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Japanese GP 2022

OCTOBER 9, 2022

Race Notes - Verstappen wins rain-shortened Japanese GP and takes title

Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Japanese GP 2022
© Red Bull

By Mark Karp

After starting the Japanese Grand Prix under rain, and a long red flag period, Max Verstappen in the Red Bull won the shortened time-limited race. Charles Leclerc (26.763s) finished second on-track in the Ferrari, but was handed a 5-second penalty during the post race interviews for cutting the chicane and delaying Perez in the final corner, so finished third. Sergio Perez (27.066s) in the second Red Bull was third on track, but was promoted to second place for a Red Bull one-two finish.

With some confusion Verstappen has clinched the Drivers Championship for a second straight year.

The win is the twelve victory for Verstappen this season and the 14th for Red Bull. It is also the fifth one-two finish for Red Bull this season.

The race was time-limited and only went 28 laps, but as per regulations full-points were awarded.

Estebon Ocon (39.685s) in the Alpine-Renault finished in fourth, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton (40.326s) in the Mercedes GP in fifth, Sebastian Vettel (46.358s) in the Aston Martin-Mercedes in sixth, Fernando Alonso (46.369s) in the second Alpine was seventh, George Russell (47.661s) in the second Mercedes was eighth, Nicholas Latifi (1m10.143s) in the Williams-Mercedes scored his first points for the season finished ninth, and Lando Norris (1m10.782s) in the McLaren-Mercedes took the final point in tenth place.

Before the start Verstappen would start from pole with Leclerc alongside on the front row, Sainz and Perez on the second row, Ocon and Hamilton on row three, Alonso and Russell on row four, and Vettel and Norris rounding out the top ten.

Verstappen can clinch the Drivers Championship if he wins a full race and takes the point for fastest lap.

With rain falling before the start, and harder rain expected, everyone starting on intermediate rain tyres. Gasly would start from the pitlane on full wet tyres, and the team changed to full-wet settings.

At the appointed time the drivers came around on the formation lap, the lights went off and the race began with Verstappen getting off in the lead, Leclerc came alongside in the first corner, but Verstappen coming back and took the lead. Vettel touches Alonso into the first corner and spins.

Just coming out of the hairpin Sainz spins and crashes, the safety car in out . Albon stuck in second gear after touching Magnussen in the first corner lost water pressure and was forced to retire with damage Zhou spins and continues.

Gasly ends up with a piece of advertising board stuck on his car that came onto the track from Sainz hitting the wall and he limps back to the pits.

At the end of lap 2 the red flag is out, and the cars pull into the pitlane and all cars come to a stop.

The rain is intensifying and the portable tents come up over the cars.

Gasly is livid in the pits, supposedly upset that a tractor was already out on track as the the safety car came out.

The order sitting under the red flag is Verstappen followed by Leclerc, Perez, Ocon, Hamilton, Alonso, Russell, Ricciardo, Tsunoda, Schumacher in tenth, Stroll, Magnussen, Norris, Bottas, Latifi, Vettel, Zhou and Gasly in 18th place. Albon and Sainz out of the race.

The rain continues to fall and the weather looks bad on the radar, as the drivers stay dry in the pits.

The safety car is out on track for a few exploratory laps. The officials announce that the race will resume at 14:50 local time after a 40 minute delay for a rolling start. All drivers must switch to full wet tyres, 18 cars will restart.

The drivers start to get back into their cars.

At 14:50, as the drivers get set to get started the officials say that the start will be further suspended as the rain continues to fall quite heavily.

The officials announce that they will investigate after the race the situation under safety car that so upset Gasly.

As the three hour window for the race to complete continues, there is bo chance to get the entire race done.

At 15:33 local time, there is 1h30m left on the countdown clock, and the field is still on hold in the pits with rain falling.

Andreas Seidl, McLaren Team Principal said, "All we can do is wait, study the weather forecast and make sure the cars are ready to go at any moment, the drivers as well. To be honest, it's quite a pessimistic outcome. The forecast says it will keep raining.”

