Max Verstappen feels that his 2022 World Championship victory is "better" than his first title win in 2021. The Red Bull driver clinched his second championship by winning the Japanese Grand Prix, which only ran to 28 laps out of a scheduled 53 after the race was delayed by two hours due to heavy rain. With second-placed Charles Leclerc being handed a five-second time penalty for cutting a chicane on the final lap as he tried to hold off a charging Sergio Perez, the Monegasque was pushed down to third, giving Verstappen the points advantage he needed over both Leclerc and Perez to claim the World Championship. Verstappen's dominance en route to his 2022 title marks a contrast to last year's championship battle, where the Dutchman and rival Lewis Hamilton went head-to-head until the controversial final laps of the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Verstappen explains why titles feel different
Reflecting on the differences between his two World Championships, Verstappen believes that his second title is the one in which he has performed more strongly. "I think the first one is always the most emotional, but I think this one is definitely the better one, just in terms of performance," the 25-year-old told media after the race at Suzuka. Given the tense nature of the 2021 championship fight, Verstappen admits that the emotions involved in that particular season were not always as pleasant as in 2022. "[There are] very different emotions," he explained. "Last year, all the way till the last race is probably the worst kind of feeling, going into that last race. But also because at the time, I don't think we were the quickest anymore, so that also doesn't help. "And this year, I think it's just been very, very different in emotions from the start, all the way through the year."
Both championships are "beautiful", says Verstappen
Despite the contrasting emotions involved in each of his title-winning seasons, Verstappen values the experience of both. "Both are beautiful and both are, at the end of the day, nice to experience," the driver added. "Because it's nice also [to] really have always the pressure on, and having to perform to your limit every single lap of the race, but not for too many years in a row. "So I was very happy with the year we had this time around."