Red Bull Racing Max Verstappen surges to win the 2023 Formula 1 World Driver’s Championship, his third consecutive title at the pinnacle of Motorsport.
The stunning feat achieved by the 26-year-old at the Lusail International Circuit in Qatar on Saturday saw Max Verstappen clinching a second place in the Qatar Grand Prix Sprint race, enough for the Dutch driver to become a three-time FIA Formula One World Champion.
“It’s a fantastic feeling. It’s been an incredible year,” he said after the race.
Assessing the performances that led him to join legends such as Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, or Jackie Stewart, he outlined: “A lot of great races and course super-proud but also super-proud of the job of the team.
“It’s just been so enjoyable to be part of that group of people. To be a three-time World Champion is just incredible.”
It is the first time in the series history that a driver is crowned world champion at an F1 Sprint.
The 19-lap race also marked rookie Oscar Piastri’s maiden victory in the series for McLaren.
Piastri, 22, running flawlessly in Losail for the first time as a rookie driver, recorded the fastest lap time at the Sprint Shootout to start the race from pole position.
The Australian shared the front