Verstappen wins the championship in shorten Suzuka race

Max Verstappen is a two-time Formula 1 world champion in surreal circumstances after Charles Leclerc received a late time penalty in a heavily delayed and wet Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

The Red Bull Racing driver dominated a time-limited and controversial event to win by close to half a minute, but not scoring the bonus point for the fastest lap looked to leave him one point short of the title.

However, a post-race five-second penalty for runner-up Leclerc – adjudged to have squeezed Sergio Perez excessively out of the last corner – dropped the Ferrari driver behind the Singapore Grand Prix winner to hand Verstappen the championship.

The ever-changing weather forecast for the Suzuka weekend culminated in the rain shower that was originally predicted to hit after the race instead of dousing the grid in the build-up.

As such, all drivers opted for intermediate tyres for what was kept as a proper standing start.

But conditions proved marginal, as the red flag was deployed owing to a messy opening lap.

Leclerc had enjoyed the superior launch, despite the limited grip, to draw alongside polesitter Verstappen and the Ferrari even pulled ahead by half a car length. However, the Red Bull driver kept his foot in through the first corner to hold the line and decisively retake first position with a brave around the outside pass.

Meanwhile, there was a litany of incidents behind in the limited visibility and low grip.

Third-starting Carlos Sainz, having been jumped by Sergio Perez, caught a patch of standing water while accelerating and the torque surge spat him at considerable into the barrier.

He was eliminated with a crumpled rear wing, while Alex Albon pulled over on the gravel with Williams engine trouble, as Zhou Guanyu spun his Alfa Romeo to rejoin in P17.

Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, dropped from his impressive ninth in qualifying to P16 after a bump with Fernando Alonso into Turn 1 that pitched him into the gravel and the Aston Martin spun.

Teammate Lance Stroll, though, shot forward seven position to P11 with a committed first lap.

Pierre Gasly, starting the AlphaTauri from the pitlane owing to a rear wing spec change and revised suspension, drove over an advertising board ripped off from the Sainz impact.

That tore off his front wing and became stuck to block his visibility and force a pitstop.

For all of this, the safety car was initially deployed before the red flags halted events.

Of concern, when Gasly rejoined on full wets and just as the full red flags came, he appeared to pass at speed a flatbed recovery tractor on track through Turn 12. The driver was furious.

This incident will be investigated after the race, with Gasly summoned to the stewards.

The contention lies over Gasly’s pace while closing to the pack, which the FIA states was “up to 250km/h (155mph)”. The recovery vehicle was on track at that site for the entire field.

The stoppage had run for 42 minutes before a restart was planned, which was meant to be led by a rolling start behind the safety car as the extreme wet tyre was mandated.

However, two minutes before time, the restart procedure was suspended indefinitely by race control and over the next 80 minutes, heavier showers periodically arrived at the track.

In that time, the medical car was sent out occasionally for reconnaissance laps, but conditions did not improve sufficiently until almost two full hours had passed after the initial red flag.

But the race was then finally scheduled to restart with the cars, as before, on full wets for a rolling start with a little over 48 minutes remaining on the countdown timer.

As drivers held mixed opinions on visibility and track conditions, the safety car led an out, full and in-lap before returning to the pitlane to leave Verstappen to keep clear of Leclerc.

Vettel and Nicholas Latifi dived into the pits to swap to inters but the Aston was released side-by-side with the Williams, before Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas stopped a lap later.

With those runners setting fastest sectors, Verstappen headed Leclerc into the pits, but the Ferrari lost one second to a sticky right-rear as Perez and George Russell were held by double stacks.

That left Fernando Alonso to inherit the lead over Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher but only the Haas driver, anticipating a safety car, did not pit for inters next time around.

Verstappen tore past Schumacher on the inside, but Leclerc lost 1.6 seconds trying to demote the Haas driver to leave him 4.6 seconds in arrears of Verstappen on the ninth lap with 31 minutes to go.

