With a surprisingly dominant win from Sergio Perez, even the unexpected seems somewhat familiar in 2022. While Max Verstappen’s chance of eclipsing Sebastian Vettel’s winning streak record came to a scruffy end around the streets of Singapore, Charles Leclerc did enough to keep the championship even theoretically alive into another race. While we think of the rain and the slowness of everything at that Singaporean Grand Prix, let’s focus on our main contenders for rejectdom.
Mercedes, and particularly George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, earn a joint Reject of the Race award for their crashing and bashing all weekend
For all their harping on about their tragic pace and the “worst car I’ve ever driven”, Mercedes and its drivers are still a fantastic package which have challenged for race wins on more than one occasion this year. Perhaps their real pace disadvantage has been flattered by a good pair of drivers, a car built like a brick shithouse, perfect strategy and excellent pitstops, but it is a team effort that has got them to the very strong third position they find themselves in today.
However, in Singapore we saw what could happen if the team and drivers weren’t up to snuff. George Russell firstly was demoted in Q2 by Kevin Magnussen in an a Haas, which was the first warning sign. When the rain came down and slowed the pace down heavily, the team and Russell decided to pit far too early for slicks, causing him to spend a vast portion of the race in dead last. Elsewhere he bumped into Bottas, and simply drove straight into Mick Schumacher when attempting to overtake the German. Bad gambles, poor pace and repeated accidents were topped off with a sense of arrogance that has magically appeared the moment George put on Mercedes overalls. By refusing to take the blame for any accidents which he so clearly is the main cause of, he seems to be strangely pre-empting his stardom by taking on Hamilton’s famously ruthless attitude to his on-track driving. But without the results to back it up, and after spending most of a race at the back while in a Mercedes, it just makes young George look like a fool.
Speaking of Hamilton, the seven-time world champion again lost a likely podium chance at the Marina Bay Circuit when he drove head-on into the wall. Whereas Sebastian Vettel and others chose the escape road, Lewis stuck to the corner and paid the price heavily. It was just part of a grander Mercedes screw-up that ruined both drivers’ chances at results, and perhaps showed the audience what the team would regularly look like with a less talented crew in charge. Their collective mistakes earn Mercedes Reject of the Race in Singapore.
Some people can forgive mistakes made under changing conditions, under even higher stress than normal, and at such a demanding track. What people can forgive less easily is when the cars can’t even make the race distance of their own accord. Step in Alpine, who took the Singapore Grand Prix as an opportunity to squander the lead they had managed to excellently take over McLaren for fourth in the constructors’ standings, by having both Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon’s engines fail mid-way through the race. Of course, this just had to come at a moment when McLaren completely capitalised from the changing weather and took 22 points home. What else can one say? In this day and age of hyper-reliability, we can’t help but giggle when both team cars break down within a few minutes of each other with the same problem. It’s just like the good old days! Bonus points for Ocon’s engine providing us with a proper old-school turbo blow-up.
Nicholas Latifi got a bad rap, and even the Reject of the Race award last time out in Italy. He didn’t do himself many further favours at Marina Bay, when he made one of the most egregious turn-ins seen since Miami. Apparently driving a car that devoid of mirrors, the Canadian smashed Zhou Guanyu so hard into the wall that the Chinese driver had to retire on the spot from the event, while also terminally damaging his Williams. While unlike Russell, Nicholas apologised profusely and immediately for his mistake, we still got a solid example of why he is in the sport for his money, and not for his talent.
Lastly, Race Control deserves a mention – because what race report would be complete without mentioning them? With Sergio Perez’s late-race shenanigans behind the safety car, the stewards decided in their infinite wisdom to delay the results of their investigation until after the race, when both drivers involved were directly fighting for the win. In hindsight, the penalty was meaningless, and perhaps it was intentionally so. However, it really doesn’t do to have races end where nobody knows the winner!
McLaren and Aston Martin jointly win IIDOTR with equally improbably brilliant results at Singapore
It had seemed after the summer that McLaren, despite feeling somewhat rejuvenated in form over the early- to mid-season, was again falling back as development has continued. Alpine has been more consistent, with even a 41-year-old about to walk out the exit door putting in great drives every other weekend, while McLaren’s opportunities have been fewer, and not helped by seemingly having one competitive driver and a sandbag as their line-up.
Therefore, for the team to challenge for a possible podium and to take advantage of Hamilton’s crash, was great news. Fourth and fifth was a result of pure professionalism and keeping out of trouble. Often, that’s all it takes to score a good result. The point has been made about how the team’s result has put them back in contention with Alpine almost immediately, and has given a glimmer of hope about how the competition might continue to the end of the season – but credit has to be given to Daniel Ricciardo, who is still without a seat for 2023, and who put in perhaps his best drive of this season to score a decent result for once.
Aston Martin are a few places further down the order, but equally take Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race. Previously sitting in second-last on the table, and with their star driver unmotivated and ready for retirement, they took home 12 points! Lance Stroll especially qualified well, and took a top six in a car that really has no right to be there. Vettel brilliantly held up an embarrassed Hamilton for a grand series of laps, and now the team has jumped ahead of Haas and AlphaTauri! Both rivals have a chance to take the place back, but the result has put Aston Martin back on the map where they previously were hopelessly invisible for this year. With AlphaTauri lurching from disaster to catastrophe, Haas being Haas, and Alfa sliding down the field with every race, 6th in the constructors is now a realistic prospect for the green team, and who would’ve thought that was possible after their early season travails?
|REJECT OF THE RACE||INFINITE IMPROBABILITY DRIVE OF THE RACE|
|Mercedes||7 (39%)||McLaren and Aston Martin||8 (42%)|
|Alpine||6 (33%)||Daniel Ricciardo||6 (32%)|
|Nicholas Latifi||5 (28%)||Lance Stroll||4 (21%)|
|Sergio Perez||1 (5%)|
|Number of votes: 18||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
2022 Dutch Grand Prix
2022 Italian Grand Prix