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Max Verstappen crowned 2022 F1 world champion amid Japanese GP confusion after winning wet race

Max Verstappen clinches second drivers' title in confusing fashion in Japan; it was initially believed full points would not be awarded for shortened race, but they were and Charles Leclerc's post-race penalty gave Verstappen championship with four races remaining

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After a confusing finish, Johnny Herbert is the person to reveal to Max Verstappen that he has become 2022 F1 drivers' world champion

Max Verstappen has clinched his second Formula 1 world championship in confusing circumstances after winning a rain-shortened Japanese GP.

Verstappen, needing to outscore Charles Leclerc by eight points and Sergio Perez by six at Suzuka, dominated in the wet conditions and a late penalty for Leclerc sealed the title with four races of the 2022 season remaining.

That coronation, though, was shrouded in doubt after the race as it was initially believed full points would not be awarded, as only 29 laps were completed of the planned 53-lap race due to heavy rain and a long red flag.

With between 50 per cent and 75 per cent of the laps completed, Red Bull and most of the F1 paddock thought Verstappen would only be awarded 19 points for his victory.

But for the Japanese GP there was a different interpretation of the rules, which state that the reduced points are only applied if a race is suspended "and cannot be resumed".

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Ted Kravitz explains how the confusing finish to the Japanese Grand Prix led to Max Verstappen becoming two-time world champion

With the race finishing in the allotted three-hour window, full points were awarded, and a five-second penalty for Leclerc after the race - for gaining an advantage at the final corner - dropped him from second to third behind Perez and handed Verstappen the title.

Verstappen, who did not know he had won the championship when he crossed the line, now joins a pantheon of greats to have claimed back-to-back F1 crowns.

Also See:

The youngest double F1 world title winners

Driver Age Year
1) Sebastian Vettel 24 years, 99 days 2011
2) Max Verstappen 25 years, 9 days 2022
3) Fernando Alonso 25 years, 85 days 2006
4) Michael Schumacher 26 years, 293 days 1995
5) Emerson Fittipaldi 27 years, 299 days 1974
6) Niki Lauda 28 years, 202 days 1977
7) Jim Clark 29 years, 137 days 1965
8) Lewis Hamilton 29 years, 321 days 2014
9) Ayrton Senna 30 years, 215 days 1990
10) Mika Hakkinen 31 years, 33 days 1999

"The first one is a little more emotional, the second one is more beautiful," said Verstappen.

"It's been a special year, and you need to remind yourself as these kind of years you don't have very often."

He added to Sky Sports F1: "It's a pretty crazy feeling, of course, because I didn't expect it when I crossed the line. Of course, you could see it slowly happening, but it's incredible at the end of the day that we did win it here.

"I didn't know how many points I was going to get."

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner was full of praise for Max Verstappen after the Dutchman clinched his second world championship at the Japanese Grand Prix

Verstappen, 25, is the 12th driver to clinch consecutive titles and is the second youngest to do so, after Sebastian Vettel (2010-11).

Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton are the only other drivers to have managed the feat in the 2000s.

Verstappen follows up 2021 controversy with F1 domination

Schumacher and Nigel Mansell are the only drivers in F1 history to have won the title earlier than Verstappen.

The Dutchman claimed his first title in 2021 in hugely-controversial circumstances against Hamilton, but his defence has been much more dominant after Red Bull aced 2022's new rules with their car.

Despite a rocky start to the season with two retirements in the first three rounds, Verstappen chased down and stormed ahead of Ferrari's Leclerc, and has won 12, two thirds, of the season's 18 races.

The record for most race wins in a season is 13.

"We came back from some difficulties in the first couple of races, but he and the team have just raised it to another level," Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1.

Technical chief Adrian Newey added: "Max has been absolutely superb this year.

"In the traffic in Singapore he made a little mistake, but apart from that he's made no mistakes and he's always had the speed. He thoroughly deserves all the success he's having this year."

Red Bull are also well on track for their first drivers' and constructors' championship double since 2013, now 165 points ahead of Ferrari.

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