The 2022 US GP was a fan-favourite race, with many memorable moments and exciting battles. The race weekend was entertaining all-round for fans. In fact, the United States Grand Prix was the most attended race of 2022. There was an attendance of 440,000 fans over the course of the weekend. Considering that this season has had many races with more attendance than ever before, the fact that the US GP had more attendance than all of those really makes a statement. This is representative of the continuous growth of motorsports and especially Formula 1 in the US. It’s a market that F1 has been desperate to break into, and so far they’ve been quite successful. Having 3 races in the US next year certainly helps, with Miami, Las Vegas, and Austin!
The 2022 US GP is all the more memorable, because Red Bull are now 5-time World Constructors’ Champions! For the first time since 2013, Red Bull clinched the title! It was highly likely that this would happen in the US, but Ferrari were absolutely nowhere nearing stopping the charging bulls. Max Verstappen came home to win the race after starting 2nd. He clinched the 13th win of the season, equalling the record for most wins in a single season. That record is now jointly held by Schumacher, Vettel, and Verstappen. The Schumi and Vettel fan in me hopes that the record is never broken, but with 3 races remaining and that insane form, it looks like Verstappen will break the record.
In this race review, I’m going to look at a few major parts of the race. First of all, Sainz’s incident at Turn 1 that ruled him out of the race. Since Leclerc had a grid penalty, it was up to Sainz to try and keep Ferrari’s championship hopes alive. Unfortunately, George Russell came in the way of that. I will also look at Vettel’s performance that brought back many memories. And lastly, I will look at Stroll and Alonso’s crash, and the penalties that followed.
Sainz in Spain Without the S
The world was ready to witness a strong race from Carlos Sainz as he lined up on pole position for the 2022 US GP. Pole position hasn’t historically been a good spot to start from – in 2021, Hamilton overtook polesitter Verstappen into Turn 1. The same happened in 2018 and 2019, which is why it was of utmost importance for Sainz to get a strong start. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Verstappen, who started in P2 thanks to the grid penalty that Leclerc had, got Sainz into Turn 1. If Sainz could’ve continued and maintained P2, it still would’ve been a good result for him. Hamilton also got close to overtaking Sainz into Turn 1, but it was the other Mercedes that made a move. George Russell locked up into Turn 1, and spun Sainz around.
George Russell continued with a damaged car, but Carlos Sainz came into the pits at the end of Lap 1 to retire from the race because of the damage obtained. Russell came into the corner way too hot because he braked too late. Sainz wasn’t at fault at all, because he was just taking the racing line. That’s why the stewards penalized Russell with a 5-second time penalty and 2 penalty points. Was 5 seconds enough for a mistake that forced Sainz to retire? Well, the FIA have emphasized that when providing penalties, the Stewards don’t take into consideration the consequences of the incident, but the incident itself. On those grounds, the penalty is justified.
However, that still doesn’t change how heartbreaking the incident was. For the first time since the 2022 British GP, Sainz had a chance to win a race. In Britain, he took the win from pole position, and many hoped he would do the same in the USA. It was a golden opportunity for Sainz to clinch a win and potentially delay Red Bull’s championship win, although the latter seemed quite unlikely. Along with many other F1 fans, I was greatly disappointed that I couldn’t witness Sainz battle it out for the win at the 2022 US GP.
A Glimpse of The Real Sebastian Vettel
The 2022 US GP provided plenty of nostalgia. We saw a Verstappen v Hamilton battle for pretty much the first time this year, which was a throwback to the events of last year. It wasn’t as big a battle as the ones last year, given how Verstappen was clearly the faster driver in a faster car this year. However, it still reminded me of the mind-blowing moments from these two battling last year. 2021 really did spoil F1 fans, because it’s safe to say we didn’t get the same entertainment this year.
However, an even bigger throwback was when we saw Sebastian Vettel’s performance. At one point, Vettel was actually leading the race! It was a wholesome moment to me, given this is Vettel’s last US GP, and the 2007 US GP was when Vettel made his race debut. The fact that Vettel, who is “past his prime”, is in his 15th season of F1, and is retiring at the end of this year actually led a race was absolutely fantastic. It brought me back to the days when Vettel used to come home to take wins, and lifted the winners’ trophy.
Apart from leading at one point, Vettel had a fantastic performance, earning him points, and a very well-deserved Driver of The Day. After starting in P10, he made his way up to P5 on Lap 1. He lost a couple of places due to comebacks from drivers in top teams. However, they didn’t pass him extremely easily because of his strong pace. Vettel remained the top driver of the midfield, and saw himself in a strong position when he finally came in for his 2nd stop. Disappointingly, Aston Martin ruined the stop, sending Vettel back to P13.
But Vettel was not to be stopped. In the last 15 laps of the race, he made a comeback of his own, slicing through the midfield. He was in P9, and on the last lap of the race, he overtook Kevin Magnussen in an intense battle to secure P8 and 4 points. It was a beautiful end to an inspirational performance from the 4-time World Champion.
Stroll and Alonso’s Crash
Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso, the two drivers set to drive for Aston Martin next year, had a major collision in the 2022 US GP. This crash was far bigger than any normal crash. On Lap 22 of 56, Alonso was attempting to overtake Stroll for P7 down the back straight into Turn 12. Alonso, who had DRS was closing up to Stroll very fast, with both drivers hitting speeds of at least 285 km/h. That’s INCREDIBLY high.
When Alonso was closing up to Stroll, he moved to the left to make the overtake on the Aston. However, at the very last moment, Stroll moved to the left as well to block Alonso off. Because of how extremely late Stroll’s move was, Alonso’s front-right tire hit and mounted Stroll’s rear-left, sending Alonso up into the air, and then into a wall. The incident was truly shocking. On the radio Alonso said, in an audibly shaken voice, “very late move.” I completely agree, and it’s safe to say that the majority of people who saw the incident did too. And of course, the Stewards agreed as well.
Lance Stroll was issued 2 penalty points to his license and a 3 place grid penalty for causing a collision. The Stewards stated that it was clear to them that he “made a late move in reacting to the overtaking attempt by the driver of Car 14 [Alonso] by moving to the left. The stewards determine that the driver of Car 18 was predominantly to blame.” To me this is fair, and the Stewards correctly identified who was clearly to blame for the incident. It was a dangerous move from Stroll, and it really didn’t end well. Stroll got a puncture and retired, but despite the incident, Alonso could keep going. Quite miraculous that was. Thankfully, both drivers were ok after the incident.
The crash did provide us with the priceless image of Fernando Alonso popping a wheelie in an F1 car. This crash will be immortalized in the memes about Alonso’s wheelie, which is something that is never seen in F1. Who said that F1 cars can’t do wheelies? We’ve got proof of it right here.
Haas v Alonso – Was The Penalty Justified?
After the 2022 US GP had finished, and Alonso had completed his fantastic comeback drive to P7, Haas lodged a protest. The protest was against the FIA’s decision to let Alonso continue in the race despite obtaining damage from the crash with Stroll. One key moment was when Alonso’s right rear view mirror went flying off the car, since it was damaged. The Stewards gave Alonso a massive 30-second time penalty, which sent him back to P15. It was quite crazy, and Alpine were understandably unhappy about it.
The Stewards wrote they were “deeply concerned that Car 14 [Alonso] was not given the black and orange flag [shown to a competitor judged to have suffered mechanical damage that requires immediate attention in the pits], or at least a radio call to rectify the situation, despite… two calls to Race Control by the Haas Team.
“Notwithstanding the above, Article 3.2 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations is clear – a car must be in a safe condition throughout a race, and in this case, Car 14 was not. This is a responsibility of the Alpine Team.”
Alpine stated that they would try to appeal the FIA’s decision, but the decision stood for a long time. It was not until Friday, October 28th that the FIA actually overturned their decision thanks to Alpine’s appeal. Alpine’s grounds for protest were that Haas lodged the protest too late. Alpine said that Haas lodged it over the time limit of 24 minutes past the deadline. The FIA denied the protest, but the Alpine asked for a right of review after finding evidence that Haas could’ve submitted the protest earlier, which allowed the decision to be reversed.
Overall, the 2022 US GP was an incredibly exciting and eventful race. I’m looking forward to the 2022 Mexican GP, and the rest of the season. The rest of the races are there for pure action, as the championships have already been decided. Congratulations once again to the 5-time World Constructors’ Champions, Red Bull Racing!