The 2022 F1 Japanese GP was complete chaos from the start. Beyond the red flag and the incident with the crane, when the test finally resumed, the calculators were launched to see if Verstappen could be champion.
After the farce of the 2021 Belgian GP, Formula 1 modified the regulations so that, if at least two green-flag laps were not run, there would be no distribution of points . Finally the rain gave a respite and this Sunday’s race at Suzuka did have enough laps, although it created a surreal situation.
The drivers covered between 50% and 75% of the race distance, which in theory gave Verstappen 19 points, Charles Leclerc 14 and Sergio Pérez 12. But, shortly after the checkered flag, a penalty was announced for the Ferrari driver for going off the track and gaining an advantage, so the Mexican became second and Leclerc third.
Applying the new regulations, it would seem that Verstappen would thus add 19 points and Leclerc 12, with which the Dutchman was just one point away from the title . However, Formula 1 considered that the race had been completed under a checkered flag and that the points cut would only apply when a test was not resumed and was suspended (after a red flag).
Thus, Max Verstappen added 25 points as the winner of the Japanese GP , and the sanction against Leclerc that sent him to third place made him add only 15, which gave the 2022 champion title to Red Bull with four races to go.
Despite the confusion, it was legal: the race was not suspended, and since it was completed (although not with 75% of the distance), the normal points were awarded.
What happened left a decaffeinated celebration, and that is that while F1 announced with great fanfare that Verstappen was champion, not even his team was clear about it. The cameras picked up a curious conversation between Max and Checo Pérez in the prepodium room in which they wondered if the title was already theirs or not.
Finally, F1 passed Verstappen to another room and seated him on the throne of world champion in 2022 and, yes, everyone was aware that there is a new two-time champion. A brilliant two-time champion who was left without his triumphant lap and who was not mathematically champion until after the race.