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Verstappen's second title 'more beautiful' than his first

By Ben Spratt

Suzuka (Japan), October 9: Max Verstappen may not have immediately known he was again Formula One champion on Sunday (October 9), but a dominant season made this triumph "more beautiful" than the last for the Dutchman.

Verstappen has won consecutive titles in slightly confusing fashion, even if his 2022 success was long anticipated.

When the Red Bull superstar pipped Lewis Hamilton in 2021, it was after a highly controversial restart in the season finale as both drivers took the fight right down to the wire.

This time, Verstappen headed into the Japanese Grand Prix knowing he was almost certain to be celebrating again at some stage.

He could complete the job at Suzuka by finishing eight points ahead of Charles Leclerc and six ahead of Sergio Perez – an outcome he unknowingly achieved.

Leclerc was given a five-second penalty after the race to finish behind Perez, meaning Verstappen was champion when Red Bull clocked full points would be awarded due to the race resuming after a red flag, despite only half of the grand prix being completed.

It was an odd way to learn of the success, but Verstappen was able to reflect on the year as a whole, having contributed to 12 of Red Bull's team-record 14 wins.

Of his two titles, Verstappen said: "I think the first one is always a little more emotional, but the second one is probably more beautiful with the season we've had – the wins, the great racing, the teamwork, the one-twos.

"Also we're leading the constructors' so we really want to focus on that as well to try to secure that.

"It's been a pretty special year. It's something you really have to remind yourself of, because these kind of years you don't have very often."

Summing up his emotions, Verstappen added: "It's crazy. I have very mixed emotions, of course, winning the race and also, looking back now, winning the championship. What a year we've had so far.

"It's been incredible and something I never could have imagined happening after last year, already fighting to the end and then having such a good car again this year.

"I'm so thankful to everyone who has been contributing to this success. The whole team that is here but also back in the factory room is working flat out, and they're never missing any motivation to try to make the car faster.

"Besides that, the work we've done together with Honda, all the way through, every year, constantly improving rapidly.

"To win now twice is very emotional, especially here [at Honda's home race and with the Japanese fans], with everyone watching.

"It gives you a little bit more pressure, but it's good pressure, positive pressure. I'm very proud that we could do it here."

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Story first published: Sunday, October 9, 2022, 15:32 [IST]
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