Verstappen calls winning third title ‘a fantastic feeling’ as he joins elite club after Qatar Sprint
Max Verstappen has hailed the feeling of winning a third Formula 1 World Championship as “incredible”, as the Dutchman took P2 in the Qatar Sprint – with team mate Sergio Perez’s crash in the 100km dash having handed the title to Verstappen even before he'd crossed the finish line.
Starting on medium tyres, Verstappen fell from P3 on the grid to P5 as the Sprint got under way under the lights at the Lusail International Circuit. But as the medium compound began to come on song, Verstappen quickly moved past the soft-shod cars of Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and George Russell – via a full three Safety Car interventions – to claim P2, as Oscar Piastri held on to win the Sprint.
However, Verstappen’s third consecutive title had been sealed on Lap 11 of 19, as Perez made contact with Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg and crashed into the gravel, rendering the chances of catching Verstappen mathematically impossible.
“Unbelievable guys,” said Verstappen on his cool-down lap. “I don’t know what to say. An incredible year. Thank you for providing me with such a car. It’s been a pleasure so far this year. I just want to say a big thank you to everyone here at the track, back at the factory for putting all the effort in.
“To have been able to achieve something like this, I can’t thank you all enough, and besides all the performance-related stuff, it’s also been a pleasure working with you all, and that’s definitely the most important in the end. Thank you very much.”
Having then climbed out and onto the Red Bull RB19 that, in his hands, has crushed all-comers this season – Verstappen with 13 wins thus far – Verstappen told the media: “Of course, a fantastic feeling. It’s been an incredible year, lots of great races. Of course, super proud… and to be a three-time world champion is just incredible.”
Asked, meanwhile, whether he was already eyeing up future titles, Verstappen replied: “We’ll just see what happens. I’m enjoying the moment and hopefully of course we can keep this momentum going for a while.”
Verstappen’s title completes the double for Red Bull, with the team having sewn up the constructors’ championship last time out in Suzuka – with Verstappen now turning his attention to Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix, where he’ll start from his 10th pole position of the season.
In taking a third title, meanwhile, Verstappen now joins an elite club of Formula 1 drivers, namely Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna.