Verstappen “in the form of his life” with second championship win – Horner

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Max Verstappen “has been on another planet” with the performances that have made him a two-times Formula 1 world champion, his Red Bull team principal has said.

He clinched a second consecutive title in bizarre circumstances last weekend at Suzuka. Verstappen won the shortened Japanese Grand Prix, for which full points were unexpectedly awarded.

He won his first title in a controversial finale in Abu Dhabi last year. Following another unusual conclusion to a title fight, Horner said “a championship win is a championship win,” but added that for “this one, I think the blood pressure is way lower than in Abu Dhabi.”

“But it means just as much,” he continued. “For Max, becoming world champion last year, carrying that number one on the car, he’s driven with such conviction this year and he’s defended the title in such a dominant fashion. It’s been a joy to see him reach another level this year.”

Verstappen retired from two of the first three races due to technical problems, which allowed rival Charles Leclerc to build a substantial championship lead. But Verstappen swiftly overturned that and pulled ahead so quickly he was able to clinch the title with four races to spare.

“After a couple of difficult races early in the season, the way the team’s bounced back, the way he’s driven, he’s dominated this championship,” said Horner.

Verstappen won the 28-lap Japanese GP by 26.7 seconds on the road to main title rival Charles Leclerc. But the Ferrari driver was penalised five seconds and so Sergio Perez was promoted to second place to complete a Red Bull one-two.

“To put 25 seconds on Charles in 20-odd laps was a massive performance,” said Horner. “With Checo finishing second as well, fantastic for him and his championship. For the constructors it’s big points as well, so absolutely delighted with the outcome, and I think Max is a truly deserving champion.

“To do it with four races remaining is truly a remarkable performance. I think Max has been on another planet this year. He has dominated this championship, and driven with such maturity, such conviction. And I think that it’s of course far less controversial than the last race in Abu Dhabi, which was a titanic battle last year.”

Verstappen’s Suzuka win was his 12th of the season, leaving him one away from equalling the record for most victories in the single season. Horner sees little chance his driver will ease up over the final races, saying Verstappen is “in the form of his life” after clinching his second title.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 Japanese Grand Prix articles

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

52 comments on “Verstappen “in the form of his life” with second championship win – Horner”

  1. Should be taken away because of cheating upgrades brought in last season.


    1. It’s been done to death already. But people keep throwing the word “Cheating” around.

      a) We don’t know how much the spent.
      b) We don’t know what they spent it on.

      Deliberately spending it on upgrades hoping it’s only a fine for being <5% over – Yes. Cheating.

      Accidently spending it on catering due to an accounting error is slightly different. It's not like they've deliberately rigged their fuel flow meters..

      And no, I'm not a Red Bull fan!

      1. I read this interesting PoV somewhere else (not sure if I agree though):
        Why is a budget overspend different from using more PU’s in a season? Both undoubtedly give you a benefit, and in the case of the PU teams do it on purpose (the benefit is bigger than the penalty).
        Maybe FIA should treat (minor) budget overspends the same, but the penalties should be fair*, clear before it happens, and the same for all.

        * to me ‘fair’ means at least an automatic 2x reduction of the cap in the following season(s), and maybe a drop in WCC points.
        This should be on reported overspends, with a harsher penalty on fraudulent overspend.

        1. I’m not against punishing Red Bull, they were the only team to go over the cap – They should have some sort of penalty. Whether that’s a fine, less wind tunnel time or docking points.

          My issue is with the word “cheating”.

          We’ll probably never know where the extra spend went, but I think automatically labelling them cheaters without knowing either how much over they were or where it went isn’t correct.

          1. Im sure a multi million pound buisnes misplace money all the time, Most goverments consider that tax dodging.

          2. But allow them to get away with it 99% of the time, as they are ‘good’ for the country and the economy.

          3. “Cheating” would like cutting a couple turns off the course. Or re-fueling. Or having an extra 1,000 cc in the power plant. Or … Or 10 kg lighter. Or … Perhaps they (over) spent and the results were nil, useless, NFG? Does a fine add to their (over) spent cap? Jeeez. Beat this to death.

        2. From what I understand a reduction in the cap can only be applied for the following season. In this case the following season is all but over and will most certainly be over if and when a reduction is given.
          Only a severe sporting penalty, and a return of all prize money will deter teams from strategically breaking the cap

          1. From what I understand a reduction in the cap can only be applied for the following season.

            Then I hope they finish this quickly and actually do reduce the cap to this year (or agree with RBR that the overspend to be carried over to this year, and any additional penalty to be defined later).
            The worst would be if a team can overspend and merely gets a slap on the wrist.

