Explained | When could Max Verstappen clinch 2023 Formula One Championship

The Formula One 2023 Championships has turned out to be a one-horse race as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads the standings with 374 points before he takes centre stage at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday, September 17. The Dutchman has been breaking records left, right, and centre throughout the season as he targets an 11th straight win at the Singapore GP. With an unprecedented 145-point lead over second place Sergio Perez and eight races to go, it is a matter of time before he clinches his third consecutive Formula One Championship.

The 25-year-old has been in the form of his life for Red Bull this season and could be seen scripting history and joining the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, and Lewis Hamilton for winning three consecutive Formula One Championships. Enjoying the form of his life, Max has so far won 12 races and has finished on the podium every time he has completed the race this season. So with eight races to go what are the permutations that could see Verstappen seal the title at the earliest?

Currently, with eight races to go Max will be pushing for an early championship win with races coming thick and fast. In detail, each Formula One race winner will earn 25 points with an additional point for the fastest lap, which could account for a total of 26 points. Additionally, a sprint race (an additional form of race on Saturday with short distances) could see a driver earn eight more points to add to his tally. For example, if Verstappen wins the sprint race on Saturday and couples it with victory in the main race with the fastest lap, he will earn 34 points (25 points for the main race win, one point for the fastest lap, and eight points for the sprint race win).

On the contrary, the second-place driver could earn a maximum of 25 points (18 for finishing second in the main race and max. seven in the sprint race). This could see Verstappen increase his advantage by nine points (34 – 25 = 9 Points) every sprint race weekend. In the eight remaining Formula One races, there will be three sprint races – Qatar, Brazil, and the USA.

Five races in Singapore, Japan, Las Vegas, Mexico, and Abu Dhabi won’t have sprint races. So a driver winning the race on a normal weekend with the fastest lap could earn a maximum of 26 points while the second-place driver will earn 18 points. This could see the winner of the main race increase the gap by eight points (26-18= 8) on a non-sprint weekend.

How many points remain to play for?

As things stand, the maximum points collected by a driver could be 34 on a sprint race weekend and 26 points for a non-sprint race weekend. With five non-sprint races and three sprint races a maximum of 232 points could be collected by a driver if he wins all the races with the fastest lap and sprint race win (5 x 26 + 3 x 34 = 232).

When could Verstappen seal the title?

Currently, Verstappen has 364 points in 14 races while his close compatriot and Red Bull colleague Sergio Perez has 219 points in the second place. For Verstappen to win the championship, the gap between him and Perez should be more than the number of points available in the rest of the races. For example, currently, the gap between Verstappen and Perez is 145 points which is smaller than 232 points (points still available this season) and will see the Championship race continue.

If Verstappen wins the next two races in Singapore and Japan (non-sprint weekend) with the fastest point, he will increase his lead over Perez by 16 points (eight points advantage for every winner on non-sprint weekend). This could see the gap widen to 161 points (145+16 = 161) while there will be 180 points still available, this will make it practically impossible for Verstappen to win the Championship in Japan.

However, if Verstappen wins the Qatar GP on 8th October with the sprint race and fastest lap, Verstappen will have an unprecedented lead of 170 points (161 + 9 = 170). With just 146 points available after the Qatar GP and a lead of 170 points, Verstappen will win the Formula One Championship even if does not start any one of the remaining five races in the remainder of the season.

The two-time defending champion can also see the title race sealed in the Japanese GP if he wins the race and Perez fails to complete one of the next two races. For example, if Verstappen wins the next two races with the fastest lap, he will have 416 points (374 + 52). Perez on the other hand will have 234 points if he fails to finish one race and finishes third (15 points for third place finish) in another race. With only 180 points to race for after the Japanese GP, it would be practically impossible for Perez to catch Verstappen even if he wins all the races with the fastest lap and sprint wins, as he will finish with a tally of 414 points (234 + 180).

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