Max Verstappen becomes 2 x WDC with 4 races remaining!

Max Verstappen, 2 x World Drivers Champion with 4 races and 112 points remaining

After the Dutch Grand Prix, I wrote about how the 2022 season is looking like a damp squib, and five weeks later, with four races remaining, Max Verstappen has become a 2-time world champion with a potential 112 points remaining, it seems we’ve exchanged Mercedes dominance for Red Bull dominance.

I don’t want to take anything away from Max Verstappen, he is clearly one of the best drivers on the current grid, I’d say that only Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton are his equals. But, the reality is it’s the car that makes a world champion. Mercedes have not been near wins this season, and Ferrari has made mistakes, costing Leclerc points, but in recent races have been off the pace of Red Bull in race trim.

As the Japanese Grand Prix ended, it was thought that the title battle would go onto the US Grand Prix in two weeks’ time with Leclerc finishing second on the road, and half points were thought to be awarded. But while Johnny Herbert was conducting the post-race interviews, it was announced that Max was the world champion as news broke that Leclerc had been handed a 5-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage at the final chicane, promoting Sergio Perez up to 2nd place.

Even in the cool-down room, there was some confusion on whether Verstappen was the champion or not, because of the points situation, with just a little over half the race distance being run. But the FIA interpretation of the rule is that reduced points would only be awarded if the race is suspended and cannot be resumed. This was obviously not the case, as the race finished under green flag conditions meaning full points were awarded, making Verstappen a 2-time world drivers champion.

As a neutral, there is nothing to add, other than I’m disappointed to see another championship decided with multiple races remaining, this is not what the pinnacle of motorsport should be in my opinion.

Aside from the race result, during the safety car period and red flag, while drivers were still on the track, out of the gloom, Pierre Gasly came across recovery vehicles on the track seconds after the red flag as he was catching up to the back of the pack due to pitting for full wet tires. This is particularly jarring as it was eight years ago that Jules Bianchi crashed in similar circumstances, which sadly led to his passing nine months later, and like Bianchi, the FIA blamed the driver, in this case, Gasly for going too fast.

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