Max Verstappen won his second Formula 1 world title in strange circumstances, as he learned that he had been world champion during subsequent interviews at the parc fermé . That came after the FIA handed a five-second penalty to Charles Leclerc for gaining a “lasting lead” by cutting through Suzuka’s final chicane to defend second from Sergio Perez.
By dropping the Monegasque to third place, the Dutchman from Red Bull obtained the ten-point advantage he needed to be crowned at the Japanese GP, despite not having completed 75% of the race distance stipulated by the regulations to distribute the entire booty.
Verstappen celebrated with his mechanics before taking the podium, but he could later be heard not believing he had won it: “During the race, I had no idea what they were going to decide with the points.”
“The main goal was to win, but once I crossed the finish line I was like, ‘OK’, it was an amazing test, good points again, but not world champion yet,” said the Dutchman. “When I did the interviews after the race, all of a sudden my mechanics started to perk up, and I was wondering what was going on.
“Then I realized that Checo [Perez] was second instead of Charles [Leclerc], but I still didn’t know if it was full points, half or whatever, I don’t know how to do it,” the newly crowned Dutchman commented. “But in the end we had enough points so we were world champions again.”
The confusion over the regulations came from the change after last season’s Belgian GP, where half the points were awarded after completing just two laps behind the safety car. As the regulations for the reduction of the prize only refer to races in which the march cannot be restarted, the fact that in Japan the maximum of three hours was reached from the start and only 28 laps of the 53 planned were completed. , means that all the loot could be granted.
“To be honest, I don’t mind that it was a bit confusing,” Verstappen said. “Actually, I find it quite funny, because in the end, it’s not going to change the result. When I crossed the finish line, it wasn’t enough anyway, even if all the points had been given, it wouldn’t have changed anything.”
Several personalities from the Formula 1 teams, including their boss, Christian Horner , suggested that the FIA should review the regulations, with the new two-time world champion explaining that “complex situations” happened when races were suspended and resumed.
“It’s the difference between whether you finish a race or there are red flags at the start and you can’t continue,” said the Red Bull Dutchman. “Of course there’s a big difference between the two, but I think if you don’t spell out the rules well, it’s not good, just like if you tweak them a lot. It’s always hard to find a middle ground.”
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