Max Verstappen appears to be allergic to winning a World Championship under normal conditions, after it took his team to open the rulebook to discover that he had indeed become a double World Champion with victory at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Dutchman dealt with pressure from Charles Leclerc superbly during the shortened race at the Suzuka International Racing Course, which was massively impacted by heavy rainfall.
Verstappen came close to losing the lead on the first lap, after Leclerc made a better launch off the line.
The Red Bull driver held the lead in amazing fashion, though, by hanging around the outside of the Ferrari driver at the first corner.
From then on, he completely controlled proceedings, including, the Safety Car restart following the long red flag interval.
Leclerc attempted to cling on to the championship leader, but ultimately couldn’t maintain his pace.
The Ferrari driver ended up turning his intention to Sergio Pérez behind, who was closing rapidly in the final laps of the race.
As Verstappen crossed the line to claim yet another victory, Leclerc buckled under the pressure from the Mexican.
Leclerc ran across the Turn 16/17 chicane and went on to still cross the line in second, directly ahead of Pérez; however, the Ferrari driver was awarded a five-second time penalty for gaining an unfair advantage so was demoted to third, with Pérez being elevated to second.
Despite this, everything was still happening as if the championship hadn’t been decided, which most thought it hadn’t.
It was thought that full points wouldn’t be awarded, with the race having not been completed to the correct distance.
The FIA decided to award full points, though, due to the race finishing, rather than behind suspended.
This meant Verstappen had claimed the title, which bizarrely led to ex-F1 driver Johnny Herbert breaking the news to him in parc ferme.
“What can I say? Incredible!” Verstappen said after finding out he had claimed his second World Championship.
“It’s mixed emotions, very special to do it here, in front of the Honda people and the Japanese fans.”
Whilst he was seen celebrating with his team prior to the podium, Verstappen still didn’t think he’d claimed the title and was certain a mistake had been made.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
It led to jokes that he can’t win a championship under normal circumstances, considering that the 2021 championship is technically still being decided.
Verstappen revealed that he didn’t care about winning the championship under odd circumstances and actually found it “quite funny”.
“To be honest, I don’t mind that it was a little bit confusing,” Verstappen admitted.
“I find it actually quite funny. Once I crossed the line, I was like, ‘OK, that was an amazing race, good points again, but not world champion yet’. Then I did my interview after the race. And then suddenly my mechanics started to cheer and I was like, ‘What’s going on?’
“I realised that Checo was second instead of Charles. But I still didn’t know if it was full points or half points or whatever it is – 75pc, I don’t know how you do it. But Tom [Wood, FIA media delegate] came to me, and he said that I was the world champion.”