VERSTAPPEN WINS TITLE AFTER A LAST CORNER PENALTY FOR LECLERC
F1 returned to Suzuka for the first time since 2019 and after over an hour long delay with a red flag put out after the first lap - we finally got back underway initially behind the Safety Car and then the chaos ensued.
As the lights went out Verstappen doesn’t get away that well but manages to lead going into turn one ahead of Leclerc who got the better start with Perez in third and Sainz in fourth. But it only took until less than halfway through the lap when Sainz (Ferrari) aquaplanes into the barrier and the Safety Car is out and Alex Albon (Williams) is also out of this race with a mechanical issue.
With debris across the track the race is red flagged.
After delays of over an hour the cars finally leave the pitlane behind the Safety Car.
As the time remaining ticks down to 39 minutes Verstappen leads the pack away with Leclerc in second and Perez in third while Vettel (Aston Martin) and Latifi (Williams) pit immediately for the intermediate tyres.
And with 35 minutes left the top ten drivers pit for the intermediate tyres which are clearly quicker at this stage. Alonso (Alpine) now leads with Ricciardo (McLaren) in second and Schumacher (Haas) in third, all the top three are still on wet tyres at this point with Verstappen out in fourth so the Dutchman has the net race lead.
Two minutes later Alonso and Ricciardo pit as Verstappen passes Schumacher down the pit straight for what now is the lead of the race.
And at 32 minutes left Leclerc breezes past Schumacher for second and not long after that Perez passes Schumacher for third.
And after Leclerc goes wide on the final corner fighting off Perez for second - the Stewards deemed Leclerc to have gained an unfair advantage and demoting the title contender down to third which officially gives Max Verstappen his second title in two years.
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