Verstappen TWICE denied the euphoria of winning the title thanks to clumsy F1 bosses.. and his future may not be at Red Bull

FOR the second year in a row, Max Verstappen has been crowned world champion in unusual circumstances.

It was the controversial fall of Michael Masi’s management of the Abu Dhabi GP last year that left rival Lewis Hamilton feeling the championship result had been “manipulated”.

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Max Verstappen was named world champion on Sunday… but not by crossing the lineCredit: AP
Verstappen celebrates with a kiss from girlfriend Kelly Piquet

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Verstappen celebrates with a kiss from girlfriend Kelly PiquetCredit: Getty

This time it’s because the rules – somewhat ironically crafted by Masi after the failed Belgian GP in 2021 – were misunderstood.

Not that he needed to – he returned home immediately after Japan – but Verstappen was denied the euphoria of winning a title on both occasions.

He may have missed some of the respect too, because this season he has been magnificent and duly deserves the title for some incredible performances.

I’m sure there will be more titles in the years to come as well, because Red Bull and its development of new engines with the help of Honda, are in an incredibly strong position.

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But whether Verstappen becomes a five-six-seven or, dare I say it, an eight-time world champion, will depend on his relationship with Red Bull.

At the moment, he is clearly part of the better team and has therefore signed a long contract until 2028.

But will he stick with them for the duration? I’m not too sure.

Let’s be honest, like in all sports, F1 is a finicky business and the best drivers want to be on the best team.

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I recently met a source close to the Verstappen camp who told me that while they were all very happy with life at Red Bull, there was a growing feeling that Verstappen and his father were getting closer to the Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff.

Maybe it’s a coincidence. Wolff now lives in Monaco with his family, as does Verstappen.

Or could it be that the two sides were both playing the long game?

Wolff has hinted there will be a new deal for Hamilton, and that makes a lot of sense.

The Brit still has a lot to offer and there are no signs that he is capable of producing a better car than Red Bull, so it would make sense for Verstappen to stay where he is.

However, if the momentum changes and Mercedes is once again able to produce the fastest car on the grid, it could test Verstappen’s loyalty to Red Bull and the terms of his long-term contract.


TAKE THE Mick

MICK SCHUMACHER’s days in F1 could be numbered after another bad weekend for the Haas team.

The German – the son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher – had an accident during practice, which the team took a dim view of.

He also endured a miserable race which saw him finish in 17th place and out of the points.

I understand Haas is considering options to replace him next season and with only one other slot available at Williams – supposedly reserved for American rider Logan Sargeant – then he could find himself without a player for 2023.

Mick Schumacher destroyed his Haas car during Japanese GP practice

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Mick Schumacher destroyed his Haas car during Japanese GP practiceCredit: Splash


THIS IS RAD, CHAD

CONGRATULATIONS to Jamie Chadwick, who was confirmed W Series Champion for 2022.

The Briton has been sensational this season with five wins and a second place in seven races.

Unfortunately, the series won’t be heading to the US or Mexican GPs as planned due to funding, but they plan to return for the 2023 season.

However, 24-year-old Chadwick is expected to leave the championship and race in Indy Lights next season in the United States.

Jamie Chadwick celebrates after winning the W Series

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Jamie Chadwick celebrates after winning the W SeriesCredit: Reuters


TOM UP

Hyundai EXCELR8 driver Tom Ingram won the British Touring Car Championship for the first time after securing two wins in a thrilling season finale at Brands Hatch.

The 29-year-old has been in contention for the title in six successive seasons, but has been the bridesmaid on each of the previous occasions.

But it has now secured Britain’s most coveted motorsport award with top-notch performance.


HAND OF BLOOD

LCR Honda rider Taka Nakagami will miss Australian MotoGP as he recovers from a hand injury.

Nakagami was injured at Motorland Aragon and required surgery to reconnect his finger tendons.

However, instead of resting, he flew to Japan to compete in his home race against medical advice.

But in Japan, he discovered his gloves were filling with blood and soon realized he was unable to compete and had actually done more damage.

He then underwent further surgeries and now faces enforced rest while his body recovers.


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DUCATI’s Alvaro Bautista has opened up a 56 point lead in the World Superbike Series over current champion Toprak Razgatlioglu.

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Bautista’s victory in Portugal on Sunday puts him in the lead with just three sets to play.

Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea was in third place and is also third in the championship, some 82 points behind Bautista.

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