Max Verstappen will be chasing history at the Singapore Grand Prix, which returns to the Formula One calendar after two years, as he will have the chance to secure his second world driver’s title this weekend around the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
The reigning champion will turn 25 on Friday and could cap off his birthday weekend in style if he can join an elite list of only 16 drivers who have won multiple titles. The Red Bull driver has a lead of 116 points over nearest rival Charles Leclerc of Ferrari and will need a 138-point lead by the end of Sunday over the pursuing pack to leave Singapore as a double world champion.
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To seal the title under glittering lights at the place that birthed the first night race in F1 history, Verstappen needs to do something he has not done before - win the Singapore GP and hope his rivals have a poor weekend.
Verstappen’s best finish has been second here in 2018, but he has never come here with a Red Bull car that has had a chance of winning. While the second title is almost a foregone conclusion barring an unusual set of jeopardy over the next six races, to seal it this weekend Verstappen needs to gain 22 points over his main rival Leclerc, 13 points over team-mate Sergio Perez and six over George Russell. Also, he needs to ensure Carlos Sainz doesn’t outscore him by 11 points.
Though his maiden title in 2021 came under controversial circumstances in the Abu Dhabi GP last year, Verstappen’s second title is set to be one without any such asterisks attached to it. The 24-year-old is on a five-race winning streak having won 11 races this year already. He is on track to beat the record of most wins in a season which is 13 held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
In races he has completed this year, he has finished outside the podium only once - at the British GP - due to circumstances outside his control as his car collected debris which affected its performance.
After new rules were introduced at the start of the year, Verstappen took time to get used to the new generation of cars with his team-mate Perez matched evenly in performance at the start of the year. However, as the car has been developed, Verstappen has been able to find a higher level of performance from the machinery and is on course for his second title.