FOR once he didn't win, but Max Verstappen's second-place finish in the Qatar GP sprint race was enough to clinch him the F1 title.
In what has felt like the longest procession in F1 history, finally the Red Bull ace has his third world crown – and there are still SIX races to go.
F1 have introduced these 30-minute sprint races to liven up the action, strategically placing three of them towards the end of the year in the hope of prolonging a title fight.
But there was not a chance of taking this championship to the wire – especially with Sergio Perez's intent on making life difficult for himself.
The Mexican is under mounting pressure to justify his place in the team after a number of poor performances.
He's been openly criticised by Red Bull's motorsport advisor Helmut Marko on repeated occasions.
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And he did himself no favours here after a poor qualifying and getting taken out of the sprint race by Esteban Ocon.
With Perez eliminated, Verstappen was crowned world champion before the race had even ended.
Verstappen started third and made a conservative start as he plotted his way through the early laps.
He mounted a late charge, passing George Russell to move into second place but ultimately yielded to Oscar Piastri, who won for McLaren.
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