Verstappen: Second world title a “crazy feeling”
Dutch Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen said the turmoil after a confusing finish to the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on Sunday led to some intense ups and downs. Verstappen won the race by a wide margin, and a time penalty issued against Charles Leclerc at the end put Sergio Perez in second, and Leclerc in third. Once it was clear that all points would be awarded for the rain-shortened race, Verstappen secured the Formula 1 driver’s championship title for the second consecutive season.
“It's crazy, mixed emotions. Winning the race, but looking back - what a year we've had, it's been incredible. I'm so thankful to everyone who has worked so hard. The work we've done together with Honda, to win twice with them is so emotional, especially here. I'm very proud we could do it here,” Verstappen said after the race.
A spin-out crash in early in the race brought the red flag out in the third lap. Heavy rain continued at the Suzuka Circuit, forcing a one-hour delay to the restart. Once the race got back underway, drivers still had to contend with poor visibility.
Verstappen managed to hold on to his lead, and then continued to extend the distance between himself, and Leclerc and Perez who battled for second. The duration of the race was shortened, but Verstappen still won by over 27 seconds. He brought home all 25 points for the first place finish as the race was not suspended, but continued on to a definitive conclusion.
“It's a crazy feeling of course as I didn't expect it when I crossed the line. Was it going to be half points? I didn't know how many points I was going to get. I was happy with the race we had!” Verstappen exclaimed.
"We thought we were one point short, we didn't think full points were being awarded," said Christian Horner, the Red Bull Team Principal. Of his top driver, Horner said, “He's just grown, carrying that Number One this year, he's done it with a lot of pride. To do it with four races to go... We'll get together as a team to celebrate, we'll probably save it until after the constructors', then we'll get everyone together and do it in style.”
“The first one is a little more emotional, the second one is more beautiful,” Verstappen said after securing the second championship title. “Just the season we've had, the 1-2's, leading the constructors'. It's been a special year, and you need to remind yourself as these kind of years you don't have very often.”
Red Bull is still working towards winning the Constructors’ Championship. With four races to go, in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, and Abu Dhabi, many analysts think it is more a question of when Red Bull will win, and not if the team will take the trophy. Red Bull stands in front with 619 points. Ferrari is in a distant second place with 454, followed by Mercedes with 387.