Max Verstappen clinched his second Formula One drivers’ title in confusing and dramatic fashion at Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix as Red Bull braces for news of whether they broke the sport’s budget limit last season.
As the rain lashed Suzuka, an early red flag was followed by a delay of over two hours as drivers and team principals were furious after a recovery vehicle was sent onto the circuit and involved in a near miss involving Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri.
When action resumed, there was confusion as to whether full points would be awarded in a race where the time limit would expire before the lap count expired.
This meant that even when Charles Leclerc received a five-second time penalty from Ferrari for gaining an advantage on the final lap to put Sergio Perez’s sister Red Bull in second place behind Verstappen, it was unclear whether the Dutchman had retained his title.
It was only in a post-race interview that Verstappen’s dominant 2022 championship title was confirmed – but the 25-year-old could at least see humor in a situation that left many people, including the man himself, scratching their heads.
“To be honest, I don’t mind that it was a bit confusing,” said Verstappen.
“I actually think it’s quite funny because at the end of the day it won’t change anything in the result.
“When I crossed the finish line I didn’t believe that we would win the title there because I didn’t know whether we would get full points or not.
“I don’t think everyone was 100 percent sure in the end. During the race I had no idea what they would decide with the points.
“The main plan was to win the race, but when I crossed the finish line I was like, ‘That was a great race, good points again, but not a world champion yet’.
“Then Tom (Wood, FIA Media Delegate) came to me and said I was World Champion and all of a sudden people were like, ‘No, you need one more point’.
“So it was a bit strange, but in the end we had enough points to then become world champions again.”
Full points were awarded because the race was restarted after previously being red flagged and the regulations state that in this scenario the half point system used when a race is not restarted does not apply is applied.
For Verstappen, after his victory in Abu Dhabi last year, it was the second consecutive title win that took place under unusual circumstances.
Red Bull went into this weekend under a cloud, with the sport’s governing body, the FIA, delaying until Monday its findings on whether any of the teams on the grid broke financial rules.
The team have faced unproven allegations that they exceeded F1’s cost ceiling of #114million last season – putting a spotlight on the legitimacy of Verstappen’s already disputed 2021 championship win over Lewis Hamilton.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/confusion-max-verstappen-red-bull-japan-fia-b2199139.html Max Verstappen takes second drivers’ title amid chaotic scenes in Japan