Philip Duncan, PA F1 Correspondent
Max Verstappen has secured his second Formula One world championship after winning Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Here's how Verstappen made his way to glory this season...
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 21, 2022
Verstappen and Charles Leclerc were involved in a terrific battle for first, trading positions on numerous occasions under the lights in Sakhir. Leclerc managed to keep Verstappen at bay before the Dutch driver suffered a mechanical failure in the closing laps to open his championship defence with a disappointing DNF.
Verstappen and Leclerc were at it again a week later in Jeddah – a race which faced a driver boycott following a missile strike on an oil depot during practice. But while Leclerc took the spoils in Bahrain, Verstappen got the better of his Ferrari rival in Saudi Arabia by passing him with just four laps remaining to land his first win of 2022.
On Formula One’s return to Melbourne since the pandemic, Verstappen failed to reach the chequered flag for the second time in three races after his Red Bull expired. Leclerc completed a lights-to-flag win to take his second victory of the campaign.
Verstappen dominated the wet-dry race at Imola to bounce back from his Melbourne DNF with a fine win. Leclerc spun and dropped to sixth.
Verstappen survived a late onslaught from Leclerc to win the sport’s inaugural race in Miami. Verstappen started third before passing Leclerc for the lead on lap nine. A late safety car provided a test of Verstappen’s nerve but the Dutchman kept his cool to win again.
Verstappen raced to his third victory in as many outings after Leclerc was cruelly eliminated from the lead when engine gremlins struck his Ferrari. Leclerc’s demise saw Verstappen take the lead of the championship – an advantage he would never surrender.
Leclerc navigated a delayed rain-hit start to control the early stages. But his race fell apart when Ferrari’s flat-footed strategy was exposed by Red Bull. Sergio Perez moved from third to win, with Verstappen third in the other Red Bull. Leclerc crossed the line fourth.
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Verstappen extended his title advantage by driving unopposed to victory in Baku after Leclerc retired from the lead following an engine blow-out. Leclerc led Verstappen by 46 points after the third round in Australia, but trailed him by 34 points following his latest failure in Azerbaijan.
Verstappen took the chequered flag in Montreal after he held off a late charge from Sainz. Leclerc lost further ground to Verstappen after he was hit win an engine penalty and finished only fifth.
Following a frenetic race which saw Zhou Guanyu survive a horror opening-lap crash, and protesters invade the track, Verstappen took the flag in seventh after he sustained a puncture and damage to his Red Bull bodywork. Leclerc failed to capitalise on Verstappen’s troubles when another Ferrari strategy faux pas saw him drop from first to fourth.
Leclerc passed Verstappen three times to claim his first triumph since Australia on April 10. Verstappen was elevated from third to second in the closing stages when Sainz’s engine dramatically caught on fire.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 24, 2022
Verstappen won at Paul Ricard after Leclerc crashed out from the lead. Leclerc was in charge of the race before he sensationally lost control of his Ferrari through the right-hand Turn 11 and slammed into the tyre wall. Verstappen extended his lead over Leclerc to 63 points.
At F1’s final round before the summer break, Verstappen moved from 10th to first, capitalising on another questionable Ferrari strategy decision on Leclerc’s car to claim his eighth win of the season. Leclerc dropped from the lead to sixth to be cast 80 points adrift – the equivalent of more than three wins with just nine rounds to go.
Verstappen delivered a scintillating drive to overcome an engine penalty and win in Belgium. Verstappen was stripped of pole and demoted to 14th after taking on his fourth engine of the season only to take the lead of the race on lap 12. From there, his ninth win of a one-sided campaign was never in doubt.
A week on from his mesmerising drive at Spa-Francorchamps, Verstappen breezed past Lewis Hamilton following a late safety car to rack up his 10th victory of 2022 and send his orange army wild.
Despite starting only seventh he served a five-place grid drop for exceeding his number of allocated engine parts, Verstappen went behind enemy lines in Ferrari’s back yard to see off Leclerc’s challenge and take his fifth victory in a row.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 2, 2022
A fuelling error in qualifying left Verstappen starting down in eighth and, after a poor start to the grand prix, he would ultimately come home seventh as the first chance to grasp the drivers’ championship slipped through his grasp.
Mr. Two-Time World Champion 🧡🧡 pic.twitter.com/Iclw2fuud4
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) October 9, 2022
A drama-filled Japanese Grand Prix saw Verstappen take pole position and then storm to victory in a truncated race which had been delayed by over two hours due to rain. Once resumed, the Dutchman was untouchable and his title was confirmed when team-mate Perez was promoted to second following a final-corner penalty for Leclerc.