Verstappen Wins 2nd World Championship!

Max Verstappen wins his twelfth race of the year and his second world championship.  When the race was red flagged at lap three, we all thought we would have to wait until the United States Grand Prix to see him crowned for a second time.  We were all wrong.


For the second week in a row, Formula 1 drivers had to endure wet, rainy conditions throughout the race.  Unlike last week in Singapore, the race started on time.  As the grid took off, Charles Leclerc appeared to have the edge on Verstappen.  However, Verstappen took the lead heading into turn one and held on to it.  Further back, Sebastian Vettel spun out at turn one but rejoined the race.  As the grid made its way thru the track, Carlos Sainz aquaplaned, spun out and wrecked into the barrier.  Thankfully no one hit him as he was spinning.  He hit the barrier hard enough to loosen a Rolex sign which flew across the track and hit Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri.  He carried the sign on his front wing all the way to pit lane.  Racing control red-flagged the race during lap three of the yellow flag, ultimately delaying the race just over two hours.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, center, of the Netherlands leads the field at the start of the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

At first it seemed racing was about to resume 30 minutes after the red flag flew.  However, racing control suspended the restart after the drivers, and teams were set to hit the track.  Racing finally resumed with 39 minutes left in the three-hour window allotted to finish the race.  It was a rolling restart and Verstappen immediately started to separate himself.  However, over the next few laps the lower half the grid started to change from the extreme wet weather tire to the intermediate tire.  With 35 minutes to go, Verstappen and Sergio Perez pitted to change their tires.  After the grid reset, the top three drivers were the same as the qualification results: Verstappen, Leclerc and Perez.  Over time, the rooster tails of water trailing the cars began to fade as the track slowly dried out.


Leclerc would need to either achieve fastest lap or win the race outright in order for him to delay Verstappen from being crowned this season’s champion.  After Verstappen achieved the fastest lap, Leclerc quickly took the fastest lap.  Then, Perez started putting the pressure on Leclerc as Verstappen built on his lead.  Then, with about eight minutes left in the race, Zhou Guanyu set the fastest lap.  Still, all Leclerc had to do was finished second in the race to continue to compete for the championship.  However, Verstappen continued to pull away from Leclerc.  With one lap to go, Verstappen was 25 seconds ahead of Leclerc, and Perez was less than half of a second behind Leclerc.  Checo really turned up the heat on Leclerc.  He never let up. During the last lap on the last corner Leclerc went off the track, gained an advantage and continued back on the track ahead of Checo.  Leclerc was penalized five points for that error, however the penalty was not assessed right away.  As the drivers were being interviewed, Max found out he won the championship.  It was an extremely awkward moment that Leclerc and Verstappen handled with grace.  But for Sergio Perez’s excellent driving, Verstappen’s second championship would have been delayed at least another week.

Winner Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, second right, of the Netherlands poses with second placed teammate Sergio Perez, third right, of Mexico and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, right, of Monaco on the podium during the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Toru Hanai)

With the Porsche deal falling thru, Red Bull has renewed its relationship with Honda.  Winning the race and the championship in Japan will always be a special moment for Honda and Red Bull.  I think we can all expect that this relationship will net a few more championships for Max Verstappen.


Max Verstappen has now tied Fernando Alonso for race wins and championships.  They both have 32 wins and they both have two Formula One Championships.  He just turned 25 and there are still four races to go in the season.  Red Bull will now work to secure the Constructors Championship.  See you at the race in Texas!

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