Parc Ferme: Move along, nothing to see here folks...

Parc Ferme: Move along, nothing to see here folks…

Parc Ferme: Move along, nothing to see here folks...

My crystal ball is on fire at the moment. Before the Singapore Grand Prix, I suggested that Max Verstappen would not be lighting up a World Championship cigar at the end of that race.

Last Thursday in Parc Ferme, I explained the reasons behind the apparent failure and why it would instead happen in Suzuka.

However, as the truncated Japanese Grand Prix came to a finish on Sunday, I harboured thoughts of taking a hammer to the said crystal ball. So close, and yet so far.

“The Klompmeister” predictably nailed the win, and by a whopping 27-second plus margin! However, probably at the behest of Ferrari, Zhou Guanyu put on a late set of Intermediates and then set fastest lap.

Charles gives a helping hand

Even Charles Leclerc demoting himself to third by grabbing a five-second penalty on the last lap would not be sufficient to deliver the World Championship mathematically out of reach.

The points would be reduced since there had been only 28 (52%) of a 53-lap race.  A belief that was shared by; the Red Bull Team, Max Verstappen, and every other TV pundit/commentator/ fan around the world as “The Klompmeister” pulled up in Parc Ferme.

That is until the pigeon of clear regulations and good governance got sucked into the jet engine of FIA officiating!

Glass half full

We first came to know that full points would be awarded when Johnny Herbert suddenly biffed-off 2nd placed Sergio Perez halfway through his post-race interview.

Recalling Max Verstappen to tell him he was World Champion, the 25-year-old looked as equally bewildered as the suddenly “dropped” Perez, as he shot WTF glances at his team.

Then the video wall behind him exploded with the same message, but his team’s reaction remained damper than the weather.

Fire the interior designer?

Max Verstappen - Double World Champion - Japan

The surrealist nature of things continued into the driver’s cool-down area, as someone had placed a special chair in a separate room to seat the newly crowned champ.

To say it was as “camp as a row of tents” was an understatement. “The Klompmeister” looked decidedly uncomfortable sitting in it and quickly deserted the room and said furniture for the companionship of his fellow drivers; trying to seek further clarification of his win from Leclerc and Perez.

Yes but, no, but yes

As the celebrations commenced on the podium, Christian Horner and “The good doctor” looked somewhat befuddled together with everyone else gathering around Parc Ferme.

The general bemusement bearing testament to the Formula 1‘s fraternities’ confidence in the organizer’s competence. Everyone thought it was a cock-up. Everyone waited for the sound of furious backpedaling. It never came. The confetti cannons fired and as we know once that happens… It’s a fact!

Repeated Drama

How could this happen? We learnt last year in Abu Dhabi, that clear-cut FIA regulations can be interpreted and it looks like that’s what occurred here.

A subsequent FIA Press Release referred to Article 6.5 in the regulations but for this, to work it requires some “imagination”. You know, one of those “potato/tomato” things.

Amusingly, even Red Bull’s Christian Horner and sporting warlock in chief – Jonathan Wheatley, think they (the officials) got it wrong.

Max Verstappen is the victim

Max Verstappen - Japan - 2022

Ironically, the biggest victim here is “The Klompmeister”. I can’t help but feel sorry for him. Whatever your persuasion, his second World Championship, like his first, will probably be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

However, in contrast to last year, there is no doubt that he played for and won the 2022 Crown. His performance has been outstanding in every aspect (especially media communication) and he has schooled the field whenever his car has not let him down.

He deserves to have these facts remembered in place of the Suzuka points shambles that everyone will talk about in the years to come.

Meanwhile, I’m junking my crystal ball. It is proving rather recalcitrant in predicting future lottery winning numbers or the results of the 4:30 at Newmarket. Everything is unclear, with no straight answers and open to interpretation –  much like an FIA regulation…