Max Verstappen is set to win the championship in Qatar, but in sprinting – does it really matter? Since then, the Monaco Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen won and Sergio Perez twice from 16th place, has been clear for the drivers’ title this season. Hopes of Perez’s challenge faded after a bright start to the season when he won two of the first four races, but his form dipped when he came to the principality at the beginning of the summer.
Between May 1 (the day after the Azerbaijan GP) and September 16 (the day before the Singapore GP), Verstappen was unbeaten at F1 GPs, winning all 10 and taking both sprint wins in Austria and Belgium. Of the 276 points on offer during the victory, Verstappen took 271 of them, leaving only the fastest lap in Monaco, Canada, Belgium, Holland and Italy. Rarely has a Grand Prix been so dominant. As he continued to sweep the points and pass Perez, attention turned to when Verstappen would join Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna as three-time world champions.
It is possible that he will leave Qatar as a member of the treble club, but not in the competition itself. He currently leads Perez by 177 points and Lusail by 180 points. Eight from a sprint win, Verstappen only needs to finish sixth in the 19-lap race on Saturday night. If not, it will probably be decided in the GP itself – but Verstappen could become the first driver to win the world title at a race other than the main GP – but even Benefits of Verstappen’s sprint win Does it really matter when Verstappen wins the championship? It was clear from the start of the summer that he would, so it was only a matter of time as each Grand Prix he won creaked in numbers as his points tally increased and the gap Perez had to play with decreased. Secondly, the way the sprints were organized in the 2023 season meant the possibility that Formula 1 wanted to see.
Three events were held in both 2021 and 2022, doubling the number in ’23 to six, with half of that number coming in the last six races of the season. Qatar, the United States and Brazil are the three events that feature sprints over four races, with only Mexico – in a triple-header between Austin and Interlagos – running on a regular schedule. Interlagos has proven to be an excellent sprint host after both the 2021 and 2022 events (it’s the only track to host a sprint every year), while Austin’s need for additional competition is self-evident. This was a great opportunity as the sprints were spread throughout the season and half of them offered eight points to the winner.
Since the sprint is all about getting more eyes to watch F1, it’s only a matter of time before Verstappen wins the championship in the sprint. The format was originally used to set up the main series for the main series, but proved wildly unpopular when a change was made for 2023, making Sprint Saturday a separate Grand Prix qualifier on Friday, as was done, it was always like that, on Sundays. The importance and sanctity of the Grand Prix will not be disturbed in any way.
What better way to detonate dynamite with this argument than to decide the world championship for sprint drivers? It’s all well and good as F1 adds more and more Grand Prix races and more and more sprint races to the calendar, but other die-hard fans who never miss a session or media coverage of the action really have more than half their time, time watch races on weekends all year? Of course, there are outstanding packages in case you miss out on qualifying or a Grand Prix, but nothing beats that special moment when a driver is crowned World Champion in the only truly global sport that awards the title. Despite their best protestations, the NBA, NFL and MLB’s proclamations of the winning teams as world champions are disgusting.
Furthermore, why is part of a season in Qatar or Brazil or Austria worth more than Monaco, Japan or Singapore? If each Grand Prix is to be equal, then reflect that in the points awarded, rather than giving that race or event extra points for the WC.