Max Verstappen could have clinched the 2022 Formula 1 world championship at the Japanese Grand Prix.

But instead he had his messiest drive of the season so far – including a trip down an escape road then left him with flatspotted tyres and requiring an extra pitstop – and finished only seventh.

Verstappen wasn’t the only big name having a scruffy night, though. His old arch-rival Lewis Hamilton crashed while chasing Carlos Sainz for third, and ended up finishing only ninth after repairs.

By contrast, Sergio Perez ended three months of frustrating struggle by taking a beautifully-judged win – on the road at least.

What to make of those turnarounds in performance?

Here are our writers’ snap verdicts:

Even the best suffer in these conditions

Gary Anderson

our verdict on f1 champions’ errors and perez’s great drive

As I said in The Race Live Hub before the grand prix started, Red Bull put Verstappen under extra pressure for the race in qualifying by not having enough fuel in the car.

With the conditions, that pressure doubled. But I’m sure by just finishing and in the end scoring a couple of points he has got rid of his frustrations.

As for Lewis, he was never happy with his situation in this race.

At the first corner he felt he was pushed off, then he didn’t agree with the tyres Mercedes fitted to start the race, then it was Sainz ahead of him that was too slow, after fitting slicks they had no grip…

In the end he made two driving mistakes, one taking him into the protective barriers which required a new nose and one being too ambitious in trying to pass Sebastian Vettel on the damp part of the track and that put paid to his chances of getting decent points out of the race.

What it does show is that no matter what your experience or previous success conditions like today’s are very difficult.

It was great fun wasn’t it? Hopefully very well done to Perez, he deserves the win and he drove like the veteran he now is.

This doesn’t answer Perez’s critics

Josh Suttill

our verdict on f1 champions’ errors and perez’s great drive

Very few doubted Perez was capable of producing a sensational Sunday performance when the cards fell right and his peaks have been far higher than any of Red Bull’s second drivers since Daniel Ricciardo.

There have been plenty of prior examples – from his breakthrough second-place finish in wet conditions at the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix to numerous underdog podiums during his Force India days to his Monaco GP win earlier this year for Red Bull.

But it hasn’t resolved the biggest doubt over his capability to be Red Bull’s second driver: whether he can put together a sustained run of races at the front, even when the characteristics of his Red Bull change.

This was a really well-put-together weekend on a track and in conditions that Perez thrives in, but those doubts won’t be going anywhere for now until he can reduce the frequency of his trough weekends.

Verstappen had the sort of one-off bad day Hamilton used to

Scott Mitchell-Malm

our verdict on f1 champions’ errors and perez’s great drive

Verstappen had one of those weekends where everything just goes a bit wrong: troubled qualifying, a bad start, a mistake in the race.

He wasn’t at his usual best and the error trying to pass Lando Norris was particularly out of character. It was reminiscent of the occasional off-day Hamilton had at the height of the Mercedes domination. It can happen because these drivers are human.

As for Hamilton, he seemed a bit more out of tune. The hit with the wall was a completely unforced error and the late mistake when racing with Vettel was very odd, as he should have known better than to go off-line like that.

The ease with which these two champions made mistakes just serves to underline the job Perez did. This was not an easy race to win but he was almost faultless – unless his safety car infringement costs him everything!

This is exactly what Perez needed

Edd Straw

our verdict on f1 champions’ errors and perez’s great drive

Sergio Perez has been enduring a terrible run of late, proving unable to extract the pace from an improving Red Bull that takes the characteristics out of his comfort zone. But in Singapore, he seized his chance to take a morale-boosting victory.

Yes, he was fortunate that Max Verstappen was out of the equation in the battle for victory and would have been significantly slower had his team-mate set the Q3 lap he had the pace to, but on Sunday he drove a fine race.

After jumping into the lead at the start, he was never able to relax but kept Leclerc at bay, absorbed the pressure when it came late in the race then built a gap late on by way of insurance in case of a time penalty. On a day when so many drivers made errors – including Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton – he kept his head and didn’t put a foot wrong.

Winning in Singapore never comes easy, doubly so in the wet, and Perez deserves enormous credit for his execution of the race. And in doing so, he delivered on what he’s there for and won on a day when Verstappen couldn’t.

It’s too soon to declare Perez’s problems solved

Glenn Freeman

our verdict on f1 champions’ errors and perez’s great drive

What a brilliant drive from Perez, in tricky conditions on one of F1’s toughest circuits. And well-timed, given the poor run of form he’s been on since the Red Bull’s optimum performance window has moved away from a set-up and driving style that suits him.

But we should wait a little bit longer before definitively declaring that he’s back on top of the issues that have been holding him back.

He’s been great on street tracks this year, and while the conditions on Saturday and Sunday were incredibly difficult for everyone, they weren’t a pure test of each driver’s ability to extract the absolute peak of performance from their cars.