Schumacher remained a sitting duck, losing out to Perez, Esteban Ocon and Lewis Hamilton over the next tour before finally pitting on lap 12 having already dropped to P13.

Verstappen continued to extend his lead with a clear road ahead to the tune of 1.5 seconds per lap. Leclerc, though, seemed to particularly struggle as Perez was also circulating nearly 1s faster.

So, with eight minutes to run and with 243 laps completed, Verstappen held a 18 seconds advantage as Perez was only 0.8 seconds behind the sole Ferrari but despite a couple of chances, never passed.

Perez’s best attempt came when Leclerc missed the first part of the chicane only for the Ferrari driver to rejoin and squeeze Perez to the edge of the track on the sprint to the flag.

That order prevented Red Bull from pitting Verstappen late on for new inters for a shot at fastest lap, as the Dutch racer took the eventual victory an imperious 26.8 seconds clear of Leclerc.

As such, without the extra point, Verstappen appeared set to miss out on his coronation until the United States GP, only for Leclerc to be handed a five-second penalty to drop behind Perez.

Verstappen only learned of his success in the post-race interview.

Behind the top three, passing came at a premium following the rush for inters that had previously jumbled the order. Ocon defended stoutly for fourth ahead of a chasing Hamilton.

Vettel took sixth, having gained a position after Alonso made a late stop for inters to fall to P10 before climbing back up the order, as behind the Alpine ranked George Russell.

The Mercedes was one of few climbers but neatly passed Yuki Tsunoda, Norris and Latifi for ninth.

Latifi’s early move for inters returned points in ninth place as Norris completed the top ten over teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen in winning the Japanese Grand Prix and the 2022 world championship. Has the most wins in this year’s championship in the Red Bull RB16 and has driven brilliantly all season. So fully deserved this title win despite the surreal ending at Suzuka. This won’t take away Verstappen’s achievements this season. Well done Super Max!

Japanese Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 3:01:44.004
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull +27.066s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +31.763s
4 Esteban Ocon Alpine +39.685s
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +40.326s
6 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +46.358s
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine +46.369s
8 George Russell Mercedes +47.661s
9 Nicholas Latifi Williams +70.143s
10 Lando Norris McLaren +70.782s
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +72.877s
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +73.904s
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +75.599s
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas +86.016s
15 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +86.496s
16 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +87.043s
17 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +88.091s
18 Mick Schumacher Haas +92.523s
– Alex Albon Williams DNF
– Carlos Sainz Ferrari DNF

8 thoughts to “Verstappen wins the championship in shorten Suzuka race”

  1. Japanese Grand Prix race review as reported by

    Max Verstappen claimed victory in the Japanese Grand Prix, and took the 2022 world title with it, after a dramatic late penalty for Charles Leclerc put the championship beyond doubt.

    Verstappen won a restarted race amid persistent rain at Suzuka, with Leclerc initially looking set to finish second. But the Ferrari driver was penalised for cutting the chicane on the final lap as he defended from the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

    The dramatic points swing means Verstappen heads to the United States Grand Prix, and the final four races of the season, with an unassailable lead over Perez and Leclerc – confirming him as champion.

    The race originally got under way as planned at 1400 local time, with Verstappen defending from Leclerc after a close run to Turn 1, and only two laps being completed before the action was red-flagged amid intense spray and a series of incidents – which included Carlos Sainz crashing out.

    A lengthy delay followed, with the overall three-hour race limit ticking down, and the two-hour window coming into force an hour after the initial start, as Race Control waited for a suitable gap in the weather to get the action going again.

    With just under 50 minutes to run on the race clock, the Safety Car led the field out of the pit lane for a planned rolling start, which was soon carried out and released the pack of cars – all of them this time forced to run wets, rather than having the choice to use intermediates.

    From there, Verstappen mastered the switch from wets to intermediates as the track surfaced gradually improved and edged away at the head of the field, eventually crossing the line more than 20 seconds clear.

