Max Verstappen had crossed the finish line ahead of the Ferrari driver, who had been defending against Sergio Perez, the other Red Bull driver.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the rain-shortened Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, securing his second consecutive Formula One title after closest rival Charles Leclerc was penalized post-race. Max Verstappen had crossed the finish line ahead of the Ferrari driver, who had been defending against Sergio Perez, the other Red Bull driver.
However, the Monegasque had five seconds added to his race time for cutting across the final chicane on the final lap, dropping him to third place. “It’s a crazy feeling, of course, because I didn’t expect it when I crossed the line,” Verstappen said, amid uncertainty over whether reduced points under new rules introduced this year would apply with the race approaching halfway.
“Was it going to be half points? I had no idea how many points I was going to get,” he explained.
The governing body of the sport, the FIA, clarified that the reduced points rule only applies to races that have been suspended and cannot be resumed. Due to heavy rain, the race was called off after two laps on Sunday, but it was resumed a little more than two hours later, with drivers completing 28 of the scheduled 53 laps and full points awarded.
As a result, Max Verstappen gives Japan a 113-point lead over Perez, who now moves into second place overall. To be crowned champion on Sunday, he needed at least a 112-point margin over his closest competitor. Max Verstappen’s victory in Japan was his 12th in as many races. With four races remaining, the Dutchman is on track to break Michael Schumacher’s and Sebastian Vettel’s record of 13 wins in a season.
“Max Verstappen has just been incredible,” said Leclerc, the early title favorite who led Verstappen by 46 points after three races. “It’s a title fully deserved. “We’ll try to push ourselves over the next four races to improve as a team and hopefully put up a bigger challenge next year.” Max Verstappen started the race from the pole position on Sunday.
He was beaten off the line by Leclerc in the wet, but he went wheel-to-wheel with the Ferrari over the first two corners, spray streaming behind them, and reclaimed the lead. Several car accidents brought out the safety car before the first lap could be completed, and a recovery vehicle deployed on the track caused concern as Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri sped past. The race was called off on the second lap due to weather conditions, and it resumed with a rolling start after a two-hour delay. Verstappen, on the other hand, vanished into the distance and was recorded as finishing 27 seconds ahead of his teammate.
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