Predictions change quickly in Formula 1 – just as a few weeks ago it seemed that there was a possibility of a two-team fight to the constructors’ title, we have already seen the full return of Red Bull, along with the promise of a three-way fight brought by Mercedes. As Max Verstappen takes a third consecutive win, we at GP Rejects take a look at the rejectful and the infinitely improbable with our latest set of GPR Awards!
In age-old tradition, Ferrari win Reject of the Race while throwing away the championship lead!
Ferrari often receives the ire of this community. In spite of their passion and will to succeed, they more often than not let themselves and their fans down with bonkers strategies, dreadful cars and general incompetence that puts them at an eternal disadvantage to teams like Mercedes, where reliability and perfection are almost guaranteed.
After the Spanish Grand Prix, the Ferrari top brass must have been shaking their heads in disbelief. They no longer lead either championship after their early domination, while the unreliability of their car and an underperforming driver has suddenly left them on the back foot. Charles Leclerc, after dominating at Catalunya, suffered an engine failure a third of the way into the race – a great shame for a driver keen to cement his championship challenge in the face of the growing Red Bull threat. Ferrari had been 1-3 on the grid (the better side of the grid, no less), but their #2 driver (as we can safely call him now) Carlos Sainz Jr. was nowhere to be seen to pick up the pieces. Instead, he claimed to be hit by an errant gust of wind, which threw him off the road at turn 4 and caused him to drop down the order. A recovery drive saw him finish far behind even George Russell in a resurgent Mercedes, and only ahead of Lewis Hamilton, after both Brits suffered overheating issues in the final laps. It was particularly embarrassing for Ferrari: a fourth place and a DNF from the lead, and all while Max Verstappen, who had also binned it at turn 4, won the race while cementing a Red Bull 1-2!
The community was torn as whether to blame the Ferrari team as a whole or just Sainz for these woes. The team itself collectively took the prize, as is tradition. What can be done other than to shake one’s head at a team so woefully incapable of stringing a championship challenge together.
Ferrari’s cataclysmic failure overshadowed many other candidates for the Reject of the Race award. Certain teams, namely Williams and Haas, truly did not bring their A-game to the European rounds. In spite of the former’s pace in the hands of Alex Albon in recent races, the British-Thai driver seemed utterly hopeless on Sunday with no excuse to back it up. His teammate Nicholas Latifi has come under heavy fire for finishing 30+ seconds behind at the very least on occasion, but in Spain the roles were reversed – and when Albon has no pace, the Williams may as well not turn up. An absolutely baffling performance from the team and their lead driver.
The latter team, Haas, has just about binned every bit of potential and goodwill they held going into the 2022 season. Kevin Magnussen, who like Albon is the de facto lead driver of the team, collided with Hamilton on the opening lap and ruined both of their races. In the heat of the moment the Dane claimed that this racing incident had been on purpose, and although both dropped into the pits and half a lap down, Magnussen effectively stayed there for the duration of the race. His teammate, Mick Schumacher, was able to jump up to sixth following a good start and the incident in front. However, due to tyre strategy and the poor race pace of that Haas, he was a sitting duck to powerful DRS overtakes, and the likes of Alpine and Aston Martin overcame him relatively quickly. By the time of race end, any potential debut points would have to wait until next time. The monkey remains firmly attached to Schumacher’s back.
A last to points race sees Fernando Alonso win Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race!
Unlike his former team Ferrari, Fernando Alonso does not usually earn the ire of this community. However, after a clumsy move in Miami, culminating in an alarming scoresheet versus Esteban Ocon after five races, there were many ready to take up the call of “retire old man!”. Alonso repaired some of the damage here in Catalunya: a power unit change resulted in a back row start, but he made use of the Alpine’s decent race pace to jump into the points by race end. It was a recovery drive of course, but there can be merit in recovery drives. Fernando still sits firmly behind his younger team mate in the standings, but performances like this at his home track go a long way towards reducing the pressure on him.
Another recovery drive came from the McLaren team. Lando Norris, again a de facto lead driver to a solidified #2 in Daniel Ricciardo, brought his car home in 8th place while battling a physical illness that would turn out to be tonsillitis. He made it onto the cameras for several main-straight overtakes, and finished ahead of Ricciardo by race end. Embarrassing for the Australian, mightily impressive for the Brit.
|REJECT OF THE RACE||INFINITE IMPROBABILITY DRIVE OF THE RACE|
|Ferrari||16 (76%)||Fernando Alonso||16 (80%)|
|Carlos Sainz Jr.||3 (14%)||Lando Norris||4 (17%)|
|Number of votes: 21||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.