Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Losail International Circuit, 2021

How Verstappen can clinch the F1 world championship at the next race

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton won the Qatar Grand Prix, but Max Verstappen was able to limit his losses by finishing second and securing the bonus point for fastest lap.

That means Verstappen still has a lead of eight points heading into the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on December 5th. As it’s the penultimate round of the championship, the 24-year-old could clinch his first Formula 1 world championship with one race remaining, but he will need a big result to do it.

If Verstappen wins the race, he would clinch the championship if Hamilton finishes seventh or lower. The odds improve slightly for Verstappen if he wins and finishes with the fastest lap, where he would clinch the title if Hamilton finishes sixth or lower.

Verstappen can clinch the title with a second-place finish, plus the fastest lap, and Hamilton finishing 10th or lower. If Verstappen finishes second but does not secure the fastest lap, he will still clinch the title if Hamilton fails to score.

In each of these scenarios, Verstappen will be guaranteed of the championship if he leads by at least 26 points going into the season finale in Abu Dhabi. If the pair end the season tied on points, the number of wins will first be used to decide who takes the championship. However in any scenario where that happens, Verstappen will be the champion.

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Saudi Arabian Grand Prix points permutations

The tables below show every possible finishing position combination for the championship contenders and want Verstappen’s points lead over Hamilton would be in those scenarios.

Finishing positions in which Verstappen will win the title in Saudi Arabia are highlighted in blue. Hamilton cannot win the title at the next race.

Verstappen scores fastest lap point

Verstappen finishing position
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11+/DNF
Hamilton finishing position 1 2 -1 -4 -6 -8 -10 -12 -14 -15 -16
2 16 6 3 1 -1 -3 -5 -7 -8 -9
3 19 12 6 4 2 0 -2 -4 -5 -6
4 22 15 12 7 5 3 1 -1 -2 -3
5 24 17 14 11 7 5 3 1 0 -1
6 26 19 16 13 11 7 5 3 2 1
7 28 21 18 15 13 11 7 5 4 3
8 30 23 20 17 15 13 11 7 6 5
9 32 25 22 19 17 15 13 11 8 7
10 33 26 23 20 18 16 14 12 10 8
11+/DNF 34 27 24 21 19 17 15 13 11 10 9

Hamilton scores fastest lap point

Verstappen finishing position
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11/DNF
Hamilton finishing position 1 0 -3 -6 -8 -10 -12 -14 -16 -17 -18
2 14 4 1 -1 -3 -5 -7 -9 -10 -11
3 17 10 4 2 0 -2 -4 -6 -7 -8
4 20 13 10 5 3 1 -1 -3 -4 -5
5 22 15 12 9 5 3 1 -1 -2 -3
6 24 17 14 11 9 5 3 1 0 -1
7 26 19 16 13 11 9 5 3 2 1
8 28 21 18 15 13 11 9 5 4 3
9 30 23 20 17 15 13 11 9 6 5
10 31 24 21 18 16 14 12 10 8 6
11/DNF 33 26 23 20 18 16 14 12 10 9 8

Neither driver scores fastest lap point

Verstappen finishing position
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11+/DNF
Hamilton finishing position 1 1 -2 -5 -7 -9 -11 -13 -15 -16 -17
2 15 5 2 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -9 -10
3 18 11 5 3 1 -1 -3 -5 -6 -7
4 21 14 11 6 4 2 0 -2 -3 -4
5 23 16 13 10 6 4 2 0 -1 -2
6 25 18 15 12 10 6 4 2 1 0
7 27 20 17 14 12 10 6 4 3 2
8 29 22 19 16 14 12 10 6 5 4
9 31 24 21 18 16 14 12 10 7 6
10 32 25 22 19 17 15 13 11 9 7
11+/DNF 33 26 23 20 18 16 14 12 10 9 8

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2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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54 comments on “How Verstappen can clinch the F1 world championship at the next race”

  1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
    22nd November 2021, 8:25

    Love these tables. Gets my hopes up for a thrilling finale. Whoever wins this, both drivers have been in a class of their own this year. Impressive stuff.

    1. @hanswesterbeek They’ve both been brilliant, and one would be champion already if it wasn’t for the other. I have to remind myself that they both drive different cars, with different design philosophies, and yet regardless of any track they drive on, they’re both miles ahead of the opposition.

      I can’t help but feel a little sad when the prospect of who will win, will fall on who touched a rear wing, yellow flag infringements, engine penalties, track limits, slot gaps, fresh ICU’s, Toto & Christian behaving like children every week.

