Max Verstappen to continue Red Bull’s title celebrations

It would be the surprise of the season if Max Verstappen fails to secure his third Formula One world championship in Qatar this weekend. The dominant Red Bull driver, who turned 26 last weekend, has two chances to wrap things up on a sprint weekend with points to be scored in races on both Saturday and Sunday at the Lusail circuit.

Verstappen needs only three points, regardless of the results his teammate and sole title rival Sergio Perez achieves. That means a sixth place in the 100km sprint would make him the first champion to secure the title on a Saturday since Brazilian Nelson Piquet in the 1980s.

It will also add another footnote for the sport’s statisticians to argue over since he would have won the title with six grands prix to spare but with five full weekends remaining. The chances of Verstappen not scoring three points look, on paper, about as slim as the race being rained off.

Verstappen is chasing his 14th victory in 17 races this year, after dominating the previous round in Japan and winning a record 10 in a row up to Singapore, and has won two of the three sprints so far.

The Dutch driver has yet to finish lower than fourth in a sprint race since the format was introduced in 2021 and this season has so far amassed 400 points – more even than second placed Mercedes with two drivers.

The last time he came away from a grand prix weekend with less than three points was in Australia in April 2022 when he retired due to a fuel leak – a run of 35 races in the points. In fact Verstappen may not even need to score if Perez, who has not beaten Verstappen in any race since Baku in April, fails to take enough points to stay mathematically in contention. The Mexican is 177 points adrift with 180 still available.

Qatar did not host a race last year due to hosting the soccer World Cup but in 2021, when it made its debut on the calendar in a Middle Eastern triple header with Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, Lewis Hamilton won from pole for Mercedes. Verstappen still set the fastest lap and will not be easing off on Sunday even if he has already clinched the title as he chases more records.

Red Bull have already secured the constructors’ championship but the teams behind them still have plenty to fight for, with Hamilton also only 33 points adrift of Perez in the drivers’ standings.

Mercedes are only 20 points clear of third-placed Ferrari while fifth-placed McLaren are 49 adrift of Aston Martin but hopeful of closing the gap after three podium placings from the last two races.

At the bottom of the team standings, AlphaTauri will have New Zealander Liam Lawson standing in for injured Australian Daniel Ricciardo for the fifth race in a row. The circuit has been resurfaced since Formula One’s last visit and the kerbs also modified.

The high-speed track is challenging for tyres and the sprint format is an added complication with only one practice session on Friday in the heat of the day for races that will be in cooler night temperatures.

“Everything is in place for an interesting weekend as well as perhaps a few surprises; the ability to adapt quickly and well to the track could deliver a significant advantage,” said Pirelli’s motorsport head Mario Isola.

Source: eNCA

In other news – Blaq Diamond reveals DJ Maphorisa believed in them before they got signed to a label

Blaq Diamond expresses gratitude to DJ Maphorisa for believing in them.

Blaq diamond and Maphorisa1

The musical duo announced a collaboration with the OG and shared moments when they were working on the song in the studio. Read more

Back to top button