    Leclerc was on course to finish second, and to keep the title race alive, but he was penalised for cutting the final chicane on the final lap to keep a charging Perez at bay, with the points difference meaning Verstappen sealed the crown.

    Esteban Ocon took a fine fourth for Alpine after some fierce defending against Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, with Sebastian Vettel recovering from a clash with Fernando Alonso at the initial start to take P6 on his final Suzuka appearance.

    Alonso bolted on another set of intermediates in the closing stages to come home in P7, ahead of George Russell, Nicholas Latifi – who, along with Vettel, made an early switch from wets to intermediates – and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

    Daniel Ricciardo narrowly missed out on joining Norris in the points as he took P11, ahead of Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), home favourite Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) and Kevin Magnussen (Haas).

    Alfa Romeo pair Valtteri Bottas were P15 and P16 respectively, with Pierre Gasly 17th after a dramatic encounter that saw him start from the pit lane and pick up damage from an advertising board.

    That board was flicked onto the circuit after Sainz’s aforementioned accident, the Ferrari driver losing control of his car at the exit of the Turn 11 hairpin, which was followed by the Safety Car and a red flag being issued.

    Alex Albon was the other retirement, having clashed with Kevin Magnussen amid the spray on the opening lap and pulled off the track due to a technical issue brought on by the contact.

    Following a wet Friday and dry Saturday, dark clouds loomed over Suzuka on Sunday morning, with showers arriving in the build up to the race and ensuring a sodden track for the start.

    When the pit lane opened for the laps to the grid, drivers used a mixture of the wet and intermediate tyres to assess the conditions before settling on intermediates ahead of lights out – cars being sheltered under gazebos until then.

    One car absent was Gasly’s AlphaTauri, which took up a spot at the end of the pit lane after taking on a different specification rear wing and a change of front wing ballast after his difficult run to P17 in qualifying.

    When the action got under way, it was Leclerc who made the better start to get the nose of his Ferrari in front of Verstappen’s Red Bull on the run to the first corner, only for the Dutchman to swoop around the outside and keep his pole position advantage, while Perez got the jump on Sainz.

    Drama ensued behind, as Vettel slipped and slid his way to Turn 1 before banging wheels with Alonso amid the spray and running off the track – a moment that sent the retiring Aston Martin driver from the edge of the top 10 to the back of the field.

    Just a few corners later, Sainz also appeared to be caught out by aquaplaning as he dramatically crashed out at the exit of the Turn 11 hairpin, littering an advertising board on the circuit that was picked up by Gasly – damaging the Frenchman’s modified front wing.

    With Zhou going for a spin, Albon retiring due to contact with Magnussen and visibility at a premium, Race Control elected to send out the Safety Car and then throw a red flag shortly afterwards – the 18 runners lining up in the pits with two of 53 planned laps completed.

    At this stage, Verstappen, Leclerc and Perez held the top three positions, ahead of the squabbling Ocon, Hamilton, Alonso and Russell, with Ricciardo, home favourite Tsunoda and Schumacher occupying the final points-paying places.

    Rain continued to fall during the break, with the race clock paused at one hour and 55 minutes remaining, but the overall three-hour window continuing to tick down – leaving drivers and their teams to study the weather radar.

    Race Control initially communicated that the action would resume at 1450 local time in the form of a rolling start, adding that “there will be more than one lap behind the Safety Car” on wet tyres. However, at 1448 local time, this was suspended and the wait went on.

    Shortly after 1500, an hour on from the original start, the race clock resumed to offer a definitive cut-off point for the day’s proceedings – whether the action would get under way again or not, as rain continued to fall.

    As the delay wore on, the stewards summoned Gasly for an incident under the earlier red flag conditions, with the driver and a representative of his AlphaTauri team required to report to the panel and discuss the matter at 1800.

    After several track assessments from Safety Car driver Bernd Maylander, it was announced that the race would resume at 1615, with the main question now being whether enough ‘green’ laps could be completed to award points and, if so, how many.

