How Max Verstappen can win F1 championship at Japanese GP

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How Max Verstappen can win F1 championship at Japanese GP, Max Verstappen win championship at Japanese GP

Max Verstappen missed the opportunity to make it back-to-back Formula 1 Drivers Championship triumphs in the Singapore Grand Prix, but his eighth-place finish means he is in a great position to do so in Japan next weekend.

Only Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez are still in a position to dethrone the reigning champion with five races of the season remaining, with Mercedes’ George Russell being eliminated from contention after failing to score points in Singapore.

Here, we take a look at the scenarios needed for the 25-year-old to secure his second world championship in this weekend’s race at Suzuka…

How it stands

Following the Singapore Grand Prix, Verstappen leads the way in the drivers’ standings with 341 points heading into the Japanese Grand Prix, 104 clear of Leclerc in second place and 106 ahead of third-placed Perez.

He needs to be 112 points clear after the race at Suzuka to ensure he has clinched the title with four races of the season to go, which would make him only the third driver after Michael Schumacher (2001 and 2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2011) to secure the crown with four races left.

Including the upcoming Grand Prix in Japan, there are a maximum of 138 points up for grabs across the remaining races if fastest lap bonus points and the eight for winning the sprint race at next month’s Brazilian Grand Prix are taken into account along with the 25 awarded for Grand Prix wins.

What happens if Verstappen wins in Japan?

Victory at Suzuka will see Verstappen crowned champion if Leclerc finishes lower than second.

However, victory with the bonus point for the fastest lap will ensure he retains his title irrespective of where the Ferrari man finishes.

Verstappen also has the advantage of head-to-head in terms of the tiebreaker of race wins, currently leading Leclerc 11-3, should the two end the year level on points.

A win in Japan would ensure Perez can no longer win the title no matter where he finishes in the race.

What if Leclerc or Perez finish ahead of Verstappen?

Verstappen will not be crowned champion in Japan if Leclerc or Perez finish ahead of him. He would therefore have to wait until the following race in the USA to potentially seal the title.

The Dutchman definitely cannot win the title in Japan if he finishes outside the top six.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

How can Verstappen win the title without finishing first?

If he fails to win in Japan, Verstappen needs to score a minimum of eight more points than Leclerc and a minimum of six more points than Perez to be crowned champion.

If Verstappen finishes second, Leclerc would have to finish higher than sixth or to keep the title race alive. Fifth is only good enough if he gets the fastest lap. Perez could prolong the title race by finishing fourth or third if Verstappen takes the bonus point.

If Verstappen finishes third with the fastest lap bonus point, Leclerc will have to finish fifth or higher or Perez needs to finish a minimum of fourth to deny him.

If the reigning champion finishes third without the bonus point, sixth place for Leclerc or fourth place for Perez will be enough to keep the title race going beyond the weekend.

If Verstappen finishes fourth, Leclerc needs to finish at least seventh regardless of whether his title rival claims a bonus point or not. Perez would need to finish sixth or seventh with the bonus point.

A fifth-place finish for Verstappen would see Leclerc have to finish no lower than eighth or Perez seventh.

A sixth-place finish for Verstappen at Suzuka would mean he could only win the title if Leclerc finishes outside the points. Perez could extend the title race by finishing ninth or eighth with a bonus point.

F1 returns next weekend with the Japanese Grand Prix and all sessions are live on Sky Sports F1 including the race at 6 am on Sunday, October 9.

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