Max Verstappen‘s been the 2023 Formula 1 World Champion in waiting for months now, but has the chance to officially win his third consecutive title at the Qatar Grand Prix.
Ever since Verstappen came through the pack and chased down pole-sitter Sergio Perez in the 2023 Miami GP from ninth on the grid, most fans were just counting down the days until the Dutchman claimed his crown.
For all the think pieces dedicated to how Perez could be a legitimate title contender after the best one of his career in Azerbaijan, Verstappen has crushed his teammate every weekend since.
Verstappen‘s removed any doubt in the championship and raised the question of Perez‘s Red Bull career, and could well have won the championship before the lights out at the Qatar GP.
What are the 2023 F1 World Championship permutations?
The sprint weekend adds an extra level of complexity, as Verstappen could win the championship on Saturday.
After Qatar, there’s 146 points left in the championship over the remaining five events, including the sprints in USA and Brazil. Meanwhile, after the sprint there’s 172 still on the table, with eight up for grabs under the Saturday night lights.
Verstappen currently leads by 177 from Perez, with everyone from third-placed Lewis Hamilton down already out of contention.
And even if Verstappen is tied with Perez at the end of the season, the Dutchman is already guaranteed to have more race wins over the season and would claim the championship anyway.
How can Verstappen win the championship in the Qatar GP sprint?
If Verstappen finishes sixth or higher in the sprint then he will be championship before the Qatar GP even gets underway. The top eight drivers score points in the Sprint (8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1).
Even then, the Dutchman’s not likely to go too hard on celebrations with another race to win the next day. However, if he does have either a bad drive or bad luck on Saturday, Perez will need to be at his best.
|Max Verstappen||Sergio Perez|
|9th or lower||3rd|
Can Perez keep the championship alive on Sunday?
Perez must win on Sunday to have any chance of keeping the title race alive until the United States GP on October 20-22. Verstappen was just three points away from wrapping up the title at Suzuka so effectively Perez can only afford to drop two more points over the remainder of the season.
The main thing to remember is that if, by some miracle, Verstappen doesn’t clinch the title on Saturday, he will after the Grand Prix if the deficit is higher than 145 points.