    With just over 48 minutes left on the clock, Maylander led Verstappen and the rest of the field out of the pit lane, much to the delight of the fans in the grandstands who cheered them around.

    Hamilton was quick to take to the radio to state that “the track’s good”, while Ocon reported that “visibility is better so far”, and Leclerc added that “it’s not too bad for now”.

    Despite a follow-up message from Verstappen that suggested the rain was increasing, the Safety Car pulled into the pits with 40 minutes remaining and released the pack to go racing again.

    Verstappen mastered the restart to keep Leclerc at bay, as Vettel and Latifi took the opportunity to pit for intermediate tyres – heading out of their pit boxes side-by-side in an incident that was looked at by the stewards.

    While Verstappen and Leclerc pressed on up front, lapping significantly quicker than Perez and the cars behind, Norris and Bottas were the next to stop for intermediates, with Vettel also lighting up the timing screens.

    A lap later, the leaders filed into the pits to swap wets for intermediates, with only Alonso, Ricciardo, Schumacher and Zhou staying out on the extremes – the Alfa Romeo sitting between Verstappen and Leclerc at this point.

    With Schumacher up in the podium places, he was told by his engineer that Haas were “hoping for the Safety Car”, with Zhou also sticking with wets. Alonso and Ricciardo decided that enough was enough, though, and headed to the pits for intermediates.

    After the stops, Verstappen led Leclerc by five seconds, with Schumacher in P3 from Perez, Zhou and Ocon. Hamilton held seventh, ahead of the recovering Vettel, Alonso and Latifi – the early switches to intermediates paying off.

    Zhou proved that point as he pitted and rejoined at the back of the order, while Schumacher began to tumble down it as the only driver still on wets, lapping some 10 seconds off the pace.

    Schumacher eventually bailed out and made the switch of tyres to rejoin behind Zhou, while Verstappen and Leclerc – just as they had done on wets – built a buffer over third-placed Perez as the intermediate stints developed.

    Behind, Ocon was doing his best to keep Hamilton behind him with some smart defending, followed by Vettel, Alonso, Latifi, Russell and Norris – Russell completing impressive moves on Tsunoda and Norris to work his way back into the points.

    Several laps later, Russell made another move to take P8 from Latifi, with team mate Hamilton continuing to fill Ocon’s mirrors, but not quite managing to find a way past, despite several attempts.

    While Verstappen controlled proceedings up front, Perez began to close on Leclerc in the other Red Bull, as differing levels of degradation played out – Alonso, Stroll, Tsunoda, Zhou, Gasly all pitting for fresh sets of intermediates late on.

    Verstappen saw out the final few laps to take victory and, just a few moments later, that would become the World Championship, with Leclerc picking up a five-second time penalty for cutting the final chicane as he defended from Perez.

    With the pre-podium interviews already under way, Verstappen was told mid-conversation that he had won the title, adding to his 2021 crown, as Leclerc dropped to P3 behind Perez.

    Ocon finished half a second clear of Hamilton for P4, with Vettel sixth and denying Alonso by just 0.011s, with the Spaniard’s aforementioned second set of intermediates paying off handsomely.

    Russell’s sequence of moves were rewarded with P8, as Latifi and Norris completed the points – Ricciardo, Stroll and Tsunoda narrowly missing out in a train of cars that flashed past the pits.

    Magnussen had a quiet run to 14th after his early contact with Albon, followed by Alfa Romeo team mates Bottas and Zhou. Gasly and Schumacher were the final finishers after Sainz and Albon dropped out.

  2. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly furious over “unacceptable” tractor on track in Suzuka heavy rain. has the full details.

    Pierre Gasly was left furious after passing a tractor on track when returning to the pits under the red flag in the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, calling it “unacceptable.”

    Race control threw a red flag after just two laps at Suzuka on Sunday due to heavy rain that led to a couple of incidents on the opening lap, including a crash for Carlos Sainz exiting the hairpin.