    2. Constantijn Blondel
      11th October 2022, 14:05


      Let’s not …

    3. Lol. Championship or not: it doesn’t take away that Verstappen is on top form this season.

      Many seem to come to the comment section to tie Verstappen and Red Bull to the highest tree together. Apart from all the nuances that inevitably get lost in those online discussions, I’d like to challenge the idea that Verstappen made the decision to spend more himself. In other words: is Red Bull letting Verstappen down with this accounting mess?

    4. I really would hate it when a driver is punished for his team’s mistake. The guy is driving flawlessly.

      1. Davethechicken
        11th October 2022, 19:14

        He has had a good season and a deserved WDC this year , but flawless? That is a huge exaggeration. Did you not see the last race, Singapore? Hardly “flawless” now was he?
        He has had no competition as RBR deliberately chose a journeyman teammate and Ferrari are not quick and reliable enough. So easy to drive well when you are just cruising.
        Max has never had a top level team mate and struggled with Riccardo who we now know to be mediocre.

        1. Riccardo who we now know to be mediocre

          That’s a bit revisionist isn’t it?

          Ricciardo beat Vettel, so are now by extension saying Vettel was never any good either? And Vettel beat Kimi, so Kimi was trash too?

          Too simplistic by far.

          1. Davethechicken
            13th October 2022, 14:59

            The point still stands though. He hasn’t had a great team mate. We can only judge on those he has had.

    5. Itsmeagain (@)
      11th October 2022, 17:19

      @w-k ‘cheat…takenaway’, sorry, no discussion. You have already made your opinion with that ‘cheat’ which is purely parroting certain fans and two teamleaders. Of which the first burned one engine a race in the second part of 2021, and the other was really cheating with an illegal engine and got away with it.
      If this was cheating (the amount is still not communicated by the FIA)

    6. Let’s discuss. Verstappen two times world champion. Last year he should have won by 30+ points had Sir Lewis and his comrade Bottas not taken him out of the race. This year, on another planet. Anything else to say ?

    7. ok, give them to my granny, she never cheated

  2. I really hope the Red Bull overspending allegations whether genuine or a mistake, don’t muddy the once in a generation talent of Verstappen. People tried to tie the last exceptional driver, Schumacher, with the same ‘cheating’ allegations. These two drivers would have won races and championships regardless.

    1. It won’t, there will always be blinded fans of drivers/teams talking all kinds od nonsense, whether they are in love with Verstappen, Hamilton, Senna or Alesi, doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, no one else cares for what they have to say, after all they are the loud(est) minority. A few comments here kinda fades when we consider there are over 7 billion of us. I guess it’s all part of F1 anyway, they are glad to see any kind of marketing, even bad one.

    2. Yes he is very like Schumacher. Undoubtably very talented but yet to see him have to drive against a formidable team mate like an ex world champ. Sainz wasn’t a walkover and he didn’t exactly blow away Ricciardo like Norris has done did he.? Just more * to go against the ** he already has.

  3. I thought domination was bad, Christian.

    1. Don’t expect anything less than double standards form Christian Horner.

  4. It’s the car

  5. The rain is the great equaliser and I enjoyed Japan. A dominant and deserved win with 27 s margin for Max. I’m sure that he would have pitted and set fastest lap if they had known full points were rewarded. Well deserved WDC for both RB and Max. However I hope we don’t get into a new dominating era with RB and Max like we have had in the past so many times.

    1. Downforce and straight line speed still count in the wet.

      1. Funny how certain sets of fans will say anything to take credit away form the driver when its not the Driver they support and say exactly the opposite to support their driver, how can anyone take your drivel seriously?
        Go back through previous posts to see just how adamant Lewis fans have been over the years insisting (despite Merc dominance) that it was the driver…But now it’s not the Driver? clearly correct, because Lewis can’t get close, why, because its the car, he can’t win without the best car, like he had for many years.
        To win, you’ve got to be very good, and you’ve got to have equipment that is at least arguably amongst the best.

  6. I hope next year wont be this easy..

    Max especially is doing his large part making it look easy.

    But in reality Perez would win the title in that car… But it wouldnt look easy.

    1. I’m not so sure. Judging by the current standings, yes, but that includes a big deficit because of unforced Ferrari/Leclerc errors. If you discount those, Leclerc would be ahead of Perez, whereas Max would still have a huge lead.

  7. First true words Horner has spoken recently!

  8. Look forward to Max eventually getting a Championship win that’s not an absolute embarrassment of a clusterf••k.

  9. Not an Orange soldier, but Max’s driving is on other level for that he’s a well deserved world Champions no question regarding it imo.