      It all just seems a bit beneath it in a way. I’d just like to watch two of the worlds best drivers and best engineers compete. It’s great entertainment. And whichever loses, can still be incredibly proud of themselves.

      On a side note, could we stop interviewing Toto & Christian? We never learn anything when they speak, other than how much they don’t really like each other and making ‘snidy’ jokey remarks about the other. Interviews with them remind me of Judge Judy defendants arguing over who put gas in tank and whether someone slept with someones sister.

      You just sort of shrug and think, I don’t care, but i’m fairly sure you two shouldn’t be married.

      When I listen to Christian and Toto, I shrug and think I don’t care, and i’m fairly sure there must be someone at Mercedes and Red Bull who do a better job of running an F1 team than you two throwing childish barbs at each other.

      1. On a side note, could we stop interviewing Toto & Christian?

        Yes, please. They are both infuriating at the moment.

      2. @bernasaurus

        When I listen to Christian and Toto, I shrug and think I don’t care, and i’m fairly sure there must be someone at Mercedes and Red Bull who do a better job of running an F1 team than you two throwing childish barbs at each other.

        Maybe, but it’s possible to be the most intelligent or competent and still be very quarrelsome. In fact it happens a lot in the corporative world and other business. Not saying Christian and Toto are necessarily that level of geniousness though, bit for sure they bring some value for the team as a whole, or else they’d already have been kicked out by the shareholders.

  2. Mathematically more exciting than in reality I am afraid. The new stiffer Pirelli and now the engine strategy sealed the deal for 2021 for Mercedes. Well played, I just feel sorry for Max who was the better driver all year. Mercedes fought itself this year, which gave the impression there was a fight with RedBull. Mercedes and Lewis cracked under having pressure for the first time in nearly a decade. Just one competitor car was fast, but enough to throw them off balance. They then became error prone and frustrated. Subsequently they threw everything at it but the kitchen sink. Including having a tyre change in-season (!) to fit their car better and getting their competitor to not fully use their pitstop advantage nor wings, spreading negative and false narratives about their rival, they went all in. Meanwhile Lewis and and Bottas also bumped this competitor off the track during races. In the end they had to bring back their beast mode engine to seal the deal. What a year.

    1. well , Max did bump Lewis off at Monza too

      1. And next time this happens it will be similar to Jerez 97 and hopefully there wont be a kangaroo court this time around.

        1. AND next Time tHIS happeNS It wilL Be SIMiLAr tO JeREZ 97 aND hOpefULlY theRE wONt be A KANgaRoO CouRT THiS tIme aroUNd.

          No, it will be similar to September 14th, 2018.

          1. Or worse Singapore GP 2008 allowing points to stand for a fixed event.

          2. You shouldn’t have replied. You know what I just did.

          3. Friday, FP1 and FP2 for the Singapore GP. What am I missing? What happened in September 14th, 2018?

      2. I agree that Verstappen should have been instructed to give the position at Interlagos but Monza was a racing incident and at least both retired. Silverstone was hamilton’s fault and still got full 25 points compared to Verstappen’s 0. I also wonder if Perez does what Bottas did in Hungary what Ham fans will say about it.

    2. RedBull blamed Pirelli for soft side-walls and when Pirelli bring out the hard side walls the fans complain anyway. What is wrong with fans? Sheesh.

    3. Am Max fan but this is bitter to say our chances for this championship are so small .With the pace Hamilton has been having since Brazil it has been cutting our hopes of seeing Max ability to win race after race with well knowing the remaining tracks are known to be Mercedes dominion. Unless something happens this title is gone and it will be with a very small difference. Well this is racing who knows who will win because where we said Red bull dominate Mercedes won and where we said Mercedes dominate red bull won. Its so exciting .

  3. Yes, clinching the WDC in SA is mathematically possible, but given low likelihood, I feel making permutations for this race is premature.
    I instead follow this pattern: If lewis keeps his winning streak until the end, he’d automatically win the WDC regardless of Max’s finishing positions & the FLAP bonus point (by four pts at the minimum).
    His situation going into the final race would be even better if Bottas could take points away from Max by finishing 2nd.
    The best possible for him would be Max getting a DNF.
    This way, he’d start the Abu Dhabi GP with either an 18 or 17-point lead depending on the bonus point & could thus afford 5th at the lowest in any scenario, 6th depending on FLAP point.
    Considering his engine advantage, I reckon he can win both races on merit in any case, i.e., achieve the absolute minimum he needs for the WDC.

    1. @jerejj I agree. Mercedes is looking properly dominant again, I can’t see anything other than two Hamilton wins with Verstappen second in the next 2 races, that’ll be plenty to give him title number 8.