    Gasly was the last driver to return to the pitlane under the red flag, but was seen getting animated with team member in the garage after getting out of his car.

    Onboard footage from the AlphaTauri car showed that Gasly passed a stationary tractor that was on the left-hand side of the track to recover Sainz’s car. Although the race had been red-flagged, Gasly was yet to return to the pits.

    “What is this tractor on track?” Gasly shouted on team radio. “I passed next to it. This is unacceptable. Remember what has happened. Can’t believe this.”

    It comes eight years after Jules Bianchi suffered severe head injuries when he collided with a recovery vehicle in heavy rain at Suzuka. Bianchi died as a result of the injuries nine months later.

    The incident led to widespread condemnation from many in the F1 community, including from GPDA director Alex Wurz, who said: “I think we need to discuss a tractor on-track. We can keep it short: this must NOT happen guys.”

    The FIA said the red flag was “due to worsening weather conditions and recovery operations required on-track.” The race is set to resume at 2:50pm local time in Japan (6:50am BST).

    In a short statement relating to the incident, the FIA said: “In relation to the recovery of the incident on Lap 3, the Safety Car had been deployed and the race neutralised. Car 10, which had collected damage and pitted behind the Safety Car, was then driving at high speed to catch up to the field.

    “As conditions were deteriorating, the Red Flag was shown before Car 10 passed the location of the incident where it had been damaged the previous lap.”

  3. The big talking point was the incident involving a recovery vehicle and an angry Pierre Gasly. Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz hit out at the Japanese Grand Prix tractor incident. has the news story.

    Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz have hit out after Pierre Gasly had a near miss with a recovery vehicle shortly after the start of the Formula 1 Japanese GP.

    Having started from the pitlane, Gasly collected a piece of advertising hoarding that flew off a barrier when Sainz crashed on the first lap, and was forced to pit for a new nose.

    A red flag then came out, and Gasly – running on his own – was shocked when he passed close to a tractor that had ventured out on track.

    The incident was not shown on TV at the time, but a video of it quickly spread on social media.

    Having viewed it during the red flag break Norris was quick to take to Twitter, referencing Jules Bianchi’s 2014 crash.

    He wrote: “Wtf. How’s this happened!? We lost a life in this situation years ago. We risk our lives, especially in conditions like this. We wanna race. But this… Unacceptable.”

    Having been shown the video by, Sainz echoed those sentiments.

    “What people don’t understand is that even behind the safety car going 100, 150kph, we don’t see anything,” said the Spaniard.

    “So even if there’s a crane on track and we are behind the safety car going 100kph, one driver could do a small mistake, a stupid mistake, go a bit offline, not remember that there’s a tractor there, and crash into a tractor. So why even risk it? I guess this is more our point.”

    When Autosport suggested that Gasly might be blamed by the FIA for going too fast Sainz said: “I think you don’t need to leave it to the luck of the driver. I think you are going to red flag the race anyway, why send a vehicle out?

    “Maybe wait a bit to bunch the field up, I don’t know, and go really slow. The driver is always going to in an extreme, try to put a bit of temperature in, in case the race gets restarted. It’s a tricky one, but yeah, quite risky.”

    Asked about his own accident Sainz admitted that having spun to a halt he was terrified about being hit by another car.

    “I had zero visibility already in fourth and trying to get out of the spray I went into a puddle on an intermediate tyre. That doesn’t evacuate as much water, and I went into a spin.

    “The worst part probably came later when I was in the middle of the track, spun, and I knew that everyone behind me was not going to see if I was there or not.

    “Not ideal for sure. There was 20 seconds where I didn’t know if I was going to get crashed, bracing and just expecting and hoping that my mates were either going to have good reflexes or good luck.”

    Asked if the race should have been started he said: “Laps to grid, there was very poor visibility but the track was in good conditions for inters and for doing the race.

