After failing at the first opportunity at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, Max Verstappen successfully claimed his second World Drivers’ Championship on Sunday at the Japanese Grand Prix, in what was an unsurprisingly imperious performance.
The Dutchman actually had a bad launch from the line, but excellently went around the outside of Charles Leclerc at Turn One to maintain the race lead.
Verstappen, who had a clear track ahead of him, gingerly led the entire field through the opening lap, whilst the heavy rain caused chaos behind.
Carlos Sainz crashed from third place at Turn 12 on the first lap, after aquaplaning over one of the many rivers that ran across the Suzuka International Racing Course.
The crash brought out the Safety Car immediately, which led the field round on the second lap, before the race was then red-flagged for a considerable amount of time.
It was discovered during the interval that a recovery vehicle had almost hit Pierre Gasly at the back of the field, after it was initially thought that the tractor wasn’t aware that the Frenchman still needed to go past.
However, footage from Verstappen’s onboard camera has since shown that the recovery vehicle was in fact released before any of the drivers had gone past.
Every onboard available showed just how difficult it was to see the driver in front, let alone a tractor with rather dim rear-lights.
The onboard footage from Verstappen’s title-winning RB18 shows that the Dutchman was clearly shocked to see the tractor, after suddenly taking to the grass on the inside of the corner, whilst the tractor drove on the outside.
A number of drivers have vocally criticised the FIA for the “unacceptable” incident, where Gasly revealed that he was just a few metres from “death”.
Following the race, the FIA released a statement which explained that they’ll be looking into what happened, for future reference.
Drivers were outraged by the incident due to what happened at Suzuka in 2014, where Jules Bianchi crashed underneath a recovery vehicle.
The extremely talented driver sadly died from his injuries in 2015, with the FIA seemingly having learnt nothing from it.
Once the race restarted, Verstappen came under pressure at first from Leclerc, before pulling a ridiculous gap over the Ferrari driver.
Despite the race only being 28 Laps long, the Dutchman claimed victory by almost 30 seconds, with Leclerc finishing third following a five-second time penalty for gaining an advantage after cutting across the final chicane.
It meant that with Sergio Pérez claiming second and full points being awarded, Verstappen was crowned again as champion.