Max Verstappen is F1 world champion for the third time

Verstappen is already champion during the sprint race

Max Verstappen will also take pole position for the sprint race, many thought - including ourselves. However, the Dutch driver did not succeed. During the sprint race in Qatar, Verstappen starts third behind the McLarens. Because Pérez starts ninth, Max Verstappen appears to be world champion, but he is dependent on his performance compared to that of his teammate.

Start of the sprint race in Qatar

No, Verstappen is not just going to become champion. The Red Bull's engine revs too low at the start and therefore drops back into the field. Russell and both Ferraris pass the Dutch driver. In Turn 1, Verstappen is in a crowd and he also has to tolerate Norris in front of him, but two corners later Verstappen throws his car on the inside and passes the McLaren.

LIGHTS OUT FOR THE SPRINT!⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️⚫️Piastri keeps the lead, Norris plummets to P6!Russell, Sainz, Leclerc and Verstappen follow the leader #QatarGP #F1Sprint Ql1FpolKv

— Formula 1 (@F1) October 7, 2023 Meanwhile, Lawson makes a mistake that causes him to spin off the track. A safety car is the logical follow-up. At the end of round 2 we start racing again. Piastri is well ahead, while his teammate is having a hard time with Alonso. The Aston Martin driver dives on the inside of Norris twice, but the talented Brit holds his ground and defends his position wonderfully. This allows Ocon to even pass Alonso.

New leader of the competition

At the front, Russel pushes Piastri into a mistake, passing the lead of the race to Mercedes. Furthermore, 'Sargeant makes a mistake and is out of the race' can be crossed off the F1 bingo card. Like Lawson, Sargeant spins all by himself. His failure also resulted in a safety car.

LAP 3/19Russell POUNCES on Piastri to take the lead#QatarGP #F1Sprint

— Formula 1 (@F1) October 7, 2023 Russell can set the pace at the front. When he is allowed to direct the restart, he goes full throttle extremely early. Piastri had not counted on that, so Russell immediately gained a few seconds of distance. Piastri is battling with Sainz for second place towards the first corner. The McLaren driver wins the battle and immediately opens a gap of one second by setting the fastest race lap.

Verstappen is unleashed and a lap later passes the other Ferrari. In addition, McLaren has reported that the drivers on the soft tires are now starting to have a hard time. For the record: leader Russell is on softs, Piastri and Verstappen on mediums. The McLaren engineers have been paying close attention. On lap 11 of 19, Piastri easily passes Russell for P1.

Max Verstappen world champion due to Pérez's failure

And then the shot goes to a crashing Red Bull. We are shocked for a moment, but then we see the yellow T-cam on the car. Sergio Pérez, Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Ocon head towards Turn 2. The Haas is in the middle and is sandwiched by the other two cars. Hülkenberg can continue, but Ocon and Pérez drop out. This means that Verstappen no longer even has to finish: the Dutchman is already world champion during the sprint race. Again, an anti-cli-max.

SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED AGAIN! (LAP 11/19)A three-car sandwich between Ocon, Hulkenberg and Perez takes them all out of the race #QatarGP #F1Sprint

— Formula 1 (@F1) October 7, 2023 ## Third restart of the race

Of course there will be a safety car after the crash of Pérez and Ocon. When the green flag is waved again, there are still four laps to complete. In the sixteenth of nineteen laps, Verstappen overtakes Russell. The gap to Piastri at the front is 2.6 seconds. Can Verstappen still close this gap and usher in his third championship in a masterly manner?

Two more laps to go. Verstappen is the fastest man on the track, but is only a few tenths faster than Piastri. The difference is exactly two seconds. A true spectacle is happening behind Verstappen, but all eyes are on the two men in front. Verstappen must give in. The gap remains for about two seconds.

Max Verstappen is world champion again

Piastri shows what racing stock he is made of. Also important for tomorrow: McLaren beats Red Bull on pure speed. But that's for tomorrow. Now you can party at the energy drink manufacturer. Max Verstappen is world champion for the third time in his career. We'll look back later on how great this sprint race was, but first we'll uncork the champagne. Cheers!

The third title puts Verstappen on par in terms of number of titles with Brabham, Stewart, Lauda, Piquet and Senna. In addition, only Schumacher, Fangio, Vettel and Hamilton have ever won three titles in a row. Also nice for holidays: the Netherlands now has as many driver titles as Italy. Nino Farina and Alberto Ascari won for the Italians.


— Formula 1 (@F1) October 7, 2023 ## Result of the sprint race in Qatar

Piastri Verstappen Norris Russell Hamilton Sainz Leclerc Albon Alonso Gasly Bottas Tsunoda Stroll Magnussen Zhou Hülkenberg Ocon Pérez Sargeant Lawson ## What time does F1 start in Qatar?

Sunday, October 8, 7:30 PM