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Max Verstappen Retains World Title in Japan

Max Verstappen sealed his second Formula 1 (F1) championship by beating Checo Perez and Charles Leclerc to victory in a dramatic Japanese Grand Prix.

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After a consistent season with a total of 12 wins, and still four more races to go, the Red Bull driver has renewed his world title becoming world champion for the second time. 

“What can I say? Incredible, of course! It’s very special also to do it here, in front of all the Honda people, all the Japanese fans,” said Max Verstappen speaking to Sky Sports. 

Not afraid of drama, Verstappen won in controversial circumstances, with the championship only being decided after uncertainties about how many points were won for the race which reached half distance.

It was only during the post race interviews, after race control decided to sanction Charles Leclerc with a 5 second penalty, that the Monegasque could no longer win the title, giving Verstappen his victory.

Just as last year the title was decided in the last lap, but this time by the two championship contenders, Leclerc and Perez. They were fighting for second and third position in the race. Each lap Perez closed the gap to Leclerc in front, but during the final lap, Leclerc cut the final chicane gaining an unfair advantage over Perez.

Race control looked into the action, sanctioning Leclerc with a 5 second penalty, moving him down to third position. It was this action that would ultimately allow Verstappen to become world champion in round 18 of the championship.

The quantity of points to be distributed to the teams was unclear due to rain delay in the race. Neither Max, Red Bull nor Mercedes could believe it, meaning they all had to verify the FIA regulations. According to the regulation, since it was a resumption of the race, full points were distributed. The Dutchman ended round 18 with 366 points (leading by 112 points), becoming world champion.

Rain delays, Bianchi’s memory

The Japanese Grand Prix was delayed for an hour due to the weather conditions. The race started with Leclerc gaining an advantage over Verstappen, who span in the start. By the end of the first curve Max had passed Leclerc around the outside and led the race. Carlos Sainz crashed into the wall, causing the yellow flag to fall and safety car to be released. 

A tractor went into the circuit, in order to remove Sainz’s Ferrari car, while there were still drivers on the track. Due to the lack of visibility and the track conditions, the tractor posed a danger to the drivers were they to crash in the wet conditions. As a circuit that is scarred by the tragic lost of Jules Bianchi in 2014, this caused upset among drivers.

“What is this tractor on track? I passed next to it. This is unacceptable. Remember what has happened. Can’t believe this,” said Pierre Gasly on team radio. 

The FIA stated the following: “In relation to the recovery of the incident on Lap 3, the Safety Car had been deployed and the race neutralized.” 

At the end of the third lap, the red flag was displayed due to the weather, and the incidents with just completing one lap without the safety car. 

The race restarted 90 minutes later in a rolling start procedure, with a 40 minutes race. It was resumed on lap three behind the safety car.

Other notable battles include Hamilton’s fight for fourth with Ocon, but the Mercedes driver wasn’t able to gain the position. 

Vettel finished sixth with Alonso close behind in seventh, followed by George Russell and Nicholas Latifi who pitted twice. Rounding off the points was the McLaren of Lando Norris. Yuki Tsunoda didn’t score, ending thirteenth at his home grand prix. 

Formula 1 will be back in Austin at the Circuit of The Americas on 23rd October. There are still four more races to go in which the constructors championship will be decided.


  • Ana Rodriguez-Martinez

    Ana Rodríguez is a 22 years old bilingual journalist (Spanish and English). Writer for the Sports Gazette. Looking forward to make a career in motorsports broadcasting casting, concretely F1 and MotoGp. Experience working with Purdue University Athletics Communication department, and "La Voz de Galicia".