Verstappen arrives in Qatar to win the crown for the third year in a row, probably on Saturday


Lusail (Qatar), Oct 5 (EFE).- The Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull), very prominent leader of the Formula One World Championship, arrives this weekend in Qatar with the intention of mathematically resolving the achievement of his third title Following. Something that could happen this Saturday, since it would be enough to add three points – that is, finish sixth – in the sprint test.

In the fourth of the six weekends with sprint format, Verstappen, who turned 26 last Saturday and who has just achieved two weekends ago, in Suzuka – where he won the Japanese Grand Prix – his thirteenth victory of the season, could celebrate his third crown without waiting for Sunday. He is 177 points ahead of the second overall, his teammate, the Mexican Sergio Pérez (400 compared to 223); and he could be champion on Saturday, even without scoring in the reduced race. That, as long as ‘Checo’ didn’t finish in the top three.

‘Mad Max’ won two of the three sprints of the course, in Austria and Belgium. And he was third in the first of them, that of Baku. Where ‘Checo’ won a day before winning in Azerbaijan and signing his second victory of the season – his sixth in the premier category. So, taking into account, furthermore, that Red Bull reconfirmed its status as the great dominator by mathematically resolving the revalidation of the Constructors’ World Championship in Suzuka, everything indicates that the Dutch super-predator will celebrate its third title in a row this Saturday, for the night.

If this were not the case, it would be enough for him to be eighth on Sunday even if his colleague from Guadalajara wins the Sunday race by adding the additional point for the fastest lap. Even ninth, if he makes the fastest turn. In short: only a true misfortune will prevent the fans of the Netherlands from celebrating their great sporting idol again this weekend.

From there, Verstappen, triumphant 48 times in F1, would dedicate himself to trying to improve his own record of victories in a single campaign, which he set at fifteen last year.

If, apart from winning for the third time in a row, he rounds off the weekend with a new victory next Sunday, he will be just two away from the fourth historical record of victories, held by the French quadruple world champion Alain Prost, who made sounding the Marseillaise 51 times in F1. The insatiable Verstappen could also reach the third record of all time this year, that of the German Sebastian Vettel, another quadruple world champion, who led Red Bull’s previous glorious journey – between 2010 and 2013 – and who added 53 successes.

Is there (automobile) life after Verstappen? The answer is affirmative.

The seven-time English world champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and the Spanish Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) – aged 38 and 42, the oldest on the grid – will resume their fight for third place in the championship. In Lusail. A 5,419 meter circuit, with 16 curves – six to the left -, most of them at high and medium speed; and with a main straight of more than a kilometer in length.

This will be the second edition of the Qatar Grand Prix, after 2021. On that occasion, Sir Lewis won, ahead of ‘Mad Max’ and the Asturian double world champion; that that day he achieved the last podium prior to the seven with which he has become the sensation of this season and with which he raised his ratio of ‘drawers’ to 105.

Hamilton has 190 points, 16 more than the Asturian genius and forty ahead of the other Spaniard, Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), who in the middle of last month, in Singapore, signed the only victory of the season that Red Bull did not score. . The second in his personal locker, after the one he celebrated last year in Silverstone (Great Britain).

“It was very similar. I think Singapore was more fun, it was more pure joy; and Silverstone was more emotional, due to the fact that it was your first victory,” he explained in an interview with Efe that took place in Madrid earlier this week. the talented driver from Madrid, 29 years old; which has 17 podiums in F1.

‘Checo’, 33, will have to pay attention, in turn, to Hamilton, if he wants to become runner-up in the world. The Englishman, who is 33 points behind the Mexican, will also fight for second place in the Constructors’ World Championship, which Mercedes occupies with 305 units, twenty more than Ferrari. Aston Martin is fourth, with 221; while the emerging McLaren occupies fifth place, with 172.

On a repaved track 39 meters longer than the one run two years ago, where it will be very hot – this Thursday the maximum will be 43 degrees Celsius – and where its management will be key, it will be run with tires from the hardest range of compounds: C1 (hard, recognizable by the white stripe), C2 (medium, yellow stripe) and C3 (soft, red). The same as in Suzuka,

This Friday there will be free practice and, in the night session, qualifying for Sunday’s race. Planned for 57 laps, to complete a route of 308.6 kilometers

Saturday will, once again, have an independent character; and it will be the day in which, very predictably, Verstappen will celebrate his third title. In the afternoon the ‘sprint-shootout’, the reduced qualification for the short race, will be held. That it will be run with artificial light, about a third of the route of the Sunday test; and that awards eight points to the winner, seven to the second, six to the third; and so on, until the eighth, which will add up to one.

And although both the sprint and the long run are at night, it will still be very hot (maybe up to 34 degrees), something that can easily be verified if someone had the (maybe not very lucid) idea, for example, of going out for a jog. at night along the Corniche Bay, in Doha. Where the luxurious ocean liners that served as hotels during the last World Cup no longer anchor; but from where you can still see 974, the sustainable stadium designed by the Spanish-American architect Mark Fenwick, made up of that number of containers (in homage to the Qatar telephone prefix). Removable. And that it could be moved and relocated to another destination.

The Dutch cannibal doesn’t care what the thermometer reads. It is enough for him to be sixth to celebrate his third title in a row this Saturday. And he’s not going to wait until Sunday. ‘Mad Max’ already smells blood.

Adrian R. Huber

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