Miami was not all Liberty Media and the sycophantic motorsport press hyped it up to be, that’s for sure. Boasting a living imitation of the old Valencia street circuit, $15 hot dogs, a collection of boats glued to plastic, and an endless stream of vacuous D-list celebrities, it was a perfect mirror of the sport’s great new direction under its current leadership. While on-track, Max Verstappen was able to overhaul the Ferraris in a decent fight for the lead, our community at GP Rejects remains conflicted about the highest highs and the lowest lows at Miami.
After a close-run thing, Mick Schumacher takes Reject of the Race in Miami, throwing away his maiden points finish
Haas, while falling behind a little on pace already by Round 5, are at least actually competitive week in week out this season. However, Kevin Magnussen has been their sole points gathering, and aside from Nicholas Latifi and supersub Nico Hülkenberg, Mick Schumacher remains the only other driver without points in 2022. It’s a shame, as some would argue that Miami was his strongest weekend of the year so far – up until the final few laps.
Haas struggled to escape Q1, and Mick himself ended up 15th and only a place ahead of Magnussen come race day. Luck came their way on Sunday when the Aston Martins fell foul of fuel temperature regulations (a ludicrous 8 degrees off!) in a classic Reject moment. Working forwards throughout the race, both Haas drivers were able to get into the edge of the points, with Mick comfortably ahead of his experienced team, mate However, with at least two points within his grasp, Mick made a double-or-nothing pounce on his compatriot Sebastian Vettel at the start of Lap 53, who had just manoeuvred his Aston Martin past the Haas duo scant seconds earlier.
Mick’s move was never going to work. He simply pointed for the corner, braked too late, and was already too far behind to make such a move stick. A classic “if gap, car. If no gap, car anyway” move, Vettel was effectively blameless, losing crucial points for Aston Martin through no fault of his own. Schumacher ended the race plumb last, and sealed Reject of the Race with a wonderful radio message that offered no apology to Vettel, nor any acceptance of blame. Mick leaves Miami still pointless, and the thought of the German eventually racing for Ferrari as per his legendary father seems to be more of a pipe dream than ever.
Mick’s incident and behaviour merits all the criticism he receives. Another driver with a similar incident, who perhaps deserves even more criticism, was Fernando Alonso. After a strong 2021 comeback, Fernando hasn’t really got his 2022 season into gear yet. Just as Mick did, the former champion lunged into Turn 1 with an ultimately idiotic overtake on the poor Pierre Gasly, damaging the AlphaTauri and copping a post-race time penalty for his troubles. Whereas this collision was less spectacular, it was even less warranted considering that the Spaniard is going for the all-time race start record this season. Such a ill-timed manouver is not fitting of a man in his 19th Formula 1 campaign, and led many of the GPR community channelling their previously anti-Räikkönen sentiment towards the double-world champion instead. Is it time for the phrase “Retire Old Man” to return to Formula 1?
It seems a mainstay of the last few years to have shoddy television direction every other weekend, and Miami was no exception to this trend. Whereas in the old days, local television networks would sacrifice coverage of battles to show local heroes bumbling around on their own in PNowhere, the current year has the paying Formula 1 audience subjected to shots of a nearby motorway and David Beckham’s emotionless reactions to on-track events.
Countless incidents were totally missed by the director again, especially in the closing stages. Even when it was clear that Sergio Perez was not close enough to Carlos Sainz Jr and Charles Leclerc was falling away steadily from Verstappen, the cameras focused on them, almost willing something to happen. Meanwhile, the Norris/Gasly incident was almost missed, as were nearly all of the midfield overtakes that decided the final running order and which partly led to the above incidents. Magnussen and Lance Stroll’s forays into madness likewise saw no attention, and the number of post-race penalties applied only confused our community more, as they were only able to see such incidents multiple days after the race was finished. Just another mark of the top-quality production the city of Miami brings to Formula 1.
The final rejectful culprits this time around were the Alpha Tauri duo of Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda. After a strong showing in recent rounds, Yuki was never in contention at Miami. Trundling around at the back of the field, the Japanese driver was too far behind to take advantage of the midfield. He spent an unforgivably high number of laps in last place, apparently totally unable to make the tyres work. His teammate Gasly was an innocent victim in the Alonso contretempts, but that does not excuse his own clumsiness a few laps later which saw Lando Norris spun around and into the barrier. Gasly had missed the corner, rejoined, and simply weaved into the McLaren – taking lessons from Lance Stroll perhaps in refusing to check his mirrors. Thankfully Norris was unhurt.
Alex Albon again takes Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race after another opportunistic drive for Williams!
It always seems heroic when a driver is able to snatch points in what is clearly the tenth fastest car in terms of pace. George Russell was known as Mr Saturday for his occasional heroics in such machinery, and Alex Albon seems to have taken up the mantle. Unlike many of the drivers in the midfield on Sunday, Alex was sensible enough to keep his car within track limits, not get flustered by the stupidity erupting around him, and used the chaos to nab a single point at the chequered flag, which then became two post-race after Alonso’s various time penalties! As a result, this puts the British-Thai driver ahead of the two-time world champion in the standings, despite the Williams being a much inferior car to the Alpine.
Further to this, it cannot be understated just how much Albon is crushing his teammate this season. Nicholas Latifi was 30 seconds behind his teammate by the time the first pitstops arrived. Albon’s pace is heaping pressure on the Canadian, with rumours of mid-season replacements already milling around the paddock. It also begs the question: just how good is Alex really?
His predecessor George Russell did very well to take advantage of changing conditions – not in the weather, but in tyre strategy and in safety cars. Perhaps he has been luckier than his teammate Lewis Hamilton in that regard so far this year, but Hamilton himself has hardly had an unlucky career. While Hamilton’s qualifying and race pace were simply better, Russell took advantage of starting on the hard tyre, and like Albon keeping out of trouble, to somehow, against all the odds, finish ahead of his teammate come the race finish. It is this ability to beat Hamilton even on a bad day that is putting all the Mercedes eggs in Russell’s basket. He still sits ahead of Sainz in the championship, and considering the pace difference between their cars, that is no mean feat.
The last word today goes to Esteban Ocon. Driving from last place on the grid (after a heavy crash in practice saw no quali time) to 8th after post-race penalties were applied was a strong day in the office for the Frenchman. He too is making his world-champion teammate look rather mortal, and he has started 2022 as Alpine’s lead driver.
|REJECT OF THE RACE||INFINITE IMPROBABILITY DRIVE OF THE RACE|
|Mick Schumacher||8 (35%)||Alex Albon||18 (78%)|
|Fernando Alonso||7 (30%)||George Russell||4 (17%)|
|TV Direction||7 (30%)||Esteban Ocon||1 (4%)|
|Pierre Gasly & Yuki Tsunoda||1 (4%)|
|Number of votes: 23||Number of votes: 23|
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.