    “But very poor visibility probably even for a race start. I talked to a few drivers who were starting 11th, 12th, around that area and they were saying they knew they were going to see nothing at the start.

    “We saw that it kept raining at the race start so we were all looking at each other like we’re all going to be on inters and there’s going to be zero visibility, and probably more complaining.”

    Red Bull’s Sergio Perez also weighed in on Twitter: “How can we make it clear that we never want to see a crane on track? We lost Jules because of that mistake.

    “What happened today is totally unacceptable! I hope this is the last time ever I see a crane on track!”

  4. The FIA stewards will investigate Pierre Gasly for speeding under a red flag amid anger over a stationary tractor on track in the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix.

    The race at Suzuka was suspended after just two laps due to heavy rain, which resulted in a number of incidents on the opening lap.

    A crash for Carlos Sainz at Turn 12 initially prompted a safety car before the red flag was thrown, with all cars returning to the pit lane.

    But before the field returned to the pits while circulating behind the safety car, a recovery vehicle was already stationary on track at Turn 12 in order to address Sainz’s car.

    Gasly was the last driver to pass the tractor, and was left furious over the radio that there was a vehicle on track while cars were still passing at speed.

    The FIA stewards have now announced via race control that they will investigate the incident involving Gasly on lap two at Turn 12 after the race.

    The stewards bulletin states this is for: “Alleged breach of Article 57.2 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations – Speeding under Red Flag Conditions.”

    “Car 10 reached speeds of up to 250 km/h when completing the lap under the red flag after passing the scene of the incident,” the bulletin adds.

    The red flag was shown just as Gasly approached the stationary tractor on track, but the stewards’ statement notes the speeding relates to the remainder of the lap once he had passed the incident site.

    Gasly went to see F1 race director Eduardo Freitas during the red flag stoppage about the incident. Under appendix H of the FIA’s International Sporting Code: “No marshal or vehicle shall enter the circuit perimeter without permission from race control.”

    Under Article 15.6 of the sporting regulations, the race director “must be in radio contact with the clerk of the course and the chairman of the stewards at all times when cars are permitted to run on the track.

    “Additionally, the clerk of the course must be in race control and in radio contact with all marshal’s posts during these times.”


  5. Why Max Verstappen was crowned champion despite shortened Japanese Grand Prix. provides the news story.

    Max Verstappen’s crowning as Formula 1 world champion at the Japanese Grand Prix came in hugely confusing circumstances as fans and media were left unsure about if he had done enough.

    With the Suzuka event not getting near to full distance because of bad weather, many believed that the Dutchman would not be awarded the points he needed to put the title beyond the reaches of nearest rivals Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.

    As a result of the washout at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, the FIA had made a big deal about a revised points structure that only awarded a certain percentage of the tally if races didn’t run all the way.

    Aimed specifically at ensuring that points would not be awarded for races that never got going under green flag conditions, the rules also laid out a new strict points tally for cases in which the grand prix did not reach full distance.

    For winning a race that had completed two laps but less than 25% race distance, a winner would get six points.

    For races that ran beyond 25% but not 50%, the winner would get 13 points, and for races that ran for 50% but not 75%, then it would be 19 points. Anything more than 75% was full points.

    With the Japanese GP running to 28 laps – just more than 52% – many had been under the impression that Verstappen would get 19 for his win, with Perez getting 14 for second and Leclerc 12 for third.

    If that were the case, then the final result in Suzuka, once Leclerc’s five-second penalty was applied, would have left Verstappen one point short of what he needed.

    However, the wording of the regulation does not cover all occasions when races do not go to full distance.

    Instead, it is specific that it only refers to races that have been stopped and cannot be restarted.

    Article 6.5 states at the top before explaining the different scenarios: “If a race is suspended in accordance with Article 57, and cannot be resumed, points for each title will be awarded in accordance with the following criteria…”

    The Japanese GP did not fall under this, however, because it ran to the chequered flag as it had hit the three-hour maximum event limit.