    1. It’s the car

      1. Well tell Perez to drive faster.. if he is told to let Max pass he should just drive faster. Of course it is made more for Max’s driving style but if it is purely the car everyone should be able to win all the races.

  10. Max is an outstanding driver and worthy of being a multiple World Champion, however these two titles will always be tainted. Especially 2021, that one at least should be stripped off and either given to Hamilton or perhaps the whole championship should be nullified, this is due to Masi’s ‘human error’ asterisk plus the financial breach which indirectly taints this year’s title as well.

    If matters like this are just overlooked then one would have to ask what is the meaning of watching this? Is this any better than WWE? If drama and outcomes are influenced by way of applying penalties vigorously when it is the one that should not win and leniency given to one that they (FOM) want to win then it is just slightly less scripted than WWE or your stupid soap opera. The outcome is the same, manufactured drama. Again, why is this worth watching anymore?

    1. I don’t want to smoke what you are smoking

  11. It obviously still hurts for some bitter Merc/Hamilton fans.
    Still blind to all the fortunate points Lewis gained but hung up on the smallest bit of luck Max had in comparison.
    Oh well…

    1. Well in their defence, they were incredibly played last year and this year by a certain team pr strategy. Most don’t even recognise it, even after being prompted.

  12. Dominate driver and dominate car, what more could he do. Also Perez is a shambles, get someone else in that seat and give Max a little bit of competition. Not saying he would get beaten, but at least it gives us something interesting to watch because F1 at the moment isn’t great

    1. RB second seat is poison and has been for a long time. The car is quite obviously built around its lead driver to the detriment of all others – Albon, Gasly, Perez, Ricciardo, Webber…

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        12th October 2022, 11:44

        De Vries in 2024.

      2. Assuming this is true, then at least the car isn’t that good that even the second driver predominantly comes in 2nd every race like we have just had for almost a decade.

  13. I beg to differ. Verstappen has not driven impeccablly this year. Having made several mistakes for various races etc . Spinning. Not being able to set car up properly etc. The car on the other hand is way ahead when compared to their competitors. Further more the car is designed to maxes very specific requirements. If he and people can diminish the performance of Lewis during his dominant years then the cap must fit on his head aswell. Its the car. Period.

    1. If it helps in finally putting Lewis tally in perspective then sure, let’s see it that way. In fact Max already agreed with that view in some interviews. He knows very well and is not shy to admit you need the car to do it. He is not the driver still in denial. He is also not the one shy to team up with Lewis at the same team. Bring it.

      1. Its easy for him to say (which I’ve never heard actually) he is willing to team up with Lewis. Its actually Lewis who has said he can team up with anyone… Lewis while ultra competitive and fast is in his final years. Due to his age may not be as fast as when he started in F1. Max knows this. Its like Alonso now, very fast but has last some of his ability. Max is in his prime. And even in his prime it took him his partner. Tje siater team and the fia to beat Lewis is arguably equal if not better machinery last year.

  14. Also in Japan the gap to leclerc was not the performance of max but the disatrous performance of the ferraris on race day. Even Perez was catching leclerc what 2 seconds a lap at some point.

    1. That’s down to tyres. If Ferrari could get on top of their race pace they would be still challenging for the title. Being the quickest in qualifying isn’t as important any more without the dirty air disrupting the car behind.
      I have a feeling next year everyone else will go the same route as RedBull and maximise their performance for race setup.

      1. Yep ferraris are terrible on the tyrws duri g the race.

  15. When you leave aside the controversy of how it ended, this season is simply a reminder of how good last season was by comparison. Two top drivers battling it out in cars that were fairly even over the course of the season. I thought LeClerc was going to do something similar this season, but between his errors and Ferrari’s poor in-season development, it faded away all too quickly.

    Hopefully Merc pulls their act together so we can see some more close battles next season (I’d include Ferrari in that, but I have almost no hope for them anymore). Unfortunately don’t think Red Bull will have the equivalent of a Rosberg in the second car anytime soon, so the challenge will need to come from another team again.

    1. Well said Simon. Very true last years contest was epic minus the controversy. Excuse my spelling i type on my phone…

  16. Max was the best last year in the second best car (Despite the last race). This year he is the best in arguably the best car. However the expert commentators at the events disagree they discussed this in coverage of one of the last two races, they believe the Ferrari is the best car.
    But for the Lewis fans, lets at least concede that the RB is better than the Merc this year.
    I feel this best car argument is not actually about the best car, it is about who has the better car between Max and Lewis. 2022 it is Max, for 2021 and back it was Lewis.

Comments are closed.