Max Verstappen wrapped up the 2022 World title in Japan on Sunday but it was a race in which even Red Bull believed he was actually a point short of the title.
And it’s all because of a “mistake” in the wording of the regulations says his own team boss, Christian Horner.
After last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, a this-is-not-a-race in which two laps were covered behind the Safety Car in the pouring rain with the drivers awarded half points, Formula 1 took steps to tighten the regulations to avoid a repeat farce.
They didn’t do a very good job.
At a wet Japanese Grand Prix in which 28 of the 53 laps were completed, Verstappen took the chequered flag ahead of Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc.
That, according to pretty much everyone including Red Bull, meant points would be awarded for column 3 which governs 50 to 75 per cent of a race distance being covered.
Verstappen, although the race winner, was a point short of the title.
Minutes later, however, F1 announced he had won the World Championship as full points had been awarded because of the wording in the rule that says the columns only apply if a race “cannot be resumed”.
That the Japanese Grand Prix was run for two laps, stopped for two hours, and then run for 40 minutes meant it had been resumed.
Even Horner thinks it was “a mistake”.
“I think it’s a mistake that wasn’t included after the issues in Spa last year, that the regulations obviously haven’t been mopped up.
“We were under the strong impression that only with 75 per cent of the race, full points will be scored. So we felt we were going to be one point short.
“But in the end, Checo’s move on Charles nailed Max the championship. So you can see his surprise, the team’s surprise. But what a wonderful surprise.”
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The Red Bull team boss says it is something the teams and the FIA will have to revise for the future.
“I’m certain it will be,” he said.
Sunday’s result put Verstappen onto 366 points in the Drivers’ standings, 113 ahead of Sergio Perez, who leapfrogged Leclerc for P2, with only 112 still in play.