Max Verstappen capped a great Formula One season with a similar performance at the Japanese Grand Prix to win his second straight championship.
Verstappen’s victory earned him a place in the record books as one of F1’s most dominant championship wins.
Only Michael Schumacher (2001 and 2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2011) have won a championship with four races remaining.
Verstappen led the race at Suzuka from start to finish but didn’t think he had won the championship after taking the checkered flag.
There was confusion at the end of the race as Verstappen didn’t think he had won the championship.
“Yes, of course it’s an amazing feeling because I didn’t expect it when I crossed the finish line,” said Verstappen after the race.
“You could see it happening slowly. It’s incredible that we won here.”
The confusion stemmed from how many points would be awarded in a race that didn’t complete the full distance.
F1 rules state that limited points are awarded when a race is red flagged and cannot continue – although the race was red flagged at Suzuka it was continued on track to the end, which was means that full points were awarded.
In the final laps, Verstappen asked Red Bull on his race radio if he should buy new tires to get the extra point for the fastest lap.
“I didn’t know if it would be half points? I didn’t know how many points I would get. The distance just wasn’t safe enough for an extra stop.”
As it turns out, Verstappen won his title thanks to teammate Sergio Perez, who was elevated above Charles Leclerc shortly after the race.
Leclerc ran too far in the final corner to defend against Perez and then forced the Mexican rider too far as they sped towards the finish line, earning him a five-second penalty.
While Verstappen’s first title after the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the subject of controversy, his second looked like an inevitability for several months.
Verstappen’s win was his 12th this season – Schumacher and Vettel hold the combined record for most wins in a season at 13.
The F1 season concludes with races in the US, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi meaning the Dutch driver has a chance to break the record.
https://www.espn.com/f1/story/_/id/34758504/max-verstappen-wins-f1-title-four-races-spare Max Verstappen wins F1 title with four races to spare