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Max Verstappen set to claim second Japanese Grand Prix championship with Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez needing unthinkable comeback that would top James Hunt’s iconic feat


Max Verstappen missed the chance to win his second F1 Drivers’ Championship after finishing eighth in the Singapore Grand Prix.

Although the Red Bull driver has another opportunity to clinch back-to-back titles this weekend as the grid heads to Japan.

Max Verstappen can win the F1 title with four races to go on Sunday

The Dutchman’s lead is so large that only Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez can theoretically beat him with five races remaining in the season.

Verstappen currently leads the drivers’ standings with 341 points – 104 clear of second-placed Leclerc and two more ahead of Perez.

No driver has ever taken such a lead at this stage of the season, with the likelihood of Verstappen winning everything in Japan.

But what are the different ways it can do this?

And can one of the greatest title comebacks in Formula 1 history bring a glimmer of hope to its rivals? talkSPORT.com takes a look…


Leclerc is one of only two drivers who can theoretically still beat Verstappen for the title

Getty

Leclerc is one of only two drivers who can theoretically still beat Verstappen for the title

F1 title swaps: If Verstappen finishes first

Verstappen needs to be 112 points ahead of his closest competitor in the standings after the Suzuka race to clinch the championship.

This would make him the third driver after Michael Schumacher (2001/2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2011) to win the title with four races of the season still running.

If Verstappen takes the checkered flag first next weekend, he will be crowned champions again if Leclerc finishes below second place.

Still, if the 25-year-old also set the fastest lap alongside his win, he would retain his title regardless of the Ferrari star’s result.

Including Japan, there is a maximum of 138 points up for grabs taking into account the 26 awarded for race wins with the fastest lap bonus – plus the additional eight for winning the sprint race next month at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Leclerc is also trailing in 11-3 race wins over Verstappen, meaning if he finished the season level on points he would not win the title.

The Monegasque and Perez can each continue the championship fight for at least one more week in the United States if they finish ahead of Verstappen.

Verstappen finishing outside the top six would also be not give him the magical 112-point lead over Leclerc he needs to win in Japan.

Biggest title comebacks in F1 history

John Surtees 1964: 20 points behind and five races to go (point system: 9-6-4-3-2-1)

James Hunt 1976: 17 points behind and three races to go (point system: 9-6-4-3-2-1)

Nelson Piquet 1983: 14 points behind and three races to go (point system: 9-6-4-3-2-1)

Alain Prost 1986: 11 points behind with two races to go (point system: 9-6-4-3-2-1)

Kimi Raikkonen 2007: 17 points behind and two races to go (point system: 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1)

Sebastian Vettel 2010: 31 points behind and six races to go (point system: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1)

F1 title swaps: If Verstappen finishes second to sixth

Without claiming race victory at Suzuka, Verstappen needs a minimum of eight points more than Leclerc and only six more than Perez.

  • Verstappen finishes second with fastest lap: He will be champion if Leclerc finishes fifth or lower – Perez finishes fourth or lower
  • Verstappen finishes second without fastest lap: He will be champion if Leclerc finishes below fifth or finishes fifth without a bonus point – Perez finishes below fourth or finishes fourth without a bonus point
  • Verstappen finishes third with fastest lap: Leclerc must finish fifth or higher to deny him – Perez fourth
  • Verstappen finishes third without fastest lap: Leclerc must finish sixth or higher to deny him – Perez fifth
  • Verstappen finishes fourth: Leclerc must finish at least seventh – Perez finishes sixth or seventh with a bonus point
  • Verstappen finishes fifth: Leclerc should finish at least eighth – Perez seventh
  • Verstappen finishes sixth: Leclerc should finish outside the points – Perez can extend the title race by finishing eighth or ninth with a bonus point



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