  4. Of course the other permutation is:
    Saudi Arabia GP cancelled after Justin Bieber decides to cancel his concert.

    We can still use the tables above; Max will win if result is zero or bigger.

  5. Small technical comment @RJoConnell89:
    If either driver finishes 11+/DNF then that driver won’t get the FLAP point.

    1. This is ‘material’ if Max finished 2nd in SA, and Hamilton finishes outside the points but still setting the fastest lap.

      1. Excellent spot, thanks very much for that. The table has been revised accordingly.

  6. I’m hoping for a Hamilton win and fastest lap in Saudi with Verstappen finishing second. I don’t recall two drivers going into the season finale tied on points, particularly under the current points system, but it would be fitting following their season-long dominance.

    At this point, although I’m a Hamilton fan I’d be fine with either driver taking the championship. I think Verstappen has no doubt edged it in terms of individual performances, but has had the worst of the bad luck and most will point to his mid-season DNFs as the deciding factor. It’s always more nuanced than that, with both teams enjoying performance advantages at different stages of the season and Mercedes generally dropping more points than they should have done.

    Aside from the team politics, and constant bickering between fans, it’s been a treat to see a season-long battle between two teams and two incredible drivers.

    1. Nice comment for a Cynic ;-)

    2. How would it be “fitting”? The ONLY reason it is this close is:
      Freak tyre explosion
      Hamilton going unpunished in silverstone
      Bottas going unpunished in hungary
      Without those hamilton would be 75 points back

      1. Fitting in the sense that it’s been a season long two-horse race that has ebbed and flowed for various reasons; performance, luck, politics etc.

        Verstappen indeed would be further ahead in the standings, in fact he’d probably already be WDC, and deservedly so when looked at from an individual driver perspective, but as we all know F1 is about more than just what the drivers can do and the best driver doesn’t always take home the championship.

        I’m looking forward to the finale.

      2. And to clarify, fitting =/= fair.

        If it’s the latter you’re after you’ll be better off watching darts or something.

      3. @Jeff unpunished, LOL. Bottas retired, so penalizing him in that race was impossible.
        Otherwise, yes, the gap would be bigger/he could already be WDC mathematically without the Baku tyre failure, Copse incident, or Bottas’ error, etc. The what-if game works for both contenders + many ways, though.

  7. Is it weird I’m now just expecting Hamilton is going to win the last two races relatively easy?? I know Max is still favourite due to the points advantage but barring some drama I think Hamilton has it.

    1. I’m not sure how the last race will unfold. Everyone seems certain that Jeddah will be Lewis’ for the taking but Abu Dhabi has traditionally been a rear limited track, the opposite of what we’ve just seen this weekend.

      There are other factors though; a lot of the performance swings have been caused by ambient temperatures, with Mercedes generally fairing better when there’s cloud cover or during night races. This may be crucial to what each team can extract.

      There are also the track changes which probably benefit Mercedes more than Red Bull relative to the old layout, so on paper it looks like it’s there for the taking from Lewis’ perspective, but more often than not we’ve been surprised by who is competitive at each track this season.

    2. @davidhunter13 I’ve not done extensive research but checking a couple of betting sites they are now showing Hamilton as the favorite. I think I agree, though there’s not much in it. I expect Mercedes will have the advantage on both tracks but one mistake – a slip up in Q3, bad start, penalty for any reason, touching a wall, or piece of misfortune like a puncture or being taken out by another driver would likely end Lewis’ chances.

    3. It certainly looks like a Hamilton victory in the end. Those stiffer Pirelli’s and the engine strategy chosen made the Mercedes the car to beat.

    4. I’m already “sure” that Lewis will win in Jeddah, and get the fastest lap, but Max will be second, even if the Merc is better then the Redbull, the combo of Redbull/Max is better then the combo of Merc/Bottas.
      I think the “unlikely” scenario that they go to Abu Dhabi equal on points feels very possible to me.
      The only question I have is “can Redbull/Max beat Merc/Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, and I really don’t know, sadly I’m pretty sure we will know by the time the lights go out, having seen quali and practice, but for now it’s quite exciting.

  8. Given how processional the top end has been, I’m keeping it simple: if verstapen wins in SA, increases his lead, or holds as is; I’ll have him as the favorite to win the title. If Hamilton finishes ahead of verstappen (and reduces the his points lead by any margin) I’ll have him as the favorite.

  9. Realistically Hamilton has to win both races. That simple.

    1. Sorry, reply to Ipsom.

    2. He has to win out. Which is till tbh unlikely. He hasn’t won 4 in a row or come close this year. The swings of performance and fortune between the teams mean that really only verstappen has enjoyed sustained advantage in the car for any period.

