In the sprint race at the Qatar Grand Prix, Max Verstappen clinched his third world title, which had seemed probable since the early races of the season.
Max Verstappen has officially become a three-time Formula One champion after winning the Qatar Grand Prix sprint race.
Verstappen arrived in the Middle East needing only three points and with six complete Grand Prix races remaining. Given that he had won 13 of the 16 main races, as well as two of the three sprint events, it appeared to be a formality.
Verstappen joined legends of the sport such as Ayrton Senna and Jackie Stewart in becoming a three-time world champion. Verstappen’s easiest title to date, following his controversial victory over Lewis Hamilton in 2021 and a good fight with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the first half of 2022.
Given his brilliance and speed of the dominant Red Bull, Verstappen’s third title was looked a formality since the early races of the season. He still needs four more world titles to draw level with Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, who both have seven each.
A fourth world championship would draw him level with fellow Red Bull legend Sebastian Vettel, who won all of his titles with the Milton Keynes-based team, and Frenchmen Alain Prost. Third on the list between Hamilton and Schumacher is Argentine icon Juan Manuel Fangio, who won his five titles in the 1950s.
The title was handed to Verstappen when Sergio Perez crashed out at turn two in the 12th lap. Perez veered into the gravel along with Nico Hulkenberg.
He needed a top three finish to keep the title alive going into the main race on Sunday. Unfortunately, he was left staring into the distance, hands on hips at the Lusail International Circuit.
Verstappen was lingering around third and fourth at the time of Perez’s collision. The Dutchman was sitting pretty, as he only needed three points to secure his third consecutive world championship.