Max Verstappen is on brink of winning his third Formula 1 drivers’ title and is in line to secure the 2023 championship this weekend at the Qatar Grand Prix.
Verstappen’s 13th win of his extraordinarily dominant season at Suzuka moved him 177 points clear of teammate Sergio Perez, now his sole-remaining mathematical challenger, with only 180 left to play for over the six Grands Prix and three Sprints that remain.
Verstappen therefore needs just three more points in total between now and 2023’s chequered flag in Abu Dhabi on November 26 to join the illustrious ranks of triple F1 champions.
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His first chance comes on F1’s second-ever visit to Qatar’s Losail International Circuit on Saturday and Sunday (Sunday and Monday AEDT).
In a season that Verstappen and Red Bull have already achieved a number of ‘firsts’ in F1 history, another one now presents itself on the morning of Sunday October 8.
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Verstappen will become the first driver to clinch a title in a Sprint race if he finishes sixth or higher (three points or more) in the short-form format on Sunday morning (4:30am AEDT).
That is irrespective of where Perez finishes.
And, in any case, if Perez does not finish in the top three of the Sprint, Verstappen is champion anyway.
Sprints were only introduced into the sport on select Saturdays in 2021, with Qatar the fourth of sixth such events in 2023.
Even if he were to DNF in the Sprint and Perez win it, Max would still need to score just three points in the Grand Prix the next day – and indeed anywhere over the rest of the season – to be sure of the title whatever his teammate does.
QATAR GRAND PRIX START TIME IN AUSTRALIA (All times AEDT)
Practice 1: Saturday 12:30am
Qualifying: Saturday 4am
Sprint Shootout: Sunday 12am
Sprint: Sunday 4:30am
Race: Monday 4am – 57 laps, 5.41km Lusail International Circuit
This article was originally published at Sky Sports and was republished with permission.
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