Max Verstappen has gone through this season being told by select members of the Formula 1 community that he is an unworthy champion.
Michael Masi’s controversial call last season ultimately played a decisive factor in the fate of the 2021 title, as Sir Lewis Hamilton was cruelly denied his eighth success.
But the Dutchman won 10 races last campaign, and stood on the podium in 18 of the 22 races – he finished second on eight of those occasions.
Statistically, it was a ridiculous year from both competitors, who proved, without a shadow of a doubt, they are the two best in the business at the moment.
It was, despite the drama, a title that the 24-year-old fully earned, and as he nears his 25th birthday, he also inches closer to a second championship on the spin.
Verstappen leads the championship by 116 points after taking another 11 wins this campaign – he has already beaten his tally from last year with six rounds to go of the 2022 season.
That has all transpired after he suffered two reliability-related retirements in the opening three rounds of the 2022 season; the Hasselt-born Dutchman has been a man possessed.
In Singapore next time out, Verstappen could become the joint second quickest-ever driver to seal the title with four rounds to go.
Only Nigel Mansell has managed that with his success in 1922, while Michael Schumacher’s utter dominance of the 2002 season saw him win it with six remaining.
But what needs to happen? Well, to wrap it up this early, he needs a win which, on a Singapore street track expected to suit Ferrari, may not be the easiest task.
However, we have seen Verstappen work wonders before, so that is absolutely not out of reach, and if he achieves that result, he needs Charles Leclerc to finish eighth or lower.
Even if the Monegasque takes the fastest lap while finishing down there, he will still be mathematically out of the title hunt.
If Sergio Perez is beaten by 13 points by his team-mate, that is him out of contention too, so the 32-year-old realistically needs a podium in three weeks to stay in it.
A Verstappen win of any kind puts George Russell, Carlos Sainz and Hamilton out of the title race too.
Should the Red Bull ace fail to score at all at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, he will not wrap up the title; in fact, only a win will do.
Depending on how things shake out under the lights, it is likely that Verstappen will only need a podium in Japan to take his second consecutive crown.
That would see him win the championship with four races remaining, something only Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Schumacher have done before.
There really has been no stopping Verstappen in 2022, and with 11 wins on the board with six races to go, he could also be on course to win more than 13 races in a single season, and break the record held jointly by Schumacher and Vettel.
Further, if he wins all of the next five, he will break Vettel’s record of nine consecutive victories. All of this, while he is still just 24 years of age.