RACE DEBRIEF

    Red Bull secured back-to-back constructors’ championships with a dominant victory at the Japanese Grand Prix that also puts Max Verstappen on the brink of securing the 2023 drivers’ title. With the Dutchman’s first chance coming at the Qatar Grand Prix, we’re here with the points permutations to explain all…

    A maximum 26-point haul for Verstappen at Suzuka – including the bonus for fastest lap – and team mate Sergio Perez’s retirement means the drivers’ championship can be settled as early as the Sprint race at the Lusail International Circuit.

    READ MORE: Horner revels in ‘the most amazing year’ for Red Bull after securing second constructors’ title in a row

    Verstappen’s 13th win of the season has left him on 400 points, while Perez holds little more than half of that tally on 223, a whopping 177 points adrift with only 180 up for grabs across the final six rounds of the season – a run that includes three Sprints.

    2023

    Drivers’ standings ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix

    POSITION POINTS
    1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 400
    2 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 223
    3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 190
    4 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 174
    5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 150
    6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 135

    Given that Qatar is one of those Sprint rounds, 34 points are on offer over the course of the weekend, from the eight that go to the winner in the 100-kilometre dash to 25 for victory in the main event and one for setting the fastest lap.

    Put simply, Verstappen will be crowned champion in Qatar for a third successive season if he leaves Qatar with a lead of 146 points or more over Perez.

    READ MORE: ‘I’m very proud of everyone’ – Verstappen overjoyed as Suzuka win seals constructors’ crown for Red Bull

    Even if Perez wins the Sprint race, Verstappen will secure the title by finishing sixth or higher. Indeed, Perez needs to finish at least third – with Verstappen also encountering drama – to mathematically remain in contention.

    Verstappen’s points permutations

    Grand Prix Lead required afterwards
    Qatar 146
    United States 112
    Mexico 86
    Brazil 52
    Las Vegas 26
    Abu Dhabi -

    Taking the two extremes of Perez winning the Sprint and Verstappen failing to score, Verstappen would still only need an eighth-place finish in the Grand Prix itself – regardless of Perez’s result – to be crowned champion once again.

    The only way Perez can stay in the hunt beyond Qatar is to win the race and reduce Verstappen’s championship advantage to 145 points. If the pair end up tied on 146, Verstappen would seal the deal thanks to his far superior number of race wins.

    TREMAYNE: Superb engineering, great driving and cohesive teamwork – How Red Bull charged to another F1 constructors’ title