Formula 1: The ‘championship’ Max Verstappen only leads by 3 points

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /

The gap between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez sits at three points higher than Perez’s point total heading into the 2023 Formula 1 season finale.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen clinched the 2023 Formula 1 world championship, his third in a row, quite some time ago, doing so with a record-tying six races remaining on the 22-race schedule when he finished runner-up in the sprint race ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix at Lusail International Circuit in early October.

In doing so, Verstappen became the first driver to win the season opener and the world championship in the same season since Nico Rosberg in 2016, and he became the first driver to lead the world championship standings after every race on the schedule since Lewis Hamilton led wire-to-wire en route to his own third title in 2015.

Verstappen has won a record 18 of the 21 races that have been contested in 2023 season so far, with a record 10-race win streak highlighting the sport’s all-time most dominant season.

He is riding another six-race win streak heading into Sunday’s season finale at Yas Marina Circuit, where he has a chance to claim sole possession of third place on the all-time wins list with his 54th victory.

Even without winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, his 2023 win percentage would break the all-time single season record, and by a wide margin.

But to keep things interesting at the front, let’s focus on a Formula 1 “championship” Max Verstappen is only leading by three points.

With 549 points, Verstappen sits 276 points ahead of teammate Sergio Perez, who has clinched a career-high second place in the standings and is the only other driver with multiple victories in 2023. Perez has scored 273 points this season. Can he avoid finishing the season with less than half of Verstappen’s point total?

Verstappen has already clinched the constructor championship (on his own), with Red Bull’s point total being more than twice than that of second place Mercedes, and he has a chance to end the 2023 season with the gap between himself and Perez being higher than Perez’s point total.

Right now, the gap leads Perez by three points.

Verstappen is set to start Sunday’s 58-lap race around the 16-turn, 3.281-mile (5.28-kilometer) road course from the pole position for the fourth straight year, while Perez is set to start in ninth place.

Drivers from seven different teams are represented by the eight drivers starting ahead of Perez, further nullifying the half-baked argument that Verstappen’s dominance has been driven strictly by the strength of the RB19.

Next. All-time Formula 1 wins list. dark

Tune in to ESPN at 7:55 a.m. ET for the live broadcast of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from Yas Marina Circuit this Sunday, November 26. Begin a free trial of FuboTV today if you have not already done so!