Max Verstappen is on the brink of claiming his third consecutive drivers’ title.
It has been anticipated for some time that the standout Red Bull driver would clinch the win for 2023 – his first real shot might be next weekend in Qatar.
“It actually dawns on me that Red Bull is not only the constructors’ champion now, but also the drivers’ world champion,” Dutch GP boss Jan Lammers told NOS.
The only rival who can theoretically surpass Verstappen now is his own Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.
However, if Mexican Perez manages to take the top spot in the sprint race in Qatar next Saturday, Verstappen only needs to secure sixth to seize the drivers’ title.
Should Verstappen not achieve that on Saturday, and Perez wins the main race on Sunday, Verstappen merely has to cross the line in eighth.
“I will of course try to have it decided on Saturday,” the Dutchman said.
“I think we should be good there.”
He secured his second title in Japan the previous year.
“It has taken longer this year because there are so many races,” he said. “The whole year has been very dominant, except for Singapore of course.”
While the team had a subdued celebration for the constructors’ title last weekend in Suzuka, grand plans are afoot for a true celebration in Qatar.
“If we also have the drivers’ title, we will celebrate as a team,” team head Christian Horner shared. “We had a few beers (in Japan) but the job isn’t done yet.”
Dr. Helmut Marko didn’t partake in the minor festivities in Japan, departing Suzuka straight after the race.
“We had a pretty tight schedule,” the team advisor told ORF. “The engineers and mechanics had to be in Tokyo at ten o’clock, so they had to get out of Suzuka by five.
“We still have some work to do before we go to Doha (Qatar) anyway.”
Yet, he concedes a significant team gathering is very likely the following weekend.
“Hopefully yes,” the 80-year-old grinned. “It will be an expensive party, because while there is alcohol in Qatar, the prices are scary.
“We’ll have to be careful with the budget limit,” Marko chuckled.