Verstappen says he found title confusion 'quite funny'

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates winning the World Championship with the team. 09.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 18, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race
© XPB 

It might not have been quite the way he pictured clinching his second Formula 1 world championship, but Max Verstappen said he found the confusion at the end of the Japanese Grand Prix quite funny.

When he crossed the line at Suzuka, Verstappen knew he had scored an emphatic 12th race victory of the season. But he believed that it still hadn't been enough to seal the title.

It looked like Charles Leclerc had finished second to keep the battle mathematically alive heading into the United States GP. Red Bull were also expecting only half points to be awarded for the shortened race today after rain caused a two-hour delay.

But even as Verstappen started his post-race interview with Sky Sports F1's Johnny Herbert, word was filtering down that Leclerc had been demoted to third after running wide on the final lap

That would still have left verstappen a point short of making certain of the title. But then more news filtered through that the FIA had decided that full points applied after all.

The resulting 114 point lead over Leclerc with just four races remaining meant that Herbert was on hand to tell Verstappen live on TV that he had won the title, much to the driver's astonishment.

"Are you sure?" he said, thinking that Herbert must have made a mistake. But it turned out that the former F1 driver was right on the money, although Verstappen still took some convincing.

Max Verstappen on the podium after the Japanese GP in Suzuka - Sunday, October 9 2022

© Red Bull Racing

"During the race, I had no clue what they were going to decide with the points," he admitted in the official post-race press conference. "The main target was to win the race.

"But once I crossed the line, I was like - okay, 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?

"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 per cent, I don't know how you do it.

"Then you read through the rules, and Tom [Wood, 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," he admitted. "But eventually, we had enough points, so then we were world champion again!"

Verstappen insisted that the uncertainty hadn't soured the moment for him when he became one of the sport' few multiple title winners.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates with girlfriend Kelly Piquet (BRA) in parc ferme. 09.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 18, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race

"To be honest, I don't mind that it was a little bit confusing," he insisted. "I find it actually quite funny, because at the end of the day, it's not going to change the result."

That reflected the reality of the fact that the best Leclerc could have done would have been to extend the championship battle by a further race. beyond that it was almost impossible to imagine a scenario in which Verstappen didn't win.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says the rules regarding reduced points for shortened races needed to be reviewed.

"It's the difference between if you finish a race, or the race gets red flagged early on and then you can't continue," Verstappen said. "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," he added. "It's always hard to find a middle ground I think."

Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen after the Japanese GP in Suzuka - Sunday, October 9 2022

© Red Bull Racing

Verstappen's team mate Sergio Perez applauded the achievement of becoming a two-time champion.

“I am very proud of what Max has done this season," said the Mexican, who has himself won two races this season in Monaco and Singapore. "He has stepped up as a driver.

“I was fighting with him in the beginning but then halfway through the year he moved into another gear," Perez added. "The way he drove in some races was unbelievable.

“It is a massive day for the team, to do this in Japan in front of Honda," he pointed out. "And a one-two is incredible.

"Hopefully soon we are able to secure the constructors championship for our team. That will be massive. I am massively looking forward to the rest of the year."

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