With 364 World Drivers’ Championship points, Max Verstappen is 145 points clear of his teammate, Sergio Perez, in the standings. Nevertheless, the earliest Verstappen can win the title is at the Japanese Grand Prix on September 24th.
If he does so, it would mean Verstappen breaks Michael Schumacher’s record, by claiming the title with seven Grand Prix remaining. In 2002, the German claimed the title with six races remaining. It was, however, a shorter season which technically made his task easier.
2023 has been a disastrous year for Formula 1 promoters. It has been monotonous, underlined by Verstappen’s record-breaking run of ten consecutive race victories. Most have not been the result of a hard-earned fight and, as a spectacle, only the Miami Grand Prix – where the Dutch ace started ninth – has produced much excitement.
Singapore is next
Verstappen is 3/10 with Betfred to win this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix. It is a race that has been off the calendar since 2019 – because of Covid – and has featured a safety car every year since its 2008 inception.
Could an ill-timed safety car finally end this winning sequence? Verstappen has never qualified on pole, set a fastest lap or won a race in Singapore. He has finished on the podium in two of his five starts here.
The Crashgate Scandal
Singapore’s F1 debut in 2008 was a memorable race for two reasons. It was the first race to be staged under floodlights and it was the scene of ‘Crashgate’ – a controversial moment in sport when Nelson Piquet Jr was ordered by his Renault team to crash his car in order to help team-mate Fernando Alonso, an early pit-stopper, to win the race.
Now, almost 15 years later, the events of that night are back in the headlines with news that that season’s World Drivers’ Championship (WDC) runner-up, Felipe Massa is pursuing a legal challenge to have the results of the race nullified. It would, in turn, give him the 2008 WDC trophy and take one of Lewis Hamilton’s titles away.
With legal wheels in motion, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) and Formula 1 are tight-lipped. But Massa’s law firm is quoted as saying: “The objective is to bring the trophy home, it’s not financial. To get there, several measures will be taken with different aims, some to obtain information and others to obtain statements. We want everything that happened in 2008/2009 to come to light.”
Following his recent win at Monza, Verstappen faced criticism from Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who suggested that his latest Formula 1 record was irrelevant. Wolff said “I don’t know if he cares about the records. It is not something that would be important for me, those numbers, it is for Wikipedia and nobody reads that anyway.”
Shortly after his recent victory on home turf, the Dutchman took a swipe back at both Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton by admitting that he wasn’t entirely sure about the exact number of trophies Hamilton had collected.
Verstappen remarked, “With Lewis, I don’t know for sure, but I mean, for someone who has won six world championships, you must know,” to which the reporter corrected him by stating that Hamilton actually has seven titles to his name.
The 25-year-old then made a cheeky retort, saying, “Are you sure it’s seven, not six?” This seemed to be a jibe aimed towards Felipe Massa’s controversial claim to the 2008 world championship after narrowly losing out to Hamilton.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.