Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz said the FIA had used the prospect of fan complaints as reasoning for a standing start in Japan as heavy rain fell.
After a wet Friday was followed by a dry Saturday, the weather reports were rather mixed as to which of those conditions would prevail come race day at Suzuka.
It turned out to be rain which greeted the drivers, though the race began on time with a standing start, Sainz spinning out and into the barriers on the opening lap.
Sainz into the barriers!
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 9, 2022
“I tried to get out of Perez’s spray and found myself in a big puddle, had aquaplaning and couldn’t do anything to hold the car,” Sainz told Sky Sports F1 as he recalled the incident.
“At that moment my only concern was not being hit. I was in a dangerous position in the middle of the track and I knew the other drivers couldn’t see me.”
Fortunately there was no secondary impact from Sainz as the rest of the pack avoided his stricken Ferrari, the race then red flagged a few laps later as the rain intensified and after several early shunts.
Sainz was not too happy that the race began with a standing start in the first place, explaining that the FIA were concerned about how the fans would react if the Japanese GP was to begin with a rolling start.
The scene was comparable to Singapore on the weekend prior. The start was delayed as a torrential storm rolled through the circuit, with the track ready for intermediate tyres by the time of lights out.
“It was maybe that the best would have been a rolling start on extreme [wet tyres], but anyway it was going to get worse, just to avoid any dangerous situation,” said Sainz.
“But then they call us: ‘If we start in a rolling start on extreme (wets) everyone complains that Formula One doesn’t race in the wet.’ But when you see the situation, basically we’re driving without visibility. So how can you drive a Formula One car at 300 kph (186mph) without visibility?”
The race was suspended for almost two hours before action resumed, 28 laps completed as the race clock ran out and Max Verstappen was crowned both race winner and 2022 World Champion.