Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen poses with the trophy on the podium after his victory at the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, October 9, 2022.
Toshifumi Kitamura | AFP | Getty Images
Max Verstappen sealed his second Formula One world title amid great confusion after winning a chaotic, rain-shortened Japanese Grand Prix.
There was much confusion at the checkered flag over the uncertainty of whether full or partial points would be awarded for a race that completed only 29 of the 53 scheduled laps.
With between 50 and 75 per cent of the laps completed, most of the F1 paddock believed Verstappen would receive just 19 points for his win. But for the Japanese GP, there was a different interpretation of the rules, stating that the reduced points only apply if a race is suspended “and cannot be restarted”.
Verstappen was visibly confused by the situation as celebrations began and were then interrupted, but it was eventually confirmed that full points had been awarded, sealing the 25-year-old’s triumph with four races of the season remaining.
“The first is a little more emotional, the second more beautiful,” said Verstappen.
“If we look back at what a year we’ve had so far. It’s been incredible. It’s something I never could have imagined. After last year, fighting to the end, and then again this year such a good car I’m so grateful to everyone who has contributed to this success.”
The Dutchman would have been denied the title if Charles Leclerc had finished second, but the Ferrari driver’s mistake on the last lap resulted in a five-second penalty – for leaving the track and gaining an advantage – which left him to third place behind the other red bull by Sergio Perez.
The field exits the pit lane for the restart after a red flag delay during the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on October 09, 2022 in Suzuka, Japan.
Dan Istitene – Formula 1 | Formula 1 | Getty Images
The race previously threatened to be marred by controversy when a first attempt to start in heavy rain resulted in chaos, with Carlos Sainz crashing into a barrier before a recovery tractor entered the track with the cars still on the track .
The race was red flagged and delayed for more than two hours as rain continued and the chances of a resumption at several points seemed bleak.
However, the sky cleared and the race resumed with a rolling start behind the safety car with around 45 minutes remaining on the three hour clock which started ticking with the first start.
As the track dried, the field switched from wets to intermediates but Verstappen felt comfortable throughout as he pulled away and won by 27 seconds.
Esteban Ocon put in a brilliant defensive performance to hold Lewis Hamilton back in fourth place, while Sebastian Vettel and Nicholas Latifi benefited from being first cars to pit at the restart and finishing sixth and ninth respectively.
Japanese GP final result, Top 10
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
3) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
4) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
5) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
6) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
7) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
8) George Russel, Mercedes
9) Nicholas Latifi, Williams
10) Lando Norris, McLaren