Max Verstappen poised for third Formula One title with rare Saturday title triumph

DOHA – Formula 1 race leader Max Verstappen is poised to win his third straight drivers’ world title at this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix and could even become “Champion” Saturday” the sport’s first in four decades.

The 26-year-old Dutchman, winner of 13 races this season, leads Red Bull teammate and sole remaining championship rival Sergio Perez by 177 points after 16 rounds of the 22-race season.

That luxury advantage means he only needs three points to win again and he could achieve that, or better, in Saturday’s sprint race at Lusail International Circuit.

The winner receives eight points, reduced by one point for each position.

Red Bull has won three previous sprints this campaign – Perez took one win and Verstappen two. It is a record that suggests that the new constructors’ champion, who won the honor for the second consecutive year at the Japanese Grand Prix in September, will once again be favourites.

“It’s great to arrive in Qatar with the constructors’ championship secured,” said a relaxed Verstappen.

“The track in Qatar is really fun to drive, but it’s going to be a tough weekend for all of us because it’s so hot.

“The heat will make racing interesting, especially as we have a sprint race this weekend, so we need to learn as much as we can from Friday’s test before Saturday.”

Regarding his personal victory, he added:
“The drivers’ title can be won on Saturday, so that is our main aim and I hope this will be an unforgettable weekend.”

If Verstappen wins the sprint championship, he will be the first champion on Saturday since Nelson Piquet, the Brazilian father of girlfriend Kelly, won the second of three titles 40 years ago at the 1983 South African Grand Prix.

Four other drivers won the title on Saturday: Juan Manuel Fangio (1955), Jack Brabham (1959), Graham Hill (1962) and Keke Rosberg (1982). After the overwhelming victory in Japan, the Dutchman is expected to maintain the form that helped him have 10 consecutive victories before being defeated with Red Bull in Singapore in mid-September.

However, rivals Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin will be ready to make life difficult for themselves.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes’ seven-time world champion, could shine notably on the new track, where he won his only previous Qatar Grand Prix two years ago in explosive late-season form. award, helping him almost succeed in winning. eighth title.

Meanwhile, Australian Liam Lawson, who impressed in Japan by scoring two points, will replace compatriot Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri for the fifth consecutive race as the former Red Bull driver continues his recovery injury. AFP

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.