POINTS PERMUTATIONS: What Verstappen needs to do to win his second drivers’ crown in Japan
Max Verstappen didn’t manage to wrap up the drivers’ title in Singapore, but he could well do so in Japan this weekend. The Red Bull man needed other results to go his way at Marina Bay, but the good news for him and his team is that now, his future is in his own hands.
He sits at the top of the standings with 341 points and 11 wins to his name, leading Charles Leclerc by 104 points heading into the 18th round of the season at Suzuka. Sergio Perez lies third, two points behind Leclerc.
READ MORE: Verstappen explains botched start as he endures ‘very frustrating’ run to P7 at Marina Bay
Verstappen needs to finish the Japanese Grand Prix weekend with a lead of 112 points to take the title this weekend.
So if he wins in Japan with the bonus point for fastest lap, he will be crowned champion for a second straight year. That’s because even if Leclerc finished second and then won every other race with the bonus point for fastest lap, and won the Sprint in Brazil, he could only tie the Dutchman’s points tally at best.
But Verstappen would still have a superior win record, with 12 victories to a potential maximum of seven for the Ferrari man.
But if Verstappen wins with Leclerc coming home second and taking the fastest lap bonus point, the title fight will stay alive. If Leclerc wins, the title battle also stays alive until Austin two weeks’ later at least. Ditto if Perez wins, regardless of where Verstappen finishes.
But if the Dutchman came home second, to clinch the title he would need Leclerc to finish fifth or lower without the bonus point, and Perez fourth or lower without the bonus point.
READ MORE: Horner hails ‘world class’ Perez but says Verstappen was carrying a ‘big wound’ in Singapore
Under the current F1 points system (25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 and a bonus point for fastest lap) it means there are various other permutations to consider ahead of Japan if Verstappen doesn’t manage to win or come home second on Honda’s home soil.
So Verstappen will take the title in Japan if...
|1st with FL bonus point||Position irrelevant||Position irrelevant|
|1st||3rd or lower||Position irrelevant|
|2nd||5th or lower without bonus point||4th or lower without bonus point|
|2nd with bonus point||5th or lower||4th or lower|
|3rd||7th or lower||6th or lower|
|3rd with bonus point||6th or lower||5th or lower|
|4th||8th or lower without bonus point||7th or lower without bonus point|
|4th with bonus point||8th or lower||7th or lower|
|5th||9th without bonus point or lower||8th or lower without bonus point|
|5th with bonus point||9th or lower||8th or lower|
|6th||Out of the points||9th or lower without bonus point|
|6th with bonus point||10th or lower||9th or lower|
Heading into Singapore, it seemed unlikely Verstappen would finish down the order given his recent dominance but that is exactly what happened. As such, no possibilities in Suzuka can be ruled out, especially given that F1 hasn’t raced there since 2019.
But the Dutchman has spoken of his desire to wrap up the title at the home race of Honda, so you can be sure he'll be going all out for that win.
As for the constructors’, Red Bull have a 137-point advantage over Ferrari, with 235 points left on the table. Even if they were to win the race in Japan and score a one-two with the bonus point, the constructors’ fight would still go on to the USA thanks to Ferrari’s double podium in Singapore, regardless of where the Scuderia finish next weekend.