At the end of a race interrupted in the 3rd lap, for two hours, due to weather conditions and two retirements, Verstappen (Red Bull) crossed the line in front of Leclerc and Sergio Pérez (Red Bull).
But Leclerc was finally penalized five seconds, for having cut a corner on the last lap, under pressure from Pérez, and lost his 2nd place to the Mexican. This change allowed the 25-year-old Dutchman to be titled, as in 2021, after a very confused end to the Grand Prix.
At first, he himself did not believe it: questioned hotly, Verstappen was pleased with the victory but admitted that he would have to wait for the next race in the United States to be titled.
But then Leclerc received his penalty, just before stepping onto the podium, for "gaining an advantage" against the chasing Pérez, which dropped him to 3rd place. Enough to headline "Mad Max".
We therefore questioned Verstappen again telling him that he was finally champion: "It's crazy, my feelings are shared", he reacted incredulously.
"The first (title) was a little more moving, the second is more beautiful", he continued, under the "World Champion" banners deployed.
Verstappen is now 113 points ahead of Pérez, who passes 2nd in the championship, and 114 points over Leclerc. He can no longer be joined because there are a maximum of 112 points left to distribute in four races (25 for a victory, 1 for a best lap in the race).
In the confusion, Verstappen therefore won a second title, as in 2021 in Abu Dhabi after a chaotic end to the race against Lewis Hamilton.
Crowned with four races to go, Verstappen becomes one of the earliest titled world champions in the season.
The German Michael Schumacher, in 2002, and the Briton Nigel Mansell, in 1992, did better by winning the world Grail six and five Grands Prix respectively from the end of the season. At a time when the seasons were much shorter...