Sergio Perez remains mathematically eligible to win the 2023 Formula 1 world championship. But here’s what it will take to dethrone Max Verstappen.
Two-time reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen got himself much closer to becoming a three-time reigning world champion with his dominant Japanese Grand Prix victory on Sunday at Suzuka Circuit, especially with teammate Sergio Perez being forced to retire his car (twice).
The only two non-Red Bull drivers who were still mathematically in the championship hunt, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, were eliminated in the Japanese Grand Prix.
Verstappen now owns a 177-point lead over Perez with six races left on the 2023 schedule and 180 points still on the table. For all intents and purposes, the title is wrapped up.
But with mathematical elimination having not yet happened for Perez, how could he technically pull it off?
Shy of Max Verstappen randomly calling it quits on his Formula 1 career in the middle of next week, it would take a miracle.
In fact, even then, Perez would need to be perfect and then some.
There are 26 points on offer in each of the six remaining Grands Prix, 25 for winning and one for recording the fastest lap, bringing the total to 156. There are also three remaining sprint races remaining on the schedule, and the winners of those score eight points, bringing the total to 180.
Having won 13 races this season compared to Perez’s two, Verstappen has already secured the tiebreaker over Perez, meaning that Perez needs to outscore his teammate by 178 points, not 177, to win this year’s championship.
If Verstappen scores no points the rest of the way, Perez can only afford to leave two points on the table. The only way this is even possible is if he wins all six remaining Grands Prix, which would require him to double his career win total in a span of less than two months.
Even then, he would need to score 28 more points, meaning that if he takes all six remaining fastest laps, he must average a 1.67 finish in the three remaining sprint races. If he takes five of the six, he must average a 1.33 finish in those sprint races, and if he takes four of the six, he must win all three.
Keep in mind, this assumes Verstappen finishes the season with no more points, and he is literally averaging 25.00 points — a full race win — per race weekend this year.
If Verstappen scores one more point, either via 10th place finish or an eighth place sprint race finish, Perez must score 179 points, which would require an extra fastest lap or an additional place in one of the sprint races.
And if Verstappen scores two more points, Perez must win every remaining Grand Prix — with every remaining fastest lap — and every sprint race.
If Verstappen scores three points, Perez is eliminated.
Three points are paid to the sixth place finisher in a sprint race, meaning that Verstappen, whose worst result in any Grand Prix or sprint race this year is fifth, is likely to wrap up the title ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix at Lusail International Circuit rather than in the main event itself.
Considering what Perez needs to do if Verstappen scores less than three points, it is highly unlikely that Verstappen needs to score at all to seal the deal.
For instance, if Perez were to finish the Qatar sprint race in second place, Verstappen would clinch the title with a seventh place finish. If Perez were to finish in third, Verstappen would clinch with an eighth place finish. And if Perez were to finish fourth or lower, Verstappen would clinch regardless.
But the 25-year-old Dutchman obviously has his eyes on more than just scoring three points over the next two months to seal his third title.
He has won 11 of the last 12 races, including a record-breaking 10 in a row before the recent Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit, and 14 of the last 17 going back to last year.
His 13 wins this season trail only his 15-win mark from last year among all-time single-season win tallies, and excluding his career 48-win mark, his 28 wins since the start of the 2022 season would rank eighth on the all-time wins list.
He has a chance to finish the 2023 season with as many as 19 victories, which would vault him ahead of Alain Prost (51 wins) and Sebastian Vettel (53) for third place on the all-time wins list, behind only Michael Schumacher (91) and Hamilton (103).
There are quite a few other records he can break throughout the rest of the season as well, so don’t think for one second that he plans to take it easy the rest of the way, even if he clinches the title on Saturday, October 7. It’s not in his nature.
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