How the 2022 season played out: F1i's Top 10 Moments

Championship success catches Verstappen by surprise

Back on the track, Max Verstappen's march to his second consecutive title continued. Arriving in Singapore with 341 points compared to Charles Leclerc's 237 was his first chance of actually clinching the title, albeit a remote one depending on a certain combination of outcomes. Far from taking the win he needed, he ended up P7 after having to make an extra pit stop after flat-spotting his tyres following a safety car restart. Moreover the race was won by Sergio Perez with Charles Leclerc second, keeping both of his rivals mathematically in contention for the title.

The next race was Japan, and again the fate of the title was in his reach. This time Verstappen did what was required of him, and he won the race outright ahead of his rivals. And yet as he toured back to parc ferme he knew that he was still short of sealing the title, because the race had been limited to 28 laps. It meant that only half points would be awarded. Leclerc, having finished in second place, was still just close enough in the points standings to catch him in the remaining four races, unlikely as it now looked.

When he was interviewed after the race by Martin Brundle, he was bemused by the Sky Sports F1 commentator telling him that he had just clinched the title. Verstappen tried to correct him, and then found that Brundle really did know what he was talking about. A quirk of how the current rules and regulations were worded (after being amended following the embarrassing 2021 Belgian non-race) meant that contrary to the FIA's intention, the letter of the law meant full points would be awarded after all. And meanwhile Leclerc had been handed a five second post-race penalty dropping him to third place in the final classification. The title fight really was over.

It was a messy and confusing way to finish things off, but gradually it sank in and the team started to celebrate. Two weeks later, victory in the United States GP meant that Red Bull also wrapped up the constructors championship for the first time since 2013. Sadly, in the intervening period, word had come through that the team's founder and co-owner, and its most passionate and devoted fan Dieter Mateschitz, had passed away at the age of 78. It cast a long shadow over what should have been the squad's proudest moment.