifi, and kept it in the back end of the points for almost the entire race. It was a top performance at a track where Williams could shine, and indeed he made it shine. He trounced his teammate on Sunday, and that’s where it counts the most. In Formula 1, a driver is only as good as their teammate, and one wonders at a de Vries / Albon line-up next year, and just who would come out on top.
Zhou Guanyu had a positive weekend that got greatly overshadowed by the two Dutchmen on the grid. His tenth place was well fought for, and, like de Vries, completely trounced his teammate. Valtteri Bottas had a shoddy weekend all things considered, and his early-season spark appears to be fading. Zhou did the job and took Alfa Romeo’s first points since so long that nobody even remembers anymore. With the parent team pulling out, one wonders as to its direction in the coming races. With this type of progress following the summer break, let’s just hope they’re already focussing on 2023.
|REJECT OF THE RACE||INFINITE IMPROBABILITY DRIVE OF THE RACE|
|Nicholas Latifi||14 (64%)||Nyck de Vries||20 (95%)|
|Aston Martin||4 (18%)||Zhou Guanyu||1 (5%)|
|Qualifying penalties||4 (18%)|
|Number of votes: 22||Number of votes: 21|
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
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2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix
2022 Miami Grand Prix
2022 Spanish Grand Prix
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