Max Verstappen, the 26-year-old Dutch driver, is on the verge of securing his third consecutive World title. Since the start of the season, Verstappen has been dominating the championship standings.
Following his victory in the Japanese GP, which marked his 13th win of the year, Verstappen now holds a commanding lead of 177 points over his Red Bull teammate, Checo Pérez, who currently sits in second place. With only six races remaining, a total of 180 points are still up for grabs. However, Verstappen has the opportunity to seal the championship in the sprint race of the Qatar GP. In order to achieve this, he would need to finish ahead of Pérez, ideally in third place or higher.
Recalling Verstappen’s Previous Titles
Verstappen’s first two World Championships were characterized by intense battles. In 2021, the title was decided in the final lap, with a late Safety Car period adding to the tension between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. The pit lane was filled with nerves, and memorable radio exchanges ensued.
A year later, there was no uncertainty until the last moment, but confusion arose regarding the points awarded during the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix. The race was red-flagged due to adverse weather conditions at the Suzuka circuit, with only 28 laps completed. Nevertheless, all the points were awarded, allowing Verstappen to secure the championship.
Helmut Marko, in an interview with Motorsport, recalled the moment of confusion: “I still can’t believe it. We heard it over the public address system, because they were congratulating Max for winning his second championship.“
Verstappen’s Lack of Emotion
Verstappen’s dominant performance this year has somewhat diminished the excitement surrounding the championship resolution. Furthermore, the possibility of clinching the title in a sprint race adds to the debate among Formula 1 fans regarding the inclusion of such events on the calendar. Winning a World Championship in a sprint race could be seen as another controversial way to conclude a title challenge.
“If it happens on Saturday, Sunday, or the following week, I know it will come. But it’s not something I’m thinking about too much.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull driver
When asked if he would like to secure his third crown on Saturday, Verstappen responded by expressing his lack of emotional attachment to the specific timing: “There is no emotion. If it happens on Saturday, Sunday, or the following week, I know it will come. But it’s not something I’m thinking about too much. Maybe it’s a good thing? A good night out. It could be a little slower in the reaction time of the lights (on Sunday). But for me, I don’t really think about that.”
Verstappen and his team have been breaking records throughout the season, and he acknowledges that the championship is virtually guaranteed. “We are having a fantastic year as a team. Besides, I don’t care where I win it. It’s not about ‘You need to win five races first’ or the last one. I don’t know. It’s just not something I’m really thinking about.” Verstappen emphasizes that the opportunity to secure the World Championship does not provide him with additional motivation, as he is committed to giving his best in every race he competes in.