News24.com | ‘The outcome has been clear for a while’
The Formula 1 paddock reacted to Max Verstappen’s second championship win, with some more positive around the events than others.
Indeed, Verstappen’s title came after Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was handed a five-second penalty at the race’s end, dropping him to third and lifting Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez, to second. Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto was vocal over his driver’s penalty and felt it should not have been handed out.
Yet, while the Italian team is still licking its wounds, the rest of the paddock is ecstatic over the Dutchman’s championship double. And though there was some confusion in the race’s immediate aftermath, Verstappen and the Red Bull team partied late into the Japanese night.
“I still didn’t know if it was full points, half points, or whatever,” Verstappen, 25, said after the race.
“But then, of course, they read through the rules, and the FIA came to me and said that I was [the] world champion. We then celebrated, and people were still telling me no, you’re still missing a point. It was a bit weird, but honestly, I find it quite funny because, at the end of the day, it’s not going to change the result in the end, right?”
Teams and drivers react
Verstappen: “This is crazy! To win here in Japan is really special. I feel really proud that we could do it here. When I crossed the line, I didn’t know that I was World Champion, there was a lot of confusion, but I thought it was quite funny. The teamwork has been unreal. We kept on pushing, kept on believing and kept on improving the car.
“As a team, we’ve made very few mistakes, you can’t be perfect, but for most of the races, we were close to it. Working together with Honda has been incredible and, of course, a lot of my thanks goes out to the team here at track, back at the factory and everyone that’s been contributing with the Red Bull Powertrains division. Everyone has been working flat out and has a huge amount of motivation. Checo has been an incredible teammate, and now the full focus is on the Constructors Championship.”
Sergio Perez, Red Bull: “I am very proud of what Max has done this season; he has stepped up as a driver. I was fighting with him in the beginning, but then halfway through the year, he moved into another gear. The way he drove in some races was unbelievable. It is a massive day for the team, [and] to do this in Japan, and with a one-two, is incredible. Hopefully, soon, we [can] secure the Constructors’ Championship for our team. That will be massive.”
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal and CEO: “What a race! Coming to the end, we were not sure we would be awarded full points, but to finish like that is beyond all of our wildest dreams. Max was truly dominant. He has been all season, but he was driving on a different planet, finishing nearly 27 seconds in front of everyone else is an unreal effort which encapsulates his season perfectly. That is our 14th victory [of the year], which is a record for the team and exemplifies how he and the team have raised it to the next level at every race.
“To achieve this Championship is truly special, and to do it here in Japan with Honda makes it even more special. Checo has also had an incredible run. His season has been equally impressive. He is second in the Championship, and we are all working hard to keep him there. Equally, we are working to bring home the Constructor Championship after eight long years.”
Max Verstappen (right) and Christian Horner
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari: “I gave it my all, but it was a difficult race for us today. We were strong in warming up the tyres in the first few laps, but then it all faded away. I congratulate Max and Red Bull for an incredible season. They’ve done an excellent job and deserve the title. We will use the last four races to work on our race execution, tyre management and becoming a stronger team all-round so that we can mount an even better challenge next year.”
Charles Leclerc (left) and Max Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG: “Once we got racing today, I had a blast out there – it was so tough in the conditions, hard to see, and that’s exactly how motor racing should be; a real challenge for us all. I wish we had been able to go longer and do more laps for the fans who waited so patiently, but we ran to time and were beginning to lose the light.
“Finally, congratulations to Max – he’s done exactly the job he needed to do to win his second title. We know what our problems are with this car, and I believe we have the team to come back stronger next season.”
George Russell, Mercedes-AMG: “We need to review and see what we could have done better today. I think we had a stronger car than the result reflects and that we could have been P6 today.
“And, of course, congratulations to Max on his second championship; the outcome has been clear for a while, but he and Red Bull have done an exceptional job this year.”
Lewis Hamilton (left) and George Russell
Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri: “It’s a special race weekend for us and Honda, but at the same time, it’s great that Max has been able to win the Championship. He has been incredible, winning consistently, and has always been performing at his best and has got everything to be World Champion, so a massive congrats to him, to Red Bull and Honda. It’s extra special to win the title here in Suzuka, so I’m really happy for them.”
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri: “Big congrats to Max for winning the World Championship – it’s great that the Japanese fans have been able to witness that here today!”