Max Verstappen cruised to his 12th victory of the 2022 season and his second World Championship at the returning Japanese Grand Prix. However, the race will forever be remembered for what almost became a tragic replica of Jules Bianchi’s horrifying 2014 crash.
Sunday was not a day that the FIA will be proud of, after a catalogue of errors were made during the race at the Suzuka International Racing Course.
The first mistake made was seemingly starting the race in the first place, as heavy rain continued to pound against the circuit.
Alex Albon labelled the conditions as the “worst” he’d ever driven in, with the Williams driver likening himself to a “pinball”.
With the circuit already being wet and the rain continuing to intensify, visibility for the midfield drivers was shockingly poor.
Albon explained that he could see “maybe 10 metres”, resulting in a number of drivers going across the circuit on the opening lap, in order to find the edges of the track.
Whilst doing so, Albon and Kevin Magnussen collided together, which caused an instant issue for Albon’s FW44.
The Thai driver pulled off the circuit on the inside of Turn 12 on the first lap, bringing an abrupt end to the race that he believes shouldn’t have started.
“Created with contact, to be honest, just the side of the car got hit and that was us out – it was one of those things,” Albon said of his race exit to Sky Sports F1.
“I don’t really understand why we went racing to begin with, we could have seen maybe 10 metres in front of us at the very most.
“With cars at the back we were kind of doing pinball just because we couldn’t see the track edge, so we were just going left to right, left to right down the straights, not really knowing where the track was.
“So yeah, that’s that was what happened to me. I couldn’t see where I was on the track and I touched with another car which of course I also didn’t see, so it’s a tricky one but that’s how it is.”
Albon wasn’t the only opening lap retirement, as Carlos Sainz crashed heavily on the outside of Turn 12, after sliding across the circuit.
The Spaniard’s crash brought out an instant Safety Car; however, what followed was “unacceptable”.
As the remaining drivers reached Turn 12 on the second lap, they came across a recovery vehicle and a marshal who the FIA had allowed onto the circuit.
Drivers couldn’t believe what they were seeing, especially Pierre Gasly, who almost crashed into the back of the vehicle.
Gasly was furious with the FIA, as were the entire paddock.
The Frenchman accused the FIA of having not learnt from Bianchi’s crash in 2014, where the driver crashed underneath a recovery vehicle.
Bianchi sadly died in 2015 due to the injuries he sustained from the crash.
A similar incident happened at the Singapore Grand Prix the week before Japan, which Albon revealed resulted in Sebastian Vettel discussing the need to ensure recovery vehicles aren’t on a live circuit.
Whatever Vettel said clearly went straight over the FIA’s head, with Albon expecting more talks to now take place.
“We already talked about it because it already kind of happened in Singapore actually,” Albon added.
“I’m not sure but I think Seb raised it up in the in the driver’s briefing earlier this week – I don’t know if it’s happened again.
“Of course, we know what happened you know, we don’t want to talk about [a] few years ago, but we are in a position where it is really dangerous, and I think people don’t realise that.
“Of course, the FIA I’m sure are going to be on such discussions going into the into the next race. About why that recovery crane was on the circuit.”