Oracle Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen is a two-time Formula One world champion after taking victory in a chaotic rain-shortened Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit on Sunday. The race was delayed by over two hours after being red-flagged.
Speaking following the race, Verstappen commented saying:
“This is crazy! To win here in Japan is really special, I feel really proud that we could do it here. When I crossed the line, I didn’t know that I was World Champion, there was a lot of confusion but I thought it was quite funny. The first Championship was very emotional and this time it feels very different, it feels even more beautiful because of the season we’ve had. The teamwork has been unreal, we kept on pushing, kept on believing and kept on improving the car. As a Team we’ve made very few mistakes, you can’t be perfect but for most of the races we were close to it. Working together with Honda has been incredible and of course a lot of my thanks goes out to the Team here at track, back at the factory and everyone that’s been contributing with the Red Bull Powertrains division. Everyone has been working flat out and has a huge amount of motivation. Checo has been an incredible teammate and now the full focus is on the Constructors Championship. Let’s see what we can do in Austin.”
When the race finally got underway it was a timed event that saw Max Verstappen dominate the race with just one corner to go, Charles Leclerc ran wide and was deemed to have gained an advantage over Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez meaning the Ferrari had to give back the place ending the race with a Red Bull 1-2 with Leclerc in third.
Speaking following the race, Perez commented saying:
“I am very proud of what Max has done this season; 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, the way he drove in some races was unbelievable. It is a massive day for the Team, to do this in Japan in front on Honda and with 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. It was a great battle with Charles today, it was nice that we got to race because at one point we though we wouldn’t get to. It was a fantastic fight and we were pushing him hard towards the end, it was so difficult to overtake without DRS but I kept the pressure on, he made the mistake and he got the penalty to give me P2.”
Red Bull Racing CEO and Team Principal Christian Horner said:
“What a race! Coming to the end, we were not sure we would be awarded full points, but to finish like that is beyond all of our wildest dreams. Max was truly dominant, he has been all season, but he was driving on a different planet today, finishing nearly 27 seconds in front of everyone else is an unreal effort which encapsulates his season perfectly. That is our 14th victory which is a record for the team and exemplifies how he and the team have raised it to the next level at every race. We are incredibly proud of and grateful for all the hard work put in by him and the team, both here and in Milton Keynes and all our partners for helping to make it happen. To achieve this Championship is truly special and to do it here in Japan with Honda makes it even more special. Checo has also had an incredible run, his season has been equally impressive. He is 2nd in the Championship and we are all working hard to keep him there. Equally, we are working to bring home the Constructor Championship after eight long years. So the season isn’t over by a long shot, there is still a lot of racing still to do and we are looking forward to getting back to it in Austin.”
Verstappen ended the race over 27s ahead of Perez and by being awarded the full 25 points he ensured he could claim his second consecutive Drivers Championship as he heads to Austin in two weeks’ time 113 points ahead of Sergio Perez.
Esteban Ocon had a great race for Alpine as he came home in fourth place just ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
George Russell was eighth for Mercedes just ahead of Nicholas Latifi who picked up two valuable points for the Williams team while Lando Norris rounded out the top ten. Daniel Ricciardo was 11th in the second McLaren.
Lance Stroll was 12th just ahead of Yuki Tsunoda and Kevin Magnussen. Valtteri Bottas was 15th for Alfa Romeo Racing just ahead of his team-mate Guayne Zhou.
Pierre Gasly and Mick Schumacher rounded out the order while Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon were the only retirements from the race.
There was controversy in the race as a tractor went onto the track to recover a car while the race was still going and Pierre Gasly narrowly avoided the vehicle speaking to the media following the race he said that it was disrespectful to Jules Bianchi and his family as the incident happened at the same track and under the same weather conditions as Jules Bianchi’s crash in 2014.
Gasly was later penalized by the FIA for speeding during the incident.