FIA silences politics so as not to spoil Verstappen’s joy
The anti-hero still ready for his title… The FIA silences the policy not to spoil the joy of Max Verstappen with the Dutchman on the verge of winning a second world championship in Japan
- Max Verstappen looks set to win his second Formula 1 World Championship
- The Dutchman could clinch the title at Suzuka in Japan tomorrow morning
- He is on pole position for the race after avoiding punishment after qualifying
- There have been accusations that Red Bull went over the budget cap last year
At the start of the season, Max Verstappen was particularly curt when asked how the demands changed as world champion.
“At the weekend I’m here to race, I’m not here to entertain the crowds,” said the Dutchman.
Every driver has his loyal legion of fans and so of course Verstappen has his, but his role in this era of Formula 1 is more like that of the anti-hero.
Max Verstappen could win his second world championship in Japan this weekend
The Dutchman is on pole for the Suzuku Grand Prix and the title is in his hands tomorrow
Traveling the crowded JR Express line on the south coast towards the Suzuka Circuit here, fanatical Japanese fans are talking about Abu Dhabi, when Verstappen controversially passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap after the race director intervened Michael Masi to win his first title.
They talk about the delayed release of the 2021 budget cap report, which is due on Monday amid claims, which have been denied, that Red Bull breached the £114million cap on their way to the first Premier League title. Verstappen.
They talk about Verstappen’s luck not being deprived of pole position by the stewards after a near-collision at Turn 15 with Lando Norris. It ended with a reprimand, nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
Red Bull have denied claims they breached the budget cap when they won last year
Right now Verstappen is the best driver in the best car, that’s undeniable and he will be a worthy champion.
But there is also an inescapable belief that everyone is doing everything they can to avoid spoiling what appears to have been a carefully choreographed title party here at Honda, the manufacturer inextricably linked to Red Bull, having propelled the player 25 years old. to glory last season.
Fans walked through the gates with “2022 World Champion” banners and flags. The bourgeoisie of the Paddock Club laughed yesterday at the idea of meeting a new crowned champion at Suzuka (there have been 11 in Formula 1, with Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Ayrton Senna in this closed club).
Everyone seems to be doing everything they can to avoid spoiling Verstappen’s title party
Talking about the budget cap is what has angered Verstappen the most since he landed in Singapore for the previous race.
What started out as something closer to rumor than fact in Italian media quickly extrapolated into suggestions that Verstappen would have his 2021 title stripped and awarded to Hamilton.
It is understood this is highly unlikely, with Red Bull adamant no breach took place and with the FIA verdict due last Wednesday the pre-planned coronation in Japan looked set to become nothing more than a side show. Cue a convenient delay.
Max Verstappen clinched pole position on a weekend where he can be crowned world champion
The 25-year-old has been head and shoulders above the rest of the field all season
FIA figures pointed to the complexity of analyzing last season’s accounts as the cause, but the timing of the delay felt and does feel significant.
Verstappen brushed off all questions about it. Here, running so as not to enter the political war of sport was the line he took.
Then came qualifying and his fifth pole position of the season, taking the rest of the field to the top of the field. The plan was working exactly as the powers that be had no doubt envisioned.
He’s an anti-hero to many, but he’s unlikely to care when he wins the world championship
An investigation by the stewards followed, a furious Norris demanded a grid penalty and the subsequent removal of pole position was “for sure” to happen for dangerous driving.
But dropping Verstappen five places behind two fast Ferraris, his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon would have jeopardized today’s perfect day. No penalty grid, no punishment. On the show would go.
According to the interviewee, disbelief followed, as is often the case around decision-making on Verstappen. An anti-hero? Too. Not that he cares, especially when looking at title #2.