Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has affirmed that he a second world championship is not on his mind heading into the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend.
The Dutchman has won 11 of the opening 16 rounds of the 2022 season thus far, and he is bidding to successfully defend the championship he won at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Despite the shaky start due to reliability, Verstappen has established a 116-point lead over Charles Leclerc, who has suffered from reliability issues of his own, as well as strategic blunders from his team.
It all leaves the 25-year-old Hasselt-born driver in with a shout of wrapping up the championship trophy – upon which one hand is already placed – this weekend.
This weekend, he needs a race win and, provided he takes the fastest lap, he needs Leclerc to finish eighth or lower.
He then needs Sergio Perez to finish fourth or lower, and the crown will be his for a second year running.
Asked about the prospect of becoming a double world champion, Verstappen described it as “not bad.”
A second championship will put the Red Bull driver level with Fernando Alonso, who won his two championships in 2005 and 2006.
The Spaniard’s moves to McLaren in 2007 and again in 2015 worked against him, as did his return to Renault in 2008.
He spent five seasons with Ferrari between 2010 and 2014, and despite coming tantalisingly close in ’10 and ’12, he was beaten by Sebastian Vettel both times.
Were the 32-time race winner in a more competitive car though, Verstappen reckons Alonso would have earned more world titles.
“In F1, you need a bit of luck, and you need to have the luck that you make the right decision and then have a dominant car for a long time,” he explained, quoted by Crash.net.
“Because I mean, obviously, if you would have put Fernando in the cars where other people have won championships with, he would have done the same. But that’s not how F1 works.
“At the end of the day, he still won two titles so I think he’s done very well for himself, and he’s also a great guy and a great personality for F1.”
If the title is not wrapped up this weekend, it almost certainly will be in Japan next weekend, and due to the multiple stipulations around the Singapore Grand Prix, the reigning champion is not thinking about the prize-giving gala in December just yet.
“I don’t really think about it, it’s quite a long shot. I just want to enjoy the weekend, and of course, try to win it,” added Verstappen.
“I think Japan is nicer. Also, I need a lot of luck for it to happen here, so I don’t really count on it…
“I think [Suzuka will be] my first proper opportunity to win the title. So, I’m looking forward to Singapore right now, but I’m also very excited for next week.”
Verstappen and team-mate, Sergio Perez, are also close to sealing the Constructors’ Championship – they have a 139-point lead over the Ferrari pair of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.