Max Verstappen wins third Formula One world title in Qatar GP sprint

Red Bull driver cruises to another championship win after challenger Sergio Perez crashes out

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Max Verstappen secured the Formula One title for the third straight year on Saturday.

Verstappen finished second in the sprint race at the Qatar Grad Prix while his teammate Sergio Perez, the only driver who could catch him in the standings, crashed out after being struck by Esteban Ocon’s Alpine.

Rookie Oscar Piastri won the sprint for McLaren.

The title race was all but over long before Verstappen made sure of it Saturday. His run of 10 straight wins, an all-time F1 record, from May to September left him far ahead in the standings.

Even so, Perez needed to finish in the top three places to keep the title officially open for another day, with the main race on Sunday, but started eighth and dropped to 11th before colliding with Alpine's Ocon on lap 11.

The Red Bull was then stuck in the gravel, with Perez stepping out.

That meant Verstappen, who was running in third place at the time, was champion for the third year in a row no matter where he finished.

The 26-year-old Dutch driver will start on pole position for Sunday's race, chasing his 14th win in 17 grands prix.

Verstappen's championship parade will start at Sunday's 57-lap Grand Prix in Qatar.

"Max, you are a three-time world champion," roared Red Bull's team principal Christian Horner over the radio. "That is unbelievable. It has been an incredible year for you."

Verstappen replied: "Unbelievable, guys. I don't know what to say. Thank you for giving me such a good car. It has been a pleasure to be able to achieve something like this. I cannot thank you enough."

After lapping up the adulation of his team, Verstappen said: "It is a fantastic feeling, and it has been an incredible year. I am super-proud of the team. It has been so enjoyable to be a part of that group of people. To be a three-time world champion is incredible.

"We will keep on pushing and try to do the best we can. Today was an exciting race, but it was good and fun out there and I am incredibly happy at the moment."

Asked if he feels more world championships are possible, the Dutch driver added: "We will see what happens. I am enjoying the moment and hopefully we will keep this momentum going for a while."

The 26-year-old Dutch driver also became the second youngest triple world champion after now-retired German Sebastian Vettel, who secured the third of his four crowns with Red Bull in 2012 at the age of 25.

Piastri's Saturday success ended Red Bull's domination of the sprints this season.

The Australian rookie's team mate Lando Norris finished third with Mercedes' George Russell fourth and team mate Lewis Hamilton fifth after starting 12th and cashing in on the collisions ahead of him.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were sixth and seventh with Williams' Alex Albon taking the final point of the evening.

Updated: October 07, 2023, 6:49 PM