      1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
        22nd November 2021, 13:27

        His recent form suggests to me that Hamilton can win both races and take the title in style. (So not via wing-touching, marshall-critique, PU penalties and all the other unholy stuff @bernasaurus listed above …)

      2. I guess that’s right. And I’m making the a non “Bayesian” fallacy if you will by factoring Brazil and Qatar into the prediction for the next two.

        It’s kind of like saying can Seth Curry make two contested three pointers to win a game from behind? He’s a great shot, and shooting 80 percent in the current quarter, but only 50 percent in the entire game. I guess I could say only It’s absolutely not guaranteed he will make two in a row under pressure and fierce defense, but he seems fully capable of it.

        But this is why we play the game not just ask the bookies. We see how humans rise up to pressure or fall short and how random fortune plays in.

    3. @david-br yes absolutely, he has to win both (assuming that verstappen comes in second both times). I’m just putting the emphasis on Saudi cause that’s the next race and where it MIGHT be more challenging for him to win

      1. I think Abu Dhabi should be the more challenging. Hamilton excels at new tracks, Saudi Arabia looks fast and favourable to Mercedes, plus they’ve said they’ll use the SP engine – though that sounds like overkill to me if the first two advantages apply. I think what would do Hamilton the biggest favour is Bottas grabbing second in SA. It would still go down to the last race, presuming Max in third, but would tip the balance Hamilton’s way. But the fact is Perez has looked better in recent races than Bottas.

  10. Just confirms we need to be rid of this dumb fastest lap point. It’s just a measure of who has a teammate slow enough that giving up a top finishing spot to take the point away from his teammates rival makes sense. Or it means that if you are so far behind it’s hopeless to catch up you can take the flap on the last lap where the car ahead won’t have that option. It’s not a competitive element of the race.

    1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
      22nd November 2021, 13:28

      To be honest, the fasted lap point is playing out better than I expected when it was introduced. For example, I kinda like that team game where Bottas/Perez can steal a point off their teammate’s competitor.

  11. I think Max has deflected the building pressure too long over the season and it will come to a head in Jeddah. I am expecting him to crack there. Every first time champion has cracked in their winning season at some point.

    1. Every first time champion has cracked in their winning season at some point.

      But if he cracks will it still be his ‘winning season’ as a ‘first time champion’ ;)

    2. @david-beau

      I think Max has deflected the building pressure too long over the season and it will come to a head in Jeddah. I am expecting him to crack there. Every first time champion has cracked in their winning season at some point.

      Which of the two has put the car into the wall or the pit lane entrance this season? It tells a lot about who has suffered more with the pressure.

  12. Unless of course hamilton or bottas get away with deliberately taking him out again

  13. If the Rocket engine arrives, then Merc can crank on a bunch of dirty downforce and walk both races.

  14. I think it’s great that there are scenarios which lead to a 0 points difference going into the final race. Not only that one of the scenarios is amongst the most likely (Hamilton wins with FLAP and Verstappen second) in which case it comes down to a real one-race championship decider with everything that has gone before irrelevant (other than to the die-hard fans of whoever doesn’t win the championship who will continue blaming the title loss on some specific situation that they deem unfair earlier in the season).

  15. That fastest lap point that Verstappen nicked off Hamilton in Qatar could be crucial — with an 8 point lead, Verstappen only needs to finish second in the next race to retain the championship lead (on countback if Hamilton takes fastest lap). That means a double DNF in Abu Dhabi would hand him the title. Imagine the uproar if, in today’s more tightly-stewarded age, we saw a Prost/Senna Suzuka-type climax…

    Then there’s the off chance that Jeddah doesn’t go forward and Abu Dhabi is the next race…

  16. Saudi arabia seems like fast flowing corners throughout. If silverstone and spa (FP and quali at least) are any indication, it might spring a surprise and RB are good there.

    Or it becomes interlagos 2 and HAM wins by 30 sec lol

    1. I think the beast mode engine can cover that easily

  17. @keithcollantine can we get the Points Calculator updated please?

  18. Well, mathematically spoken, Max has the benefit for now with 8 points ahead of Lewis. Another fact is Lewis has not won 3 or 4 GP’s in a row this year. So, mathematically I give the advantage to Max.

  19. In an implausible yet possible scenario, what happens if we have a Lewis-Max 1-2 in the remaining races with Lewis also getting fastest lap points, but both the races are truncated and they get half points giving them 26 and 18 points respectively, effectively tying both points tally and number of wins.

  20. I’m for Max!

Comments are closed.