Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2022

How Verstappen can win the championship in the Japanese Grand Prix

2022 Singapore Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen has another chance to clinch the 2022 world championship in this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver’s winning streak ended in Singapore where he finished seventh. His closest championship rivals Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez filled the top two positions, trimming Verstappen’s points lead.

But with 104 points in hand over Leclerc and another two over Perez, Verstappen’s chances of taking the title in Japan are much stronger. If he leaves Suzuka with a 112-point lead he’ll get the job done.

Here’s how he can do it.

Full points race

The simple situation for Verstappen this weekend is that if the race goes the distance and he wins and sets the fastest lap, he will be the champion regardless of where anyone else finishes. But if he doesn’t do both those things, the title fight could remain open.

For example if Verstappen wins but doesn’t take the fastest lap, Leclerc can keep the championship alive by finishing second, even if the Ferrari driver doesn’t get the fastest lap bonus.

Start, Suzuka, 2019
Verstappen can take the title at Suzuka
Verstappen could claim the championship by finishing as low as sixth. Here is where he needs his rivals to finish in order to win the championship in each of those scenarios:

Verstappen wins and takes fastest lap – Rivals’ finishing positions do not matter
Verstappen wins without fastest lap – Leclerc third or lower, Perez second or lower

Verstappen second with fastest lap – Leclerc fifth or lower, Perez fourth or lower
Verstappen second without fastest lap – Leclerc fifth or lower without fastest lap or sixth or lower with fastest lap, Perez fourth or lower with fastest lap or fifth or lower with fastest lap

Verstappen third with fastest lap – Leclerc sixth or lower, Perez fifth or lower
Verstappen third without fastest lap – Leclerc seventh or lower, Perez sixth or lower

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Verstappen fourth with fastest lap – Leclerc eighth or lower, Perez seventh or lower
Verstappen fourth without fastest lap – Leclerc eighth or lower without fastest lap or ninth or lower with fastest lap, Perez seventh or lower without fastest lap or eighth or lower with fastest lap

Verstappen fifth with fastest lap – Leclerc ninth or lower, Perez eighth or lower
Verstappen fifth without fastest lap – Leclerc ninth or lower without fastest lap or tenth or lower with fastest lap, Perez eighth or lower without fastest lap or ninth or lower with fastest lap

Verstappen sixth with fastest lap – Leclerc tenth or lower, Perez ninth or lower
Verstappen sixth without fastest lap – Leclerc 11th or lower, Perez ninth or lower without fastest lap or 10th or lower with fastest lap

Non-full points race

If the race does not run to the complete distance and less than full points are awarded, Verstappen’s chances of winning the championship diminish.

If three-quarter-points are awarded, Verstappen needs to finish in the top five in order to be able to win the championship. In this scenario if he wins the race and sets fastest lap, the only way Leclerc can keep the title alive is by finishing second.

If half-points are awarded, Verstappen can only win the championship by finishing on the podium. With a win, he would need Leclerc to finish off the podium in order to take the title.

If quarter-points or no points are awarded in Japan, Verstappen will not win the championship at Suzuka.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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16 comments on “How Verstappen can win the championship in the Japanese Grand Prix”

  1. If he really wanted to win at Suzuka, his rashness in passing Norris was really costly. Finish third or fourth yesterday and he’s got the title in Suzuka pretty much however he wants it. Now… probably COTA.

    1. @hahostolze Yes, the outcome would be more in his control had he been more patient, but still largely in his hands.
      Supposing he wins on pace if everything goes well, as usual, LEC not finishing 2nd is entirely realistic. We’ll see.

      1. @jerejj I am already enjoying the scenario whereby anyone who doesn’t like Verstappen, Red Bull or Horner (which can be a LOT of people) will go for a fastest lap on the final lap of Suzuka out of pure spite.

        Maybe Alonso or someone McLaren to mess with Honda?

        1. Ahah, that would be interesting indeed, not cause I don’t like verstappen or red bull but I just see a battle for fastest lap to not let a driver win the title at a specific venue, particularly like you said to mess with honda, being fun.

        2. Ohh, and what about hamilton? I think a good candidate too!

        3. That scenario only exists in your childish head. Other teams are still fighting for their positions in the championship, and still need points, including fastest lap. Nobody will be wasting strategy and resources out of spite for another. Everybody knows that Redbull has the titles in the pocket. That’s unavoidable at this point.

  2. I mean, it’s a lot of text to say he needs to score 8 more points than Charles and 6 more points than Perez and he’s done for the year.

    1. Indeed a lot of text, and not all correct I guess:

      Verstappen sixth without fastest lap – Leclerc 11th or lower w̶i̶t̶h̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶f̶a̶s̶t̶e̶s̶t̶ ̶l̶a̶p̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶1̶0̶t̶h̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶l̶o̶w̶e̶r̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶f̶a̶s̶t̶e̶s̶t̶ ̶l̶a̶p̶, Perez ninth or lower without fastest lap or 10th or lower with fastest lap

    2. + 1. Thanks for the summary. If Max wins he has it in the bag really. Charles needs to be first or second and hope things go his way. Only postponing the inevitable though.

  3. Jonathan Parkin
    3rd October 2022, 15:22

    Interestingly if we go by the 10-6-4-3-2-1 system (and yes I know it’s academic) Verstappen would have won the title in Singapore.

    1. Jonathon, what about the 9-6-4-3-2-1 system? Yes, I really am that old!

      1. Jonathan Parkin
        4th October 2022, 15:48

        Assuming all scores count, there are 45 points maximum to collect. Perez is 43 points behind, Leclerc 41 so the championship could be won in Japan by Verstappen

        However in those days the best 11 scores counted. Since Verstappen has 11 wins and no other driver can equal this achievement he will have already won before Singapore

        1. Ah yes. BUT, that was when the season was much shorter. What proportion of the season was that “11 best”? and what does it do if you normalise that to the current season length?

          p.s. No I’m not actually asking you to do this calculation :) just spinning the different comparisons round in my head.

  4. I’ve also done calculations, albeit mainly for scenarios where Max would win.
    Long story short, he needs to outscore CL by at least eight points & SP by six to guarantee himself finishing the season in P1 since he’d win in any theoretical tied-points outcome on the countback of having more wins.
    An even shorter story, considering the above notes, a race win regardless of bonus point distribution automatically guarantees the championship if CL doesn’t finish 2nd.

    1. So if Perez crash into Charles it’s over and done…. not that it will happen ofcourse..

      But if so then i see Perez chances to win the Mexican GP as Max will take a New ICE to start in the back increased.
      Max will win then the rest as he will put his engine in a higher engine mod.

  5. If you go through the scenario’s and realise that only Ferrari and RB won races this year it’s probably not more than a 50/50 chance it will happen this weekend. If RB is dominant a 1-2 would be possible but a race win and fastest lap will be difficult as Ferrari can sacrifice Sainz for the FL when needed (if they want to postpone the inevitable).

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