How soon can Verstappen win the F1 world title?
Max Verstappen heads to the Singapore Grand Prix on the verge of one of the most dominant F1 world title wins of all time.
The Red Bull driver’s recent victory at the Italian Grand Prix means he could wrap up the championship on October 2 if he wins and his nearest rivals fail to pick up enough points to stay in touch.
Here we look at exactly what is required and how it would compare to some of the sport’s greats.
What Verstappen needs
Verstappen has won 11 races out of 16 this season and leads second-placed Charles Leclerc by 116 points heading to Singapore, the first of the six remaining races.
There will be a possible 138 points available in the five races after that – five race wins at 25 points each, a fastest lap point at each and eight points for the sprint race winner in Sao Paulo – so with his unassailable advantage in race wins Verstappen will need to add 22 to his lead to wrap it up at the first opportunity.
That requires victory in Singapore, which he is 4/9 to achieve, and would also realistically need Leclerc not to finish. The six points for a seventh-placed finish would keep the Frenchman within range and even eighth, and four points, would be enough if Verstappen does not post the fastest lap.
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That would also leave Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez, next in the standings, needing third place – or fourth with the fastest lap – to stay in touch.
Fourth-placed George Russell would be out of contention – the Mercedes ace could match Verstappen’s points total if he finished second with a fastest lap, but without a race win all season he could not make up the difference on countback.
Earliest F1 world titles
Only once has the Formula One world title been won with more than five races to spare, Michael Schumacher’s 2002 success with six remaining.
Nigel Mansell won it with five to spare in 1992 and, while the ever-changing number of races makes comparisons across eras difficult, Verstappen would join the Englishman in second by that measure.
Each of those wins came in race 11 of the season, a 17-race campaign for Schumacher and 16 for Mansell (pictured below). Schumacher, twice, and Sebastian Vettel have won titles with four races to spare.
Verstappen’s first chance comes in race 17 of 22 and would be the earliest in seasons of at least 20 races. There have been six such campaigns previously, three won by Lewis Hamilton with two races to spare and the others going down to the final race – won by Vettel in 2012, Nico Rosberg in 2016 and Verstappen himself last season.
The Dutchman has won 77.5 per cent of the available points this season and could be on course for only the fourth three-figure winning margin in F1 – though again, different point systems play their part in that, with the previous three belonging to Vettel (155 points in 2013 and 122 in 2011) and Hamilton (124 points in 2020).
A fairer comparison is the percentage lead and Verstappen, currently with 53 per cent more points than Leclerc, is on record pace by that measure.
Mansell, and Jacques Villeneuve five years later, won with just over 48 per cent more points than their nearest challengers. Schumacher, Jackie Stewart and Juan Manuel Fangio exceeded a 40 per cent winning margin twice each.
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