    That meant that the awarding of points was not dependent on the final distance covered.

    The FIA later clarified: “The rules regarding the reduced points allocation (article 6.5) only apply in the event of race suspension that cannot be resumed, and therefore full points are awarded and Max Verstappen is world champion.”

  6. The new 2022 champion Max Verstappen commented that the points confusion over Formula 1 world title win was “quite funny”. has the news story.

    Max Verstappen found the points confusion over his Japanese Grand Prix victory and second Formula 1 world championship win “quite funny” after the race at Suzuka.

    Verstappen clinched his second F1 crown in bizarre circumstances on Sunday, only learning that he was world champion during his parc ferme interview.

    This came after the FIA handed Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc a five-second time penalty for gaining an advantage off track in his last-lap battle with Sergio Perez.

    By dropping Leclerc from second to third, it meant Verstappen made a 10-point gain after full points were awarded despite only just reaching 50% race distance.

    Verstappen celebrated with his mechanics in parc ferme after learning he was champion, but could then be heard in the cool-down room saying he did not think he had won it.

    “During the race, I had no clue what they were going to decide with the points,” said Verstappen.

    “The main target was to win the race, but once I crossed the line, I was like OK, that was an amazing race, good points again, but not world champion yet.

    “When I did my interview after the race, then suddenly my mechanics started to cheer, and I was like, what’s going on? And then I realised Checo was second instead of Charles, but I still didn’t know if it was full points or half points or whatever, 75%, I don’t know how you do it.

    “But then you read through the rules, and [the FIA media delegate] came to me and he said that I was the world champion. So then we celebrated – and then people were telling me no, you’re still missing a point. I was like, that’s a bit weird.

    “But eventually, we had enough points, so then we were world champion again!”

    The confusion over the rules came after the FIA’s rewrite in the wake of last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, which awarded half points despite only completing two laps behind the safety car.

    As the regulation for reduced points only refers to races that cannot be resumed, the fact the Japanese Grand Prix reached its three-hour time limit despite only managing 28 of the planned 53 laps meant full points could be awarded.

    “To be honest, I don’t mind that it was a little bit confusing,” Verstappen said.

    “I find it actually quite funny, because at the end of the day, it’s not going to change the result.

    “When I crossed the line, it was anyway not enough, even if you would give full points. In that scenario, it wouldn’t have changed anything.”

    A number of F1 team figures including Verstappen’s Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, have suggested the rules may need reviewing in the future.

    Verstappen said there were “really complex situations” relating to races being suspended and resuming, and felt there needed to be a balance when it comes to the rulebook.

    “It’s the difference between if you finish a race or the race gets red flagged early on, and then you can’t continue,” said Verstappen.

    “There is of course a difference between the two. I do think that if you don’t write enough rules, it’s not good. If you write too many rules, it’s also not good.

    “It’s always hard to find a middle ground I think.”

  7. AlphaTauri racer Pierre Gasly feared for his life in Japanese Grand Prix tractor track incident. provides the news story.

    Pierre Gasly believes he would have been killed if he hit the tractor that was on the track during the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix.

    Gasly, who was given a 20-second penalty post-race for speeding under a red flag during the tractor on-track incident, says it was an unnecessary risk to have the vehicle recovering Carlos Sainz’s crashed Ferrari while the rest of the Formula 1 field was on track.

    Gasly hit advertising board debris from the Sainz crash and had to pit for a new front wing, which put him off the back of the pack behind the safety car. The AlphaTauri driver said he was sticking to his allowed delta lap time while catching up to the pack led by the safety car, and went by the tractor as the red flag was shown.

    The incident sparked memories of Jules Bianchi’s ultimately fatal crash in the wet 2014 Japanese GP, when he hit a crane recovering another F1 car, which triggered an overhaul of safety measures in racing.

