Ralf Schumacher criticises FIA over lack of Japanese GP points communication

Jon Wilde
Max Verstappen with the winner's trophy. Suzuka October 2022.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen walks off the podium holding the trophy. Japan October 2022.

Ralf Schumacher has criticised the lack of communication over the points allocation for the Japanese Grand Prix where Max Verstappen became a double World Champion.

Even though only 28 of the scheduled 53 laps were completed at Suzuka due to rainy conditions, full points were awarded due to the wording of the relevant ruling.

Instead of Verstappen receiving 19 points for his win because 50-75% of the total distance had been completed, he received the full 25 points as the race ran to the chequered flag at the end of the three-hour window rather than being halted by a red flag and not restarted.

Team bosses, including Alpine’s sporting director Alan Permane, admitted that had not been the intention when they had helped to redraft the rule ahead of this season but it had nevertheless slipped through.

The awarding of full points, coupled with a post-race penalty for Charles Leclerc that dropped him from second to third, meant Verstappen was confirmed as champion with four races of the season to spare.

Schumacher, in his post-race column for Sky Germany, understandably said the confusion over the scoring system had reflected badly on the sport at one of the highest-profile moments of a season – the crowning of that year’s champion.

“If you take a look at the paragraph [of the rulebook], you could almost speak of fool’s freedom or arbitrariness,” said the winner of six grands prix for Williams between 2001 and 2003.

“That is basically not a problem. The FIA can make the decision at any time, but then you could at least put that out so people all over the world don’t have to do the maths.

“They could have said straight away ‘we’ll count it as a full race’. Then it could have been dealt with.

“But the way it went down on Sunday was not good. For everyone involved, including the [Red Bull] team themselves, it was incomprehensible until the end why Verstappen was World Champion in the first place.

“He and those responsible around, Christian Horner and Helmut Marko, were surprised themselves.”

What caused the confusion over the points allocation in Japan?

The 2022 points system was revamped for shortened races after the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, which was aborted without a racing lap having been completed and yet half points were awarded.

To avoid that scenario being repeated in the future, a different method was introduced to allocate points on more of a pro-rata basis – but that only applies “if a race is suspended and cannot be resumed”.

As the Japanese GP did restart and ran as long as it could under the time-limit rule, there was nothing specific in the regulations to cater for that eventuality – and so the FIA decided to award full points, which was the “arbitrariness” to which Schumacher referred.

Read more – Christian Horner: F1 have made ‘a mistake’ with revised points system