Red Bull driver Max Verstappen singled out his “teamwork” with Sergio Perez and the contribution of the staff at the track and back in the factory in helping him win his second Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship after winning the Japanese Grand Prix here on Sunday.

Verstappen, who won his maiden title in 2021 in the final lap of the final race, and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc were poised to finish 1-2 as restarted Grand Prix at a wet Suzuka entered its closing stages and it looked like the battle for the Drivers’ Championship will continue in the next race in the United States.

However, on the final lap, Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez, pressurised Leclerc into a mistake at the chicane and the Ferrari driver picked up a five-second time penalty for jumping across the run-off and defending his position.

The time penalty meant that Leclerc was demoted to the third spot and thus Verstappen (366) — with an unassailable lead of 113 points over Leclerc (253) — bagged the title with four races to go in the season.

The unexpected turn of events left Verstappen elated. “It’s crazy. (I’ve got) very mixed emotions. What a year we’ve had so far — it’s been incredible. It’s something I could never have imagined happening after last year already, fighting to the end and having such a good car again this year,” he said after the race.

Verstappen said the reason for their superb performance in this season was the hard work they put in both on the track and in the factory.

“I’m so thankful to everyone who has been contributing to the success. The whole team here (at the track) but also back at the factory constantly working flat out and never missing any motivation to make the car faster,” he added.

“Besides that, the work we’ve done together with Honda all the way through every year, just constantly improving rapidly. To win now twice with them is very emotional, especially here (at their home track), with everyone watching. It gives you a little bit more pressure, but it’s good pressure, it’s positive pressure. I’m very proud that we could do it here.”

Verstappen has so far won 12 out of the 8 races while he has five 1-2 finishes with Perez, including the one at Suzuka.

Asked to compare his 2021 and 2022 title wins, Verstappen said the second one is more “beautiful”.

“I think the first one is always a little more emotional. But the second one is probably even more beautiful� The season we’ve had with the wins, the great races, the teamwork, the 1-2s we’ve had,” he was quoted as saying by the f1 website.

The latest 1-2 finish in Japan means Red Bull are on course for winning the Constructors’ Championships too.

“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 and it’s something you really have to remind yourself of, because these kinds of years you don’t have very often,” said Verstappen.

Source – IANS