Formula 1 Japanese GP: Red Bull driver Max Verstappen on Sunday clinched his second Formula 1 title as the Dutch driver took the chequered flag with his rival Leclerc finishing third at the Japanese GP. The 25-year-old won the rain-hit race but it was all drama for the second spot between Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Red Bull's Sergio Perez. Leclerc held Perez to cross the line on second but he was later handed a 5-second penalty due to gaining an unfair advantage on the track. The penalty meant Perez took the second spot and Leclerc was pushed to third. With Leclerc finishing third, Verstappen has been crowned as the 2022 World Champion.
"The first one is a little more emotional, the second one is more beautiful. It's been a special year, and you need to remind yourself as these kinds of years you don't have very often," Verstappen said after the race.
As Leclerc crossed the line ahead of Perez and a penalty threat loomed over the former, it was not clear whether Verstappen has clinched the World title or not. The Dutchman also said, "It's a pretty crazy feeling, of course, because I didn't expect it when I crossed the line. Of course, you could see it slowly happening, but it's incredible at the end of the day that we did win it here," The Dutchamn added.
The 25-year-old Verstappen is now the 12th driver to win consecutive F1 World titles and is the second youngest after Sebastian Vettel to win back-to-back titles. Vettel achieved the feat in 2011 when he won his second title as a 24-year-old man.
The race was hit by rain. The initial laps witnessed racers crashing out of the race. Also, with minimal visibility on the track due to rain, the race was stopped after two laps. The original three-hour window time was ticking and the race was resumed after two hours. Only 29 laps were raced in the remaining 48 minutes. In the final stages of the Suzuka GP, the Dutchman crossed the line 27 seconds clear of the second-placed racer. It was a great battle between Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez. The former needed a second finish to keep the title hopes alive but Perez kept pushing his limits.
In the final corner, the Ferrari driver went off the track and gained an extra advantage on the next turn and held Perez at his tail to take the second spot. However, the matter was investigated and Leclerc was handed a 5-second penalty. This gave Perez the second position and Max Verstappen went 113 points clear of Sergio Perez and 114 of Leclerc to take the Championship. Now only 112 points are on offer in the next four races, and Verstappen has attained an unassailable lead.