None of this takes away from how well Perez performed this weekend. He got the key moments right in qualifying and the race, and never slipped up on a day where lots of other top drivers made key errors.

Let’s hope next weekend in Japan gives us a more conclusive indication that Perez is back to his best.

F1 needed this

Matt Beer

our verdict on f1 champions’ errors and perez’s great drive

Once it became clear the championship battle was over, part of me hoped Verstappen might be unbeatable for the rest of the season as that in itself would be an interesting and record-breaking storyline.

But a bit of variety is more actually interesting still. Verstappen showing he might be human after all bodes well for the rest, even though the more traditional circuits that are coming up could just give him and the Red Bull chance to stretch their dominant legs again.

It was pleasing to see how (relatively!) relaxed Verstappen was about his race too. No hint of rage or sulking, and the odd grin when discussing a night very far removed from most of his brilliant season. He can afford to be sanguine about one bad race when the title’s basically his already, but that didn’t mean he – or any other champion driver – would be.

Whether Perez’s discomfort with the Red Bull is solved in a sustainable way or not, the manner of this win will give him a confidence boost that can only help. If Red Bull goes back to being untouchable from here, we need Perez to give Verstappen a playmate at the front.

TECH NEWS RELATED

No Hybrid variants expected in the 2023 VW T-Roc range

The VW T-Roc, the German automaker’s Euro-focused compact crossover, received its mid-life facelift in November 2021. Volkswagen is amid a massive EV onslaught, but it left out electrification in the compact crossover segment. The company is unlikely to introduce any sort of electrification in the T-Roc for the 2023 model ...

View more: No Hybrid variants expected in the 2023 VW T-Roc range

Is BMW M 1000 RR Quick Enough To Beat Ferrari SF90 In A Drag Race?

Does the top-dog BMW Motorrad hold a candle against a Ferrari hypercar?

View more: Is BMW M 1000 RR Quick Enough To Beat Ferrari SF90 In A Drag Race?

2022 Royal Enfield Himalayan gets USB charger, new colours

The Lake Blue, Rock Red, and Mirage Silver colours have been discontinued. Royal Enfield has launched the updated Himalayan priced at Rs. 2,15,900 (ex-showroom, Chennai). The ADV gets a few minor updates and is now available in six colour options. In addition to Gravel Grey, Pine Green and Granite ...

View more: 2022 Royal Enfield Himalayan gets USB charger, new colours

Revisiting Motorsport Week’s pre-season F1 predictions

There was an extra murmur of excitement ahead of the 2022 Formula 1 season, as the new technical regulations brought with it the hope that there would be closer racing, and another tight championship fight. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s titanic duel from the 2021 campaign was always going ...

View more: Revisiting Motorsport Week’s pre-season F1 predictions

GM Design Shares Tasty Buick Sedan Concept For Thanksgiving

It shares a lot of cues with the Wildcat EV Concept shown earlier this year.

View more: GM Design Shares Tasty Buick Sedan Concept For Thanksgiving

Morgan Plus Four CX-T v Ariel Nomad

Ariel’s wild Nomad and Morgan’s equally mad CX-T were designed with off-road adventures in mind. So how do they feel on the smooth asphalt of the Bedford Autodrome? Here’s where we find out

View more: Morgan Plus Four CX-T v Ariel Nomad

Mercedes convinced of ‘very strong’ F1 recovery in 2023

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W13. Formula One Testing, Tuesday 22nd November 2022. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Mercedes believes that its in-season development, and understanding of its weaknesses, means it will be “in a very strong place” in 2023. Mercedes swept to eight successive world titles ...

View more: Mercedes convinced of ‘very strong’ F1 recovery in 2023

In-Car OnStar Services For 2015 And Older GM Vehicles Is About To End

However, key OnStar services will still be accessible through a different method.

View more: In-Car OnStar Services For 2015 And Older GM Vehicles Is About To End

The one area Ricciardo proved he is ‘world class’ at Mc Laren

BMW M5 CS Gets Even More Power From Manhart, Tuned To Nearly 800 HP

Mahindra XUV700 Recall Over ‘Gud-Gud’ Suspension Noise

Toyota Innova Hycross ZX (O) Hybrid First Look

Royal Enfield 650cc adventure bike in the works

Porsche Flaunts Taycan Cross Turismo Roof Tent Through Glamping

BMW X3 M40i owner buys Tesla Model 3 Performance: Detailed review

BYD Dolphin – likely to be Australia’s first sub $40,000 EV – seen on Sydney streets

BMW sinks R36 billion into electric car factory

Ferrari Purosangue makes its debut in Australia, on sale from $728,000

Alfa Romeo working on a new sports car – Everything we know

Lamborghini Urus Performante Launch Price Rs 4.22 Cr

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News