It’s only the midway point of the 2023 Formula One season, but the chances of anyone other than Max Verstappen being crowned champion look incredibly slim.
With a 110-point lead over his teammate Sergio Perez in second place and a 142-point lead over his nearest non-Red Bull competitor, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, Verstappen is in a commanding position.
The Red Bull driver has won nine of the season’s first 11 races — Perez is the only other driver to win this year with victories in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan — and his dominance shows no sign of letting up following a seventh consecutive victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where he held a 34-second margin over Lando Norris in second place.
Although he is still several races short of making it mathematically impossible for one of his rivals to win the title, barring a remarkable turn of events, it will be a matter of when, not if, Verstappen becomes a three-time champion.
To put the situation in perspective, even if he finishes second behind Perez at all the remaining races and sprint races and the Mexican secures every bonus point for fastest lap, Verstappen would still win the title by 27 points (one more than the total on offer for a grand prix victory and fastest lap).
The question of when he will wrap up the title can also be worked out based on the remaining points available, with a potential record on the line.
Michael Schumacher currently holds the record for a championship victory with the most rounds remaining (albeit under a different points system) when he secured his fifth title in 2002 with six races left to run.
It’s possible, although unlikely, that Verstappen will win this year’s title in Singapore with seven rounds remaining.
If Verstappen wins every grand prix and sprint race, and Perez finishes second in all of those, Verstappen will clinch the championship at the Qatar Grand Prix with five races remaining.
As long as Verstappen holds the following leads after each of these races, he will be champion, regardless of what happens between now and then:
Singapore – 207 points
Japan – 181 points
Qatar – 147 points
Austin – 113 points
Mexico – 87 points
Brazil – 53 points
Las Vegas – 27 points
However, if he continues at the rate of supremacy he has held over the last seven races — all of which he has won while Perez has looked increasingly under pressure and made numerous mistakes — he will win the title in Japan with six races remaining.