Max Verstappen claimed his second Formula 1 world title after victory at the Japanese Grand Prix, with four races still to go before the end of the season. With 12 wins, the Dutchman has dominated throughout the year, moving away from the leader of the standings at the start, Charles Leclerc, after several times on top of the podium in the summer.
The Monegasque retired leading the races in Spain and Azerbaijan due to mechanical problems in his Ferrari, but was responsible for the mistake he made in France, where a spin sent him straight into the guards as he was fighting for victory. The failure allowed the Red Bull to win at Paul Ricard and lead the general with a difference of 63 points.
Reflecting on his title run after Suzuka, Verstappen said there were “a few moments” when he thought he had “a good chance” of winning the championship, but revealed that it was after that event on French soil that he began to hope to secure his second crown in 2022.
“The moment I thought we were going to win was, I think, after Paul Ricard, when the lead increased quite a bit,” said the Dutchman. “We had a pretty competitive car, we knew it was going to be close in the next couple of races, but I was like, this is a gap we can’t let slip.”
The win in France started a five-race win streak for Verstappen as Red Bull increased the pace gap to Ferrari. That included the new two-time champion’s comeback in Hungary, when he started 10th, or Belgium, where he started from the back of the pack to climb to the top of the podium at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Dutchman chose that appointment as the point at which the world championship was decided: “I have to say that it was that weekend because I totally dominated. Those tests are very rare, especially when you come home at night and reflect on everything that happened, you realize it was pretty crazy and special.
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