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FIA shambles eclipses Verstappen triumph for second year running - What we learned at the Japanese GP

FIA shambles eclipses Verstappen triumph for second year running - What we learned at the Japanese GP

F1 News

FIA shambles eclipses Verstappen triumph for second year running - What we learned at the Japanese GP

FIA shambles eclipses Verstappen triumph for second year running - What we learned at the Japanese GP

Max Verstappen's second F1 title-clinching victory was overshadowed by a scandal involving the FIA for the second successive year.

The Dutch driver secured a stunning Japanese Grand Prix victory to become the second-youngest two-time champion in F1 history.

But he was unaware of the feat until his initial post-race interview several minutes later due to a regulatory loophole in the points system.

With drivers and marshals also faced with a potentially deadly situation on track, the edge was rather taken off what should have been a celebration of Verstappen's extraordinary talent.

Here is what we learned at Suzuka.

Verstappen seals title in fitting manner

It was perfect that Verstappen sealed his second title in front of Honda's home fans in Japan.

It was perhaps even more fitting the style in which he won the race was emblematic of the utter dominance Verstappen has displayed in the last 20 months or so.

As close as the 2021 season was with Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen took 10 race victories out of 21. The Red Bull driver is on 12 race wins out of 18 for the current season, meaning he has a 56 per cent win rate since the start of last season.

The winning margin at Suzuka was 27 seconds to team-mate Sergio Perez, underlining just how far ahead the Dutchman is of the rest of the field, especially in wet weather conditions.

On a day when the sport was let down organisationally in a number of areas, including the calculation of Verstappen's title triumph, his coolness and sheer brilliance behind the wheel were the only certainties.

Ferrari furious over FIA inconsistency

Charles Leclerc had been second for the entire race and crossed the line ahead of Perez.

But the Monégasque was adjudged to have left the track and gained an advantage by the race stewards, with a penalty delivered within minutes of the chequered flag.

This enraged Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto, who was enraged in Singapore when a clear safety car breach from Perez was investigated post-race and a verdict not delivered until two hours after the chequered flag had fallen.

The lack of consistency in the FIA's decision-making has been ruffling feathers in the paddock all season long, but it seems Binotto is starting to crack.

It is worth pointing out, on a more general note, Leclerc was penalised despite entering the corner in the lead and actually losing time when cutting the chicane.

In contrast, Perez went unpunished for cutting Silverstone's Club corner when making a move on Leclerc at the British Grand Prix, despite gaining a position and pushing his rival off track.

The inability to be consistent across the board simply has to be ironed out for 2023.

Vettel proves retirement not for a lack of skill

If we needed any reminders Sebastian Vettel is not retiring because of waning talent, then Sunday was the race.

The German lost time at the original start when colliding with Fernando Alonso as he was unsighted in the spray, relegating him to last.

But a daring gamble to switch to intermediates immediately at the restart proved fruitful, allowing the Aston Martin driver to leap to sixth.

Alonso would extend his extreme wet stint and drop behind Vettel, before making another stop for fresh inters in the closing stages.

Lapping some four seconds per lap faster, the Spaniard scythed his way through the lower reaches of the top 10 and on the final lap of the race, latched on to Vettel.

Despite his ageing tyres, Vettel defended valiantly but Alonso drew alongside at the final chicane.

The duo rolled back the years to cross the line absolutely side-by-side, Vettel finishing ahead by only 0.011secs. A fitting way to bow out from his favourite race track.

Latifi earns memorable top 10

If there is one criticism nobody can make of Nicholas Latifi, it is his ability to secure a result when an opportunity is provided to him.

The Canadian outscored George Russell at the Hungarian Grand Prix last year to secure Williams' best finish in three years.

Whilst his struggles returned this season alongside Alex Albon, an opportunity for a strong qualifying was taken at Silverstone, where Latifi qualified into Q3.

In the tricky conditions at Suzuka, and using the same strategy as Vettel, Latifi found himself in the top 10.

With both McLarens stalking behind, it would have been predicted his position would not last, but to his credit, Latifi's pace was strong and he held on to ninth.

With his first points of the season - and potentially his last in F1 - Latifi found the perfect tonic to a difficult year.

FIA face storm over recovery vehicle

Pierre Gasly was left fuming over a near-miss with a recovery vehicle after Carlos Sainz's first-lap incident, evoking painful memories of the tragic crash which cost Jules Bianchi his life at the same venue eight years previously.

Such words as 'disrespect' and 'unacceptable' were bandied about by drivers after the race, and who can blame them?

It was appalling such a vehicle could be let onto the track with visibility so low, and there will no doubt be a backlash from drivers and teams in the coming weeks.

This must not happen again.

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