The FIA have been defended over its points rules after confusion in the moments after Max Verstappen’s title win at the Japanese Grand Prix. Ex-F1 driver Christijan Albers claimed the regulations were “clear” despite fans, the media and even Red Bull baffled as to the outcome of the championship.
Many believe race winner Verstappen would not be handed full points as the race did not complete its entire distance. This would have meant the Dutchman would not have been crowd champion at Suzuka even with Charles Leclerc’s five-second penalty which promoted Sergio Perez to P2.
However, it later emerged the full points system was awarded because the race was restarted after a red flag stoppage. Article 6.5 states different points would only be awarded if the Grand Prix “cannot be resumed”.
Speaking to Dutch newspaper Telegraaf’s F1 podcast, Albers said: “The big problem is that everyone there is twiddling their thumbs all day at the circuit. There must be so much news there every day that everyone thinks way too far and thinks about it again and then thinks again about what the situation is.
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“When you take the regulations and the paragraph where it says it, it just says it very clearly. If a race is not cancelled, and it is not, then full points are just handed out. We can talk about it for hours, but it’s actually very simple.”
Verstappen didn’t realise he had secured the championship when he got out of his car after the race. Johnny Herbert told the Red Bull star of his title win during his post-race interview but Verstappen didn’t appear to believe him.
Moments later, team-mate Perez asked the Dutchman if he had secured the crown to which Verstappen replied that he hadn’t. He was then corrected by an FIA official in the cool down room and directed towards a special room reserved for the world champion.
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After the race, Sky Sports host Ted Kravitz revealed that Red Bull was reading the rulebook after the chequered flag in an attempt to clarify if they had secured the title. Team boss Christian Horner confirmed the team were unsure of the result and strongly believed the title battle would continue to the United States Grand Prix.
He explained: “I think it’s a mistake that wasn’t included after the issues in Spa last year,” Horner told reporters after the race. We were under the strong impression that only with 75 per cent of the race completed would full points be scored.
“So we felt we were going to be one point short. But, in the end, Checo’s move on Charles nailed Max the championship. So you can see his surprise, the team’s surprise. But what a wonderful surprise.”