Formula 1: Max Verstappen is surprised by world championship title at Japanese Grand Prix

Rain Chaos creates Score Chaos

Verstappen surprised by world title

Max Verstappen wins the Japanese Grand Prix Formula 1. He is still not the new world champion – so it is initially said because there should be fewer points in the shortened rain race. But then he is declared defending champion. Even Red Bull is surprised.

Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen has won the Japanese Grand Prix in the rain chaos at Suzuka. Due to a surprising decision by the race management, the Dutchman can already defend his title. The 25-year-old is proclaimed and celebrated as the new world champion on the track.

The confusion is great. Because there should not be the full number of World Cup points in a shortened rain chaos race, Verstappen would have missed a point in the World Cup standings. However, the race management then awarded the full number of points as the race had initially resumed after a long break behind the safety car. Only 28 of the 53 scheduled laps had been completed.

Verstappen also benefited in the Ferrari from a penalty for his closest competitor Charles Leclerc. The Monegask had finished second, but was then given a five-second time penalty. Leclerc fought a duel with Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez just before the finish. He missed a corner.

“It’s mixed feelings,” said Verstappen: “I thank everyone who contributed to this success.” At first, he himself did not understand whether he had already made the title perfect. “Am I World Champion? Aren’t I?” he asked before the awards ceremony. Then, after his 32nd Formula 1 win and the twelfth of the season, he was certain: “After the race they told me about the FIA. Unbelievable.”

“We thought they didn’t award the full points,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky. Motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said jokingly: “Thanks to the spokesperson up there we are world champions.” With four races to go, Verstappen can no longer be pushed out of the top of the world championship by any of his pursuers.

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel finished sixth in the points in the Aston Martin in his last race in Japan thanks to a daring strategy. Mick Schumacher’s tire gamble went wrong, the Haas driver missed the points and finished 18th and the last driver to cross the finish line.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly experienced a moment of shock. On lap two, the Alpha Tauri driver just sped past a recovery vehicle – reminiscing about the serious accident in Suzuka in 2014 that killed his friend Jules Bianchi. The race had already been interrupted at that point.

(This article was first published on Sunday, October 9, 2022.)

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