FIA president reveals if they’ll change rule affecting Max Verstappen championship

Max Verstappen is now a three-time Formula 1 world championship, following his latest triumph last weekend in the Middle East.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has stressed that the governing body don’t plan on changing a key rule anytime soon, impacting three-time World Champion Max Verstappen.

Verstappen sealed his third consecutive Drivers’ Championship last weekend at the Qatar Grand Prix, after finishing second in the sprint race at the Lusail International Circuit.

He claimed the title even before the sprint concluded, as Sergio Perez crashing out meant the Dutchman couldn’t be caught no matter where he finished.

Winning the championship during a sprint race was an odd circumstance, given that the celebrations were kept on the low as there was still Sunday’s race to get through.

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The Dutchman will have to wait until December to get his hands on the Drivers’ Championship trophy, with the FIA prize-giving gala taking place in Azerbaijan at the end of the year.

With five races still remaining, some have questioned why Verstappen couldn’t be given the trophy in Qatar, given that several other sports award the champions their trophy moments after they achieved the accolade.

The rules would need to be changed for this to happen, although Ben Sulayem has stressed that the FIA awards evening is the “night of champions” and shouldn’t be changed.

“It’s the night of the champions,” Ben Sulayem told reporters, referring to the annual FIA gala, as reported by The Mirror.

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“When I first won my [Middle East Rally] championship, you have no idea before about the sleepless night before going to France, to be in Paris, to go to the Concorde and to be given a trophy.

“Even now I feel my hairs [on my arm] standing up, because I remember that I was so young, I was 25 years old. To go there is what you dream of, and that’s how the other youngsters also look at it.

“It is the night of the champions where the young people can see the winner, the champion of F1. And that’s the idol for them. Do you want me to make sure the dream doesn’t come true? No.”

Ben Sulayem does understand where people are coming from given that Verstappen will have to wait two months to receive the trophy; however, he insists that collecting the trophy at the gala is a “dream”.

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“If you are a driver, you want to be like someone,” he added.

“So, to them, to come to that day, of the night of the champions, believe me, it’s a dream to them. I see your point, but we give them something and we give something big.”

It’s the same situation for Red Bull, who won’t receive the Constructors’ Championship until the FIA gala.