As the 1 hour remaining mark passes, Pirelli Motorsport Director Mario Isola said, "I was checking the weather forecast and in sector two, the intensity of the rain is higher than here. We have the tools to modify the tyre, the problem is visibility and with visibility, there's nothing we can do.”

The officials announce that they will try to resume the race at 16:15 local time behind the safety car on full wet tyres. The drivers start to get back in their cars.

The cars start to circulate on the track behind the safety car and the race is resumed, with 45 minutes left on the countdown clock.

Hamilton tells the team that he track is “looking pretty good.”

Bottas running in 14th reports that visibility is still too bad.

Verstappen reports that it is raining a bit harder.

Ricciardo reports that track conditions are okay, but visibility is a bigger issue.

At the end of lap 5. with 40 minutes let, the safety car pulls in and the race resumes with Verstappen leading Leclerc, Perez, Ocon and Hamilton.

Vettel and Latifi pit for intermediate tyres.

On lap 7 Norris and Bottas pit for intermediate tyres.


Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, Ocon, Hamilton, Russell, Tsunoda, Stroll, Magnussen and Gasly all pit for intermediates.

Alonso leads from Ricciardo and Schumacher yet to pit, followed by

Russell tells the team the pitstop was a terrible decision.

Alonso pits the next lap from the lead and rejoins in ninth.

Schumacher leads, but Verstappen is quickly past to the lead.

On lap 9 Verstappen sets fast lap at 1m45.148s.

On lap 10 Leclerc passes Schumacher for second.

Perez passes Schumacher for third.

On lap 11 Ocon passes Schumacher. Hamilton passes Schumacher for fifth.

Verstappen leads Leclerc, Perez, Ocon, Hamilton, Schumacher, Vettel, Alonso, Latifi and Norris in tenth, followed by Tsunoda, Russell, Stroll, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Bottas, Gasly and Zhou in 18th.

Schumacher continues to fall back and on lap 12 pits for intermediates.

Russell follows Tsunoda closely for tenth, and passes the Japanese driver.

At lap 15 with 21 minutes remaining, Verstappen leads Leclerc (10.2s),. Perez (15.4s), Ocon (22.5s), Hamilton (23.0s), Vettel (28.0s), Alonso (29.1s), Latifi (37.8s) in eighth.

On lap 17 Russell passes Norris for ninth.

Hamilton is closely chasing Ocon for fourth.

Alonso is closing on Vettel in sixth.

Mercedes report to Hamilton that Ocon is talking about pitting.

On lap 19 Zhou pits for another set of intermediates.

On lap 20 Hamilton is all over the tail of Ocon.

Stroll and Gasly pit.

Russell passes Latifi for eighth. Tsunoda pits.

At lap 20, with 11 minutes remaining, Verstappen leads Lelerc (15.3s), Perez (17.5s), Ocon (29.4s), Hamilton (29.9s), Vettel (34.9s), Alonso (36.2s), Russell (44.9s), Latifi (51.2s) and Norris (55.8s) in tenth place.

Perez closes to a second behind Leclerc in second.

Alonso pits from seventh for another set of intermediates and rejoins in tenth,

Hamilton continue to closely chase Ocon for fourth.

On lap 25 Alonso passes Latifi for eighth, as he is running quicker than those in front of him.

At lap 25, with 3 minutes remaining Ver leads Leclerc (23.7s), Perez (24.4s), Ocon (37.9s), Hamilton (38.3s), Vettel (43.2s), Russell (47.0s), Alonso (49.2s), Latifi (1m05.2s) and Norris (1m07.45s) in tenth place.

Battles continue with time running out.

Partial points are awards with 50% of the race completed.

Time runs out and lap 28 will be the final lap.

In the final chicane Leclerc goes wide, but holds on to the finish.

Verstappen wins with Leclerc and Perez the top three.

After the finish Leclerc received a five-second penalty so the end results were Verstappen, Perez and Leclerc.

On taking the World Championship, Verstappen said, "The first one is a little more emotional, the second one is more beautiful - just the season we've had, the 1-2's, leading the constructors'. It's been a special year, and you need to remind yourself as these kind of years you don't have very often."