It’s a cliché for sure, but the 2022 British Grand Prix at Silverstone pretty much had it all. A terrifying first corner crash, an environmental protest, teammates colliding, an intriguing strategy race up front and a last stint which had millions of fans both trackside and in front of the television on their feet. Silverstone supplied enough material to keep highlight reels in business for years to come! With such a wild variety of topics to choose from, choosing the winners of Grand Prix Rejects’ Awards has been difficult.
Environmental protestors wrap up Reject of the Race for a dangerous yet totally inconsequential protest
Protests at Silverstone are nothing new. Almost every Formula 1 fan of a certain age remembers the absolutely bananas incident during the 2003 British Grand Prix, where the certifiably insane priest Neil Horan ran along the Hangar Straight while cars thundered along at nearly 190mph. That incident and the resulting safety car turned an already intriguing Grand Prix into an instant classic. The brains trust that invaded the Wellington Straight on lap 1 didn’t even achieve half of that.
Police had already been tipped off earlier in the week about the possibility of a protest during the Grand Prix weekend, but seemingly nothing had come of it. Then came the race start. Seven people, who had clearly never heard of Tom Pryce scaled the fences, somehow got trackside and sat down on the Wellington Straight, expecting to get their faces and slogans on the world feed. It was all for naught, as Race Control had already displayed the red flag for Zhou Guanyu’s terrifying accident at the start, before cars had even reached the The Loop. To make matters doubly embarrassing for all involved, the group’s protest was attributed to another set of protesters entirely! For such dangerous antics which achieved zero seconds of coverage and no doubt a long stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure, the powers-that-be at Grand Prix Rejects have gone ahead and awarded them Reject of the Race.
Coming down from a superlative 2021, this season has been a right royal slog for AlphaTauri, and Silverstone offered no comfort at all. Both Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda were lucky to continue having being involved in the first corner contretemps, but neither took any advantage of the diminished field. Instead, the drivers decided to give the motorsport world another shining example of the Cardinal Sin, Tsunoda’s clumsy attempt at passing Gasly into the Village complex ending up with both AT03s pointing the wrong way. Tsunoda’s escape from Reject status at Abu Dhabi seemed to have lit a fire under the young Japanese driver as he has clearly outperformed Gasly this season, but two embarrassing races in a row have erased any progress.
To compound the team’s misery, it was revealed post-race that a big chunk of debris from one of their cars cost Max Verstappen what should have been an easy win. The Dutchman had just taken the lead when he slowed dramatically out of Becketts fearing a puncture. Instead, he had hit debris which destroyed the underbody of the Red Bull, making the car all but undriveable. We can imagine Helmut Marko was not best pleased!
Despite Carlos Sainz Jr. finally ditching the winless moniker, it can be easily argued he won in spite of his team’s best efforts. Ferrari are firmly in the battle for both championships, but they’re also making a real tilt at Reject of the Year already this season, and Silverstone was further damning evidence. After Verstappen’s AlphaTauri-assisted demise from the lead battle, it was clear that Charles Leclerc was the faster of the two Ferraris. In a display of non-tactics which would be unthinkable 20 years ago at the Scuderia, Binotto and co dithered for lap after lap about whether to deploy team orders, with every tour needlessly bringing Lewis Hamilton closer to the lead battle in a Mercedes which hadn’t even sniffed a chance of victory all season! Eventually the swap was made, but the chance of an easy 1-2 had diminished, with the seven-time world champion very clearly in the mix for the win.
Worse was to come when Esteban Ocon’s Alpine conked out towards Copse, bringing out a safety car. With plentiful time to execute a double stack and cement a 1-2 finish, Ferrari…chose not to do that. Instead Leclerc stayed out while Sainz changed to new softs, a move which eventually won him the race, despite the pitwall trying to persuade Carlos to stack up the field coming to the restart in order to let Leclerc build a gap, a move the Spaniard quickly put the kibosh on. Stuck on old hard tyres while all his competitors had brand new softs, Leclerc’s chance of a victory and making a severe dent in Verstappen’s points lead was all but over. It begs a once unthinkable question, how much more nonsense will Leclerc take before he thinks about pastures new?
Finally, a word on everyone’s favourite Australian, Daniel Ricciardo. It’s been a tough season so far, and Silverstone plumbed new depths. Ricciardo never looked likely to score points despite the above average attrition rate, trundling around at the wrong end of the field all afternoon. The saddest moment came during the safety car for Ocon’s stricken Alpine, where Daniel was one of only two drivers who was required to unlap themselves. With Lando Norris delivering another decent set of points, it does make us wonder how much longer will Zak Brown and company tolerate this before Ricciardo is handed his P45? At the rate things are going, the Australian might even cost McLaren 4th in the constructors.
Mick Schumacher’s storming drive from 19th to 8th nets him his maiden points finish and Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race!
Mick Schumacher has been no stranger to the GPR Awards, but almost always for the wrong reasons. This time though, we’re glad to feature the young German as our Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race awardee, as he finally scored his maiden points in Formula 1. In doing so, he and Kevin Magnussen secured a welcome return to the points for Haas after several concerning races in a row. It had to be done the hard way though, as poorly timed fast laps in qualifying meant he was starting on the back row. Mick avoided everything that Silverstone threw at the field, and by the time of the last restart the second Haas was running in 8th, and ahead of his experienced team mate!
Indeed, the coverage focused on Schumacher as he hunted down the wounded Red Bull of Verstappen during the final stint, anxious to take P7. Everyone held their breath expecting a repeat of Miami, but while Verstappen rudely chopped off any attempts at passing, Mick maturely avoided any trouble and finally broke the duck. It’s often been said that Schumacher needs at least 1.5 seasons in any race series to get comfortable, and as coincidence would have it, we’re almost at the halfway stage of the 2022 season. Could we be about to see the real Mick Schumacher from now on in?
It’s been a barren season for Nicholas Latifi, but Silverstone offered proof that the Canadian at least has the means to cut it in Formula 1. He was one of the stars of qualifying, timing his fast laps to perfection with the weather to secure an unlikely maiden appearance in Q3. On Sunday points were always going to be a big ask given the weakness of the Williams, but Latifi stayed in the hunt for P10 much much longer than anyone expected, and also finished ahead of a number of drivers. A great effort for the Canadian which sadly went unrewarded.
The final ten-lap dash to the chequered flag also merits discussion, with the field providing some of the best wheel-to-wheel action this decade, particularly the no holds-barred scrap for second between Hamilton, a hobbled Leclerc and a recovering Sergio Perez. Just a few tenths behind were Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris, ready to buy into it. The trio diced at almost every corner in Northamptonshire for several uncompromising laps, two and sometimes even three-wide out of the corners, with Perez eventually getting the upper hand, but with too few laps to chase down Sainz for the win. Leclerc added another moment for the highlights with a simply ridiculous around-the outside pass on Hamilton while on ancient hard tyres, simultaneously showcasing his talent and the considerable grunt of the Ferrari engine. For those watching at home, make no mistake – this wasn’t piped-in crowd noise, that was hundreds of thousands of British fans breaking the sound barrier at what they were witnessing!
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