    “We lost Jules eight years ago in similar conditions with a crane on track in the gravel,” Gasly told Autosport/ when asked about the incident. “I don’t understand how eight years later in similar conditions we can still see a crane, not even on the gravel but on the racing line.

    “It is just not respectful towards Jules, towards his family, towards his loved ones and all of us.

    “It was a dramatic incident and I think on that day we learned we don’t want to see any tractors in this kind of conditions.

    “If I would have lost the car in a similar way as Carlos lost it on the lap before… I was doing 200kph but it is not the matter, even 100kph, if I would have lost it and hit a 12-tonne crane, I would’ve been dead right now.

    “I am just extremely grateful that I am still standing and I am still going to be able to call my family tonight and still going to be able to call my loved ones and nothing happened.

    “But really for the sake of us drivers I hope that this can be the last time that we see a crane and take such an unnecessary risk for all of us race drivers.”

    Gasly explained that due to the track layout where Sainz had crashed and the conditions it meant he couldn’t see the tractor until very late.

    “It is a kink so you don’t really see it and there is a safety car, we have a delta lap time to respect and I was nine seconds slower than the delta lap time,” he said.

    “I am catching the queue and then I saw it at the last minute and when I see it I am doing 200kph. I tried to slow down in a erratic manner because if I slammed on the brakes I would’ve lost the car and I would’ve ended up in the crane. I came past two metres on the right, two metres away from passing away today which I don’t think is acceptable as a race driver.”

    Gasly wouldn’t go into detail about what he said to FIA F1 race director Eduardo Freitas during the red-flag stoppage but is certain the incident will be discussed to make changes in the future.

    “We were all in the pitlane a minute later. Risking my life for a minute, I don’t think that is acceptable,” he said. “We have a delta lap time, there is a certain process that we’ve got to follow under the safety car, I was respecting it and there was a crane on the racing line.

    “Today was two metres away from my front-left tyre, I obviously got extremely scared and what crossed my mind was… we all suffered from Jules’ accident and if we could go back and change the situation on that day, he would still be here.

    “I just don’t think we should have risked my life, but it is something we’ve got to discuss. The most important thing is for the future, what I want is just to have all my colleagues safe and all of us, whether it is in F1 or in the younger categories, hopefully nobody is going to have to face a similar situation. Hopefully we can finally learn from this situation.”

  8. Pierre Gasly has received a 20-second time penalty for red flag speeding during the Formula 1 Japanese GP, but the stewards noted his “shock” at the vehicle on-track.

    Gasly was summoned for a post-race hearing at Suzuka for allegedly reaching a speed over 250km/h under the red flag that was shown on lap two due to heavy rain and some on-track incidents.

    Gasly was left fuming that a recovery vehicle was allowed to be on the circuit while drivers were out in the wet conditions, saying after the race: “If I would have lost it and hit a 12-tonne crane, I would be dead right now.”

    The stewards’ summons noted that Gasly’s speeding occurred after he had passed the stationary recovery vehicle, which was tending to Carlos Sainz’s stricken Ferrari at Turn 12.

    In a bulletin issued after the race, the stewards handed Gasly a drive-through penalty for the speeding, which is converted into a 20-second time penalty.

    The AlphaTauri driver also receives two points on his FIA superlicence, taking him up to nine for a 12-month period.

    “After passing the scene of the incident, car 10 continued under the red flag situation, at speeds which exceeded 200 km/h on multiple occasions, and which reached 251 km/h at one point,” said the stewards.

    “The driver conceded that he now understood that there could have been marshals or obstacles on the track, and admitted that he was too fast.

    “However, in mitigation of penalty, we take into account that although the speed could not by any measure be regarded as ‘slow’ as required in the regulations, it was slower that the maximum speed that could be achieved under these conditions.

    “We also take into account the shock the driver experienced on seeing a truck on the racing line in the corner of the incident.”

    The penalty drops Gasly from 17th to 18th in the final classification, giving a position to Haas racer Mick Schumacher, who was the final driver to cross the line.


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