Max Verstappen can win title before Qatar GP even starts as he eyes third crown

Max Verstappen sent offer to quit Red Bull and join F1 rival keen to be his team-mate

Max Verstappen may already be practicing his title celebration and trophy lift as the Red Bull star can clinch the Drivers’ Championship at the Qatar Grand Prix this weekend. But the Dutchman’s dominance has been so devastating that the title battle has been non-existent, and he can seal his hat-trick of consecutive titles without even racing in the main event at the Lusail International Circuit on Sunday.

The 25-year-old will be crowned as a triple world champion in F1 this weekend, barring a terrible incident that would rule him out of the rest of the season. He needs only six points to make it mathematically impossible for him to be caught, although in realistic terms, his destiny was sealed some time ago.

With exactly 400 points, Verstappen currently leads his team-mate Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ standings by a massive 177 points. He is already on course for the biggest margin of victory in F1 history since the points system changed, but Verstappen can wrap it up in record time too.

With seven races remaining, the two-time world champion can hit the cruise button this weekend in Sunday’s race because the sprint race in Qatar offers an opportunity to win up to eight points.

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With only six required to secure the trophy, Verstappen can finish third on the podium in the F1 Sprint and that will be enough to wrap up the silverware. If Verstappen does not finish in the points in the sprint race on Saturday, he can still look forward to popping the champagne on the podium in the Middle East.

As he only needs six points, he would just need to cross the line in eighth place or higher to confirm his title success – something Verstappen has achieved in every race in 2023.

But Verstappen has insisted he would be relatively unbothered if he succeeds in delivering his third title at Red Bull ahead of the race, revealing he doesn’t care when or how early he manages to win the title.

When asked if how he would react after the sprint, he bluntly replied, via “[With] no emotion. If it happens on Saturday, Sunday, or the week after, I know that it’s coming. But it’s not something that I’m thinking about too much.”

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He later added: “Maybe it’s a good thing? A good night out. Might be a bit slower on the reaction time for the lights [on Sunday]. But for me, I don’t really think about it. We’re just experiencing a really amazing year as a team.

“Also I don’t care where I win it. It’s not about ‘You need to win it five races in advance’ or the last one. I don’t know. It’s just not something that I’m really thinking about.”

Red Bull saw their incredible winning streak come to an end in Singapore after Carlos Sainz became the first non-Red Bull driver to win this season.

But Verstappen’s 400-point haul, with 13 wins from 16 races, allowed the team to celebrate back-to-back Constructors’ titles in record time at the Japanese Grand Prix.

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