Max Verstappen seals 2023 F1 world title during Qatar sprint race

The irrepressible Red Bull driver clinched his third straight championship in Lusail on Saturday

Kieran Jackson
Formula 1 Correspondent
Saturday 07 October 2023 19:40 BST
Verstappen “Not Afraid Of Losing” In Pursuit Of 3rd World Title

Max Verstappen has won the 2023 F1 world championship after Sergio Perez crashed in the sprint race at the Qatar Grand Prix on Saturday night.

Red Bull driver Verstappen, 26, has won an astonishing 13 out of 16 races this season as well as two of the four sprint races, which includes a memorable 12-race (including sprints) win streak from Miami in May to Italy in September.

Needing to only finish in the top six to seal the title in the shortened 100km dash at the Lusail International Circuit on Saturday night, Verstappen now cannot be caught by second-placed team-mate Sergio Perez with six races and two sprints to go, after Perez crashed in the sprint.

The Dutchman in the end finished second, behind first-time F1 winner Oscar Piastri for McLaren, with Lando Norris finishing third.

After sealing the long-awaited title, the Dutchman becomes just the fifth man in the sport’s 73-year history to win three championships on the spin. He also becomes the first driver in 40 years to win the championship on a Saturday.

Since winning the opening race in Bahrain, Verstappen has been borderline unstoppable. While Perez triumphed in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan – either side of Verstappen winning in Australia – the Dutchman displayed a statement of intent by winning from ninth on the grid in Miami in May.

From that moment on, the 26-year-old was indomitable, storming to a startling 10 victories on the spin, breaking Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine consecutive victories from 2013.

Max Verstappen has claimed his third F1 world title in Qatar

Highlights include a terrific pole-snatching qualifying session in Monaco, denying Fernando Alonso, as well as impressive drives to first in Montreal, Austria and Budapest. He also tasted victory at July’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone – a race he had not previously won.

And while his win streak ended surprisingly with a weekend to forget in Singapore last month, Verstappen soon returned to form a week later with a simple lights-to-flag win in Japan.

Now, Verstappen will be eyeing four titles on the spin and the omens look good: out of the four drivers (Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton) to have won three in a row, all have gone on to make it four on the spin.

This year, too, he can break his own record for most wins in a single season, set last year at 15. He is currently on 13 ahead of Sunday’s grand prix in Qatar – which he is on pole for – and the five races that follow.

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