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Infamous 2021 Race Defined the Terms of Max Verstappen’s Second World Title

Published 10/09/2022, 10:55 AM EDT

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via Reuters

After a rain delayed restart behind the safety car, Max Verstappen came back to his dominant self. The Dutchman led the race every single lap, giving 2nd placed Charles Leclerc no chance for a battle. After Leclerc was hit with a 5-second penalty for going off the track and gaining an advantage, confusion persisted about whether Max will be crowned champion for the second time.

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It was clear before the race that Verstappen needed to beat Leclerc by 8 and Perez by 6 points to take the title home. That happened after Leclerc’s time penalty was confirmed. However, the point of contention remained whether the drivers will be awarded full points. This is because of the change in rules by FIA after what ensued after last year’s Belgian GP.


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The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix debacle and the change in rules that followed

The 2021 Belgian GP stirred a huge controversy after a bizarre decision by the FIA. The race was delayed after persistent heavy rain. FIA expected the rain to get calmer after a while and intended to start the race. When that did not happen, they started the race behind the safety car and red-flagged the race after a couple of laps.

Race director Michael Masi decided to complete the mandatory minimum number of laps and award half points accordingly.


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The decision caused an uproar with fans cornering FIA for the mess, also accusing them of bias. The controversy prompted FIA to change the rules, which was the reason behind today’s confusion.

As per the new rules, no points are to be awarded to any driver in case the race leader does not complete a minimum of 2 laps without a safety car or a virtual safety car. In case the race leader completes over 2 laps, but less than 25% of the race distance, 6, 4, 3, 2, and 1 point are to be awarded to the drivers finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, respectively.

Similarly, if the race leader completes over 25% but less than 50% of the race distance, the top 9 drivers are awarded 13, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 point.

Finally, if the race leader completes over 50%, but less than 75% of the race distance, the top 10 drivers are to be awarded 19, 14, 12, 9, 8, 6, 5, 3, 2, and 1 point as per their standings.

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But lo-and-behold, there’s a catch. These rules pertain only to suspended races, and not races that have a restart. And because today’s race had a restart and ended with a chequered flag, the abovementioned rules do not come into play. Therefore, regardless of how much race distance was covered, full points were awarded.

The confusion in today’s race and Max Verstappen’s eventual win


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After the race concluded, things were going as usual. Winner Max Verstappen celebrated with his team before being interviewed. The celebration was a race victory-level celebration, not a WDC win-level celebration. This was because FIA was pondering whether Leclerc had gained an undue advantage by going off track.

However, that is not what fans were confused about. Almost every fan thought that FIA was calculating the race distance, and the changed rules for reduced points will be applicable.

via Reuters

It was only when Max was being interviewed that he was told that Leclerc was handed a 5-second penalty and he was the champion for the second time.


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The ‘Dutch Lion’ will not have to wait for another race to be crowned champion. He has comfortably taken the title away with 4 races still to go. Such has been the domination of Red Bull and the Flying Dutchman this season.



Nischay Rathore

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Nischay Rathore is a Formula 1 Author at EssentiallySports. Being a law graduate, he has worked at the Supreme Court of India as well as the High Court of Delhi. However, due to his adherent love for sports, he has now set out to start his journey into the world of Sports Journalism.

Edited By: Ranvijay Singh