Japanese GP 2022 - Race: Max Verstappen Crowned Champion in Japan - Controversy at its finest
Max Verstappen took a comfortable win in Japan, securing his second World Title, ahead of Sergio Perez in P2 and Charles Leclerc in P3.
And then: Rain came. The 2022 Japanese Grand Prix will be remembered as one of the most controversial races of the 2022 season, and not because of the rain, even though many people described today's race as Spa 2.0.
Max Verstappen kept the lead of the race, staying ahead of Charles Leclerc at T1. At the same time, Carlos Sainz had a mid-lap crash, due to the deteriorating weather conditions, which caused mayhem.
A Safety Car was deployed, when at the same time, a tractor appeared in track, to collect the damaged car of Ferrari's Spaniard driver, ambushing many drivers who happened to pass through the scene, including Pierre Gasly.
The race was then red flagged, and resumed after 2 hours later, but the clock started ticking way before that, leaving only 42 minutes of track action.
Everyone returned to the circuit wearing extreme wet tyres, completing several laps behind the safety car, and then being released for a rolling start. Sebastian Vettel and Nicholas Latifi were the first drivers to immediately enter the pits to switch to intermediates, as conditions were getting better. After that, everyone else followed and emerged the pits as well, except for Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher.
After Alonso and Ricciardo making their own switch to inters, Mick Schumacher was left out on track, and lead the race for a few seconds, before Max Verstappen overtook him for P1. Just like that, the top 10 started to take a more stable form, as Max Verstappen disappeared ahead of Charles Leclerc, who finished with a 27 sec gap behind the Dutch driver.
At the same time, Sergio Perez was reeling into him, towards the closing stages of the race, and pushed, to force a mistake out of the Monegasque. And he did. At the last lap of the race, Leclerc lost the brakes of the last chicane of T16-17, exiting the track and gaining an advantage on Perez. The FIA decided, fairly, to award a 5 sec penalty to Leclerc, who ended up in P3, making Verstappen World Champion.
A bit further back, Esteban Ocon fended Lewis Hamilton off for P4, who was in "pit window" for a long time, but with DRS disabled, due to the deteriorating weather conditions, Mercedes' nonexistent straight line speed wasn't enough to let him pass.
Full Race Classification Soon...