Max Verstappen led the opening meters of the race from pole position despite wet track conditions, which quickly worsened and caused Carlos Sainz to crash. At that point, the session was red-flagged.
When conditions improved slightly, the race resumed with 40 minutes to go, and Verstappen came out on top again, leaving Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) behind to score his 12th victory of the season.
The Monegasque beat Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez but was handed a 5-second penalty by the FIA stewards for missing the final chicane and lost second place to the Mexican.
That was enough for Verstappen to become world champion for the second consecutive year, not without controversy.
F1 Japanese Grand Prix 2022 Race Results
|Carlos Sainz Jr.||0|
What happened at the F1 Japanese Grand Prix race at Suzuka?
On a track with tricky conditions due to rain and with all the cars starting on intermediate tyres, Verstappen held the lead until Turn 1.
Leclerc, who went wheel to wheel with the Dutchman, gave in and came second, ahead of Pérez, Sainz, Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).
Sebastian Vettel spun after colliding with Fernando Alonso’s Alpine at Turn 1, and a little later, Sainz suffered aquaplaning and that caused the safety car to come out.
Guanyu Zhou also spun his Alfa Romeo, at the hairpin, while Pierre Gasly came out of the pitlane and hit a billboard that had fallen on the track after Sainz’s accident, while Alex Albon’s Williams also stopped at half of the track.
Due to the intensification of the rain and all those incidents, the race director decided to raise the red flag, but before that, Gasly, who had entered the pits to change the nose, experienced one of the most controversial moments of the year when he crossed on the track with an extraction crane that was removing Sainz’s car.
After the long delay, Verstappen was leading ahead of Leclerc, Pérez, Ocon, Hamilton and Alonso. Vettel pitted almost immediately and began to set fastest sector times, causing the rest of the drivers to copy his strategy.
Alonso led for a lap, before he too pitted. Mick Schumacher briefly led, but Verstappen passed him to get back into the lead, while Leclerc fell some five seconds behind. After setting the fastest lap, Leclerc struggled with tire degradation, losing over 20 seconds to Verstappen and seeing Perez close in from behind.
The Mexican attacked him in the closing stages, but Leclerc managed to fight back and finish second, but a five-second penalty for missing the Casio chicane on the last lap relegated him to third, with the Red Bull climbed to second step of the podium.
Ocon and Hamilton battled for fourth place, while Vettel benefited from his early pit stop to finish sixth, with Alonso right behind him. George Russell lost time in the pit stops but was able to recover and finish eighth.
The fastest laps of the 2022 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix
|1||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||20||1’44.411||200.220|
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||10||1’44.911||0.500||0.422||199.266|
|5||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||21||1’45.205||0.794||0.294||198.709|
|8||Yuki Tsunoda||Alpha Tauri||twenty two||1’45.893||1.482||0.363||197.418|
|9||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||eleven||1’46.120||1,709||0.227||196,995|
|12||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||13||1’46.964||2.553||0.405||195.441|
|14||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||11||1’47.820||3.409||0.816||193.889|