It had been a chaotic race, stalled by rain and then restarted, before the chaos continued afterwards with confusion reigning over whether Verstappen had defended his title.
For much of the race, it seemed as if the Red Bull driver would be forced to wait until the next grand prix in Austin to secure the drivers’ title for the second time in his career as the race was red-flagged due to rain.
When the race did begin again, it was much shortened, seemingly leaving fewer points available, and with Verstappen’s rival Charles Leclerc crossing the line in a second, he seemed mathematically still in the title hunt.
So when Verstappen finished, he initially only celebrated a race victory – his 12th of the season – and completed his first post-race interview accordingly.
But Ferrari’s Leclerc had cut the final corner, under pressure from Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez, and incurred a five-second time penalty after the race has finished, ending his title challenge.
“Have I or have I not? I am hearing different things,” Verstappen said, after he was initially crowned world champion during a second post-race interview.
It was confirmed again, and he sat down in front of a ‘World Champion’ banner in a throne room.
“I feel a bit lonely,” he said.
Still, the Red Bull driver was not entirely certain of his new status as a two-time world champion, even after the podium celebrations to mark his race victory, as the regulations stipulating the awarding of points in the rain caused confusion.
“Am I the world champion?” Verstappen asked Jensen Button before his interview on the podium.
According to the FIA, full points, rather than staggered points, could be awarded since the race was resumed after a rain delay, giving Verstappen a 113 point lead in the world championship with only 112 left on the track.
More to follow…