Christian Horner expects rule change after confusion over points in Suzuka
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner expects a change to the rules on awarding full points in races that have not gone the distance after Max Verstappen was crowned world champion in confusing circumstances following Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Verstappen took the chequered flag at a rain-soaked Suzuka, with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez promoted to second after Ferarri’s Charles Leclerc was handed a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage on the final lap.
However, because the race had ended when the time limit expired and not when the full number of laps had been completed, confusion reigned as to how many points would be awarded.
The majority of the pit lane, including Verstappen and Red Bull, believed half-points would be given as the race had not passed 75 per cent distance – but the regulations state that, as the grand prix had been resumed following a delay of over two hours due to rain, full points would be given.
That left Verstappen with a second world championship – even if Horner did not know it at the time – and the team principal now believes the rules, introduced following farcical scenes at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, will once again be looked at.
“I’m certain it will be,” he said when asked if teams would speak to the FIA, F1’s governing body, to revise the regulation.
“We were confused and we thought it would not have been the full awards (of points). So initially, our calculations were such that he was not world champion.
“I think it’s a mistake that wasn’t included after the issues in Spa last year, that the regulations obviously haven’t been mopped up.
“We were under the strong impression that only with 75 per cent of the race, full points will be scored. So we felt we were going to be one point short.
“But in the end, Checo’s move on Charles nailed Max the championship. So you can see his surprise, the team’s surprise. But what a wonderful surprise.”
The drivers were unable to complete a full racing lap after the race began in rainy conditions, Carlos Sainz’s crash bringing out the safety car on lap one before the red flag then halted proceedings.
An aborted restart followed as the intensity of the downpour increased, with racing finally restarting well over two hours later.
Verstappen, who mastered the conditions after the restart to win comfortably, believes F1 needs improved wet-weather tyres from Pirelli to allow for more racing on wet tracks.
“I don’t want to take a dig at anyone, but I think we need better rain tyres,” he said after being crowned champion.
“If you saw what we could do in the 1990s or the early 2000s with the amount of water on the track, I’m very happy to have a few test days and try all different kinds of tyres.
“But we need better rain tyres, because I think the extremes are just slow and they can’t really carry a lot of water away.
“That’s why nobody really wants to run that extreme and when it rained like it did when the red flag came out, if you would have have put extreme tyres on, I think it would still be really difficult to drive, but then if you compare that to 20 years ago, that would’ve been perfectly fine.
“So there must be a solution. Like I said, this is not criticism, because I’m very happy to help out.
“We should look into it. Maybe we could all just organise more test days in the wet and work together to try and find better tyres to at least have an opportunity to really drive in the wet and not always only drive two laps on an extreme, switch to intermediates and call it a wet race – because a wet race is also normally driven in heavy rain.”