Max Verstappen WINS third consecutive F1 title without even driving in Grand Prix in historic first | The Sun

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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Verstapppen was crowned in QatarCredit: Getty


It was a measured performance from Verstappen, who has enjoyed a season of domination at an unprecedented level.

He'd re-written the record books by winning 10 races in a row – ironically beating former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel who set it in 2013 when all the other teams had stopped developing their cars.

Verstappen, still only 26, has been unstoppable with 13 wins in 16 races – no wonder then, even before this Saturday sprint race, he was relaxed about the prospect of being crowned three-time world champion.

Clearly not one for superstition, he spoke about still having plans to celebrate his title win, despite still having Sunday's Qatar GP to come.

This championship has looked inevitable as soon as Perez's limp chance of challenging him wilted as easy as the Miami GP only the fifth race of the season.

As he crossed the line he was congratulated by team boss Christian Horner, who said: "Max you are a three-time world champion. That's unbelievable. Incredible year for you."

Verstappen replied: "Yeah unbelievable guys. I don't know what to say. Thank you for providing me with such a car. It's been a lot of fun this year.

"I just want to say a big thank you to everyone here at the track and back at the factory, putting all the effort in.

"To be able to achieve something like this, I can't thank you all enough. Besides all the performance related stuff, it's just really enjoyable to work with you all. That's the most important thing at the end."

Piastri produced an excellent drive for his first win in F1 while his McLaren teammate Lando Norris was third. Russell was fourth and Lewis Hamilton was fifth.

Meanwhile, F1 chiefs will discover today (SUN) if they can run the Qatar Grand Prix as intended or force teams to make extra pitstops on safety grounds.

The sport's governing body, the FIA, are worried about some of the new kerbs at the Lusail International Circuit causing damage to their tyres.

The problem was highlighted by tyre suppliers Pirelli at 10:30pm on Friday night, who investigated the sets of tyres used by the drivers in the solitary practice session and qualifying on Friday night.

However, despite informing the FIA, teams were not told about the risks until 14 HOURS later, sparking outrage among the drivers, who requested an urgent meeting.

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They were reassured by F1 but pending further investigations, the FIA could stipulate THREE pitstops to prevent blowouts.

Somewhat incredibly, the international sporting event has not had a single pilot event with an F1 car while there are zero additional races on the schedule – unlike other races on the F1 calendar.

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