How Max Verstappen can clinch the title at the Japanese Grand Prix


Max Verstappen can win his second world championship at the Japanese Grand Prix on Oct. 9.

Verstappen had his first chance of wrapping up the title in Singapore last week, although it was always a long shot — as it turned out, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc, the only two drivers with a mathematical chance of denying him the championship, finished first and second as Verstappen struggled to seventh.

The Dutch driver has a much more realistic chance of winning the title at Suzuka, which hosts its first race since 2019.

How it stands currently

Verstappen holds a healthy lead in the championship.

He leads Leclerc by 104 points and Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez by 106 points, with five races and a maximum of 138 points left to play for – in previous years that might have been 130 points remaining, but November’s Brazilian Grand Prix has an extra eight points on offer due to the fact it is hosting a sprint race on Saturday.

To be crowned champion at Suzuka, Verstappen needs to be 112 points clear of the second placed driver in the championship as he would win a head-to-head countback tiebreak with either driver, given how many races he has won.

Clinching scenarios

If Verstappen wins the race

If Verstappen wins the race and claims the extra point for fastest lap, he will win the title regardless of where Leclerc and Perez finish.

If Verstappen wins the race and does not claim the extra point for fastest lap, Leclerc can only keep the title fight alive for the U.S. Grand Prix by finishing second. Any lower and he will be out of contention.

A Verstappen victory will eliminate Perez from contention, regardless of who scores the fastest lap bonus point.

If Verstappen does not win the race

Verstappen must outscore Leclerc by a minimum of six points and Perez by a minimum of eight points to win the championship.

F1’s points are handed out for the top ten finishers as such: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1, with a bonus point for anyone who sets the fastest lap (provided they finished in the top ten).

Verstappen cannot win the title if he finishes seventh or lower.

How dominant has Verstappen’s season been?

This isn’t quite uncharted territory for an F1 driver. If Verstappen wins the title at the Japanese Grand Prix he will be the third driver to wrap up a championship with four races left to run. Only Michael Schumacher (2001 and 2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2011) managed to do so previously.

A victory in Japan seems like a reasonable bet. Verstappen has won 11 of the 17 races this season. Perez’s win in Singapore snapped a run of five straight wins for his teammate. By contrast, Leclerc and Perez have won a combined five races across the entire year.


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