Mattia Binotto accepts FIA interpretation of points rule, but calls for future review

Michelle Foster
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto in the garage with headphones and a quirky look. Montreal June 2022

Mattia Binotto says he’ll accept “the way the FIA interpreted” the points rule at the Japanese Grand Prix, but has called for a review of the regulation.

Max Verstappen lined up on pole position at the Suzuka circuit on Sunday with a simple task, all he had to do was win the grand prix and take the fastest lap point and he’d retain the World title.

But it seemed his coronation was on hold when only 28 of the 53 laps were run, the race red flagged on the second lap after multiple incidents in the rain on the opening lap which included a big crash for Carlos Sainz.

Resuming after a stoppage of more than two hours, it was a timed grand prix with Verstappen storming to the victory by more than 27 seconds ahead of Sergio Perez with Charles Leclerc P3 having been hit with a post-race penalty.

Verstappen was, according to all the calculators in the paddock, a point shy of the title.

But a few minutes later Formula 1 announced that he had won the title as full points were awarded for the grand prix, Verstappen 113 ahead of Perez with only 112 still in play.

That caused much confusion as it was thought the grand prix fell into column 3 of the points rule, the column that governs what points are scored if more than 50 but less than 75 per cent of the race is run.

However, before going in the breakdown of the columns, Article 6.5 has the words “cannot be resumed” in the mix, and given that the Japanese Grand Prix was restarted, the columns no longer apply.

“We were confused, and we thought it would not have been the full awards,” Binotto said as per Motorsport.com. “So initially, our calculations were such that he was not World Champion.

“At the end, a clarification has been given which is an okay clarification. So I think it’s simply accepted. That’s the way it is.

“He is World Champion. It’s clear enough.”

But even when Verstappen spoke with Sergio Perez and Leclerc in the cool down room before the podium celebrations, the Red Bull driver was himself still confused about the situation.

Binotto says the wording of the rules is something that Formula 1 needs to review.

“I need to double check with our sporting guys: what was the clear understanding, and what has been the conclusion and the way that it has been written and interpreted compared to the intention,” he said.

“It’s a detail, and it’s something we need to clarify as well for the future what is the true intention, what should you do and it’s clear enough.

“But I’m not too concerned, I’m not too disappointed by it.

“I accept the way the FIA has interpreted it, and let’s review, let’s discuss, but I will not go to any conclusion on that.”

Even Verstappen’s team boss Christian Horner concedes the way the rule was written is a “mistake” that needs to be cleared up.

McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl agrees.

“In the end, how the points were awarded today wasn’t what we all had in mind,” he said. “That wasn’t the intention from the FIA and the team side.

“But in the end, it seems like we all overlooked this loophole, and therefore we are all responsible for that. It means we must try to do together a better job next time.”

Read more: FIA explain how Max Verstappen was able to clinch World Championship in Japan