Jared Tofil | Sports Writer
Max Verstappen of Oracle Red Bull Racingwon a restarted race due to constant rain at the Japanese Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc of Scuderia Ferrari predicted to finish second. But Leclerc, on the final lap, was given a 10-second time penalty for cutting the chicane while
defending off the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez, who was chasing him down. Due to this
penalty, it gave Verstappen enough of a points swing heading to the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, as well as the other final four races where Perez and Leclerc are unable to catch up.
Let's examine how the race unfolded for the three drivers in this title fight. After a very hectic first two laps that saw two drivers retire, Carlos Sainz of Ferrari aquaplaning into the wall at turn 11,which kicked an advertisement board onto the track, landing on Pierre Gasly of Alphatauri's front wing. Other drivers also had close calls with some spins on track, and finally, Alex Albon of Williams retired after contact with another driver. The FIA decided that conditions were unsafe to continue and red-flagged the race to clear the track and let the rain settle down.
Despite all this, Verstappen, Leclerc, and Perez still held the top three positions in the race since the incidents all happened behind them in the packed midfield. After a longwait, the race finally resumed over an hour later, and Verstappen and Leclerc had a great restart under the safety car, lapping much quicker than Perez, who was still in 3rd. It wasn't until the final few laps that Verstappen managed to put near a 30-second gap on 2nd place Leclerc while Sergio Perez finally made the push and forced Leclerc to react and make a mistake that would secure him 2nd place. That's exactly what happened as Leclerc cut the final chicane and got a five-second penalty securing Verstappen the championship from his closes rival at the time.
It wasn’t until the interviews before the podium that the world and Max himself found out he was champion due to a confusion of the points system due to the delay and since Zhou of Alfa Romeo secured the DHL Fastest Lap, which Max also needed to get if Leclerc finished 2nd. Most drivers figured due to the delay, they wouldn’t be unable to reach 50% of the lap total and secure full points for the race and only get partial points. Nevertheless, they managed to do over 50%, and with Perez passing, Leclerc was the nail in the coffin for his hopes of coming back already down over 100 points. Max Verstappen has now won his 2nd world title in his career, winning his first last year betting Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton on the final race of the season.