Cue the music:
Now while I was channel surfing between the final 2 hours of the Bathurst 1000 and the Japanese Grand Prix, which was marred by heavy rain at Suzuka, I noticed throughout the race that pretty much everyone (Myself included), from F1 teams, drivers (Among them Max Verstappen), and media outlets like the F1 App and Sky F1, were under the assumption that today’s Japanese Grand Prix was only going to be a 75% points race thanks to the rain-induced Red Flag that resulted in the race being suspended for a good 2 hours, due to this line in Article 6.5 f) of the 2022 Sporting Regulations.
Should the leader complete 50% but less than 75% of the scheduled race distance, points will be awarded to the Top 10 as follows:
1st – 19 points
2nd – 14 points
3rd – 12 points
4th – 9 points
5th – 8 points
6th – 6 points
7th – 5 points
8th – 3 points
9th – 2 points
10th – 1 point
That would’ve meant race winner Max Verstappen would still be waiting until the US Grand Prix in a fortnight to secure the World Championship (He still would’ve needed 1 more point to confirm it, because the cars only completed 28 out of the scheduled 53 laps, which under the old rules would’ve been well short of the 75% distance required for full points and seen half-points awarded.
For context, all of these changes about red flags & points came about because of the farce that was the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, which was red-flagged and called off after 2 laps behind the Safety Car just so they could claim a race was run, and subsequently after 40 years of the same red flag half-points rules, in February the F1 Commission approved the changes to Article 6.5:
6.5 If a race is suspended in accordance with Article 57, and cannot be resumed, points for each title will be awarded in accordance with the following criteria:
a) No points will be awarded If the leader has completed less than two (2) laps.
b) In each case detailed in Article 6.5c), 6.5d), 6.5e) and 6.5f), no points will be awarded unless a minimum of two (2) laps have been completed by the leader without a Safety Car and/or VSC intervention.
c) If the leader has completed two (2) laps but less than 25% of the scheduled race distance, points will be awarded in accordance with column 1 of the table below.
d) If the leader has completed 25% but less than 50% of the scheduled race distance, points will be awarded in accordance with column 2 of the table below.
e) If the leader has completed 50% but less than 75% of the scheduled race distance, points will be awarded in accordance with column 3 of the table below.
f) If the leader has completed 75% or more of the scheduled race distance, full points will be awarded in accordance with Article 6.4.
With those changes, the FIA reworded the old 75% distance requirement for full points to be awarded, and the key wording on today’s decision (Which we all missed), and any future decisions in races that don’t make it to 75% distance but finish under green flags, can be found in the start of Article 6.5….
If a race is suspended in accordance with Article 57, and cannot be resumed.
Of course, the race today was red flagged, but was restarted and completed under green flag conditions by the chequered flag due to the expiry of the 3-hour time limit, meaning the FIA were free to award full points to the Top 10, despite the race barely reaching 50% scheduled distance.
Hence, Max Verstappen was awarded the full 25 points for the race win, and thanks to LeClerc’s 5-second penalty for cutting the final chicane that dropped him from 2nd to 3rd behind Sergio Perez, Verstappen got the points buffer he needed (113 to be exact) to officially become World Champion for the second time.
And completing this mind**** of a scenario, Max didn’t even realise he was World Champion until the post-race interview with Johnny Herbert, when the news came in that LeClerc had been given the 5-second penalty, and people hadn’t realised the FIA had awarded full points.
Alright, now that that’s out of the way, now we’re free to figure out the next mind-numbing decision by the FIA….
How the hell they allowed a tractor onto the track while there were still cars circulating at high speed and totally forgot about it, as if they’d totally forgotten Jules Bianchi died thanks to hitting a tractor AT SUZUKA IN HEAVY RAIN IN 2014.
But oh yeah, just blame Pierre Gasly for going too fast under a Red Flag, you meatheads.