F1 finally returns to Suzuka to compete in its first race since 2019, after two years of absence marked by the Covid-19 pandemic. Formula 1 brought together Japanese fans and their unrivaled passion for discipline and driver customs.
Max Verstappen can be crowned today if he wins the race and sets the fastest lap of the race, which would leave no result conditions for his rivals in the championship. Other scenarios are also possible for the Red Bull driver to win the crown. Note that Verstappen has to score 8 more points than Charles Leclerc and 6 more than Sergio Pérez.
It was the Dutchman who set the fastest time in qualifying, and he started from pole in front of Leclerc, while Carlos Sainz and Pérez shared the second row. Esteban Ocon is an excellent fifth at the start, ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Alpine F1 drivers were on par with Mercedes in qualifying when Fernando Alonso overtook George Russell on the fifth row. Lando Norris qualified ninth ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, and Alpine has a good chance against McLaren.
6:34: The rain began to fall in Suzuka about an hour before the start of the race and, with half an hour to go, it is continuous but light. For the moment nothing indicates that the starting procedure is delayed, while the riders have made their installation laps on the intermediate rubber grid.
6:38 am: Pierre Gasly will start from the pits after some changes have been made to the set-up of his car. The Frenchman had been eliminated in Q1 and AlphaTauri will have taken the opportunity to adapt his car to the rain conditions.
6:41: The cars are on the grid, sheltered by the tents set up by the teams. The rain is still present and shouldn’t go away before departure. The race management has not yet communicated any changes to the program, and conditions may change during the race.
6:48: Red Bull boss Christian Horner confirms rain is expected for the next few hours and teams are unlikely to use slicks in this Japanese Grand Prix race.
6:51: Mario Isola, Pirelli director, explains that the conditions are perfect for the intermediate tires and that the expected rain will not necessarily require changing the wet tires.
6:55: Charles Leclerc’s engineer explains to him that the rain will stay the same for 30 minutes before intensifying.
6:58: The race direction has not communicated a different or specific rain procedure for the start. All the drivers started with intermediate tires.
7:00 am.: This is the start of the training lap. A standing start will happen when splashes of water are important on the track.
Departure : Great start for Leclerc who tries to take the lead but Verstappen remains in the lead! Behind, Pérez overtook Sainz and Ricciardo gained several positions.
Round 1: The battle is bitter between Ocon and Hamilton but the Frenchman resists, and Sainz crashes into the wall after the hairpin, while Albon also stops on the track, just before Sainz’s accident. Gasly returns to the garage with a billboard instead of the front wing! The safety car is deployed.
Round 2: The slow motion shows that Vettel had a good start but was rammed by Alonso at the first start. Meanwhile Sainz returned to the track but fortunately the Spaniard was not impressed. Zhou turned around at the hairpin. On Albon’s side it was a mechanical failure that forced him to retire. And the red flag is unfolded.
7:11: It seems that the accelerating rain is at the origin of the interruption of the race. Gasly was the only one to have tried hard rubber, but he didn’t have time to pay off. The question now is how the race direction will handle conditions, since it won’t be better until nightfall, according to radar.
7:20: Race direction confirms that the red flag is both for the retirement of Sainz’s car, but also because the rain has increased in intensity. He will then communicate a new departure time.
7:34 am: It seems that the reason Pierre Gasly was furious is that he passed in race condition next to a crane on the track after switching wings. The race direction had lined up a red flag but the commissioners did not wait for all the cars to return to the pits to send a crane onto the asphalt. The Frenchman was therefore furious and went to see the race direction.
If you’re wondering why he’s pissed off, here’s why.
Absolutely stunning. Keep in mind the range of visibility. and this is the competition line. pic.twitter.com/xiDO8J8Sl4
– CYMotorsport (@CYMotorsport) October 9, 2022
7:36: The race will resume with an early start at 7:50 French time!
7:40 am: Alex Wurz, president of the GPDA (the association of Grand Prix drivers), is annoyed on Twitter: “We have to discuss this tractor on the track … let’s be brief: it must NOT happen ..”
7:42: The race direction obliges the drivers to use the rain tires for the relaunch.
7:49: One minute from the relaunch, it is finally suspended …
7:51 am: The FIA will assess the situation at 8 am French time.
7:54: The race direction communicates the incident with Gasly, and does not seem to question his decision, nor the times: “The safety car was deployed and the race neutralized. Car 10, which had been damaged and stopped behind the safety car, was traveling at high speed to catch up with the group. As conditions worsened, the red flag. shown before car 10 returned in the accident where it was damaged on the previous lap. “
8:08: The medical car drives to assess the track conditions, but for the moment the race does not resume, while the rain has doubled.
8:19: While the incident between Gasly and the crane continues to cause discussion and indignation in the paddock, there has been no news of a potential revival.
8:23: Gasly was called up by the race marshals for driving too fast in red flag conditions. The FIA therefore seems to be preparing a defense ready not to question the decision to send a crane on the track while a driver is still on the track and out of the group.
08:30 .: The medical car is on the track to re-evaluate the track conditions.