FIA clarifies on Max Verstappen’s championship win

FIA clarifies on Max Verstappen's championship win

The FIA has addressed the rules regarding why full points were awarded in the condensed Japanese Grand Prix following major uncertainty around Max Verstappen’s World Championship win in Japan.

Several first-lap collisions combined with terrible weather at Suzuka caused the race to be suspended for two hours, but the weather eventually cleared up enough for 40 minutes of racing to take place.

Verstappen dominated when the race finally started, winning by a huge margin of 26.7s over Charles Leclerc in second place with the race only running for 28 laps.

Depending on the race distance completed, the FIA has tiered point systems with various totals that apply. Given the number of laps completed at the time the race ended, it was believed when Verstappen crossed the finish line that he had fallen short of winning a second championship, leading to a lower 19-14-12 point total [“Points Column 3”] for the top three instead of the customary 25-18-15 system.

However, Johnny Herbert’s confirmation that Verstappen had actually won the race, despite early confusion as to why, followed news of Charles Leclerc’s five-second penalty for cutting the final chicane.

The verdict was later made clear to the Dutchman, however, with Leclerc’s move from second to third placing being sufficient to give the Red Bull driver the victory and win his second straight championship.

Due to language in FIA Sporting Regulations Article 6.5 that specifies the staggered scoring system does not apply if the relevant red flag period ends and the race begins – instead of computing points on a pure lap-count basis – full World Championship points were awarded for the abbreviated race.

Before describing the precise point structures, Article 6.5 states as follows: “If a race or sprint qualifying session is suspended in accordance with under Article 57, and cannot be resumed, points for each title will be awarded in accordance with the following criteria:

  • No points will be awarded if the leader has completed less than two (2) laps.
  • No points will be awarded unless a minimum of two (2) laps have been completed by the leader without a Safety Car and/or VSC intervention.”

The FIA also confirmed: “Article 6.5 only applies in the event of race suspension that cannot be resumed, and therefore full points are awarded and Max Verstappen is World Champion.”

Christian Horner, the Red Bull team boss, even acknowledged to Sky F1 that Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley had been checking the FIA rules to make sure Verstappen was indeed the champion despite having believed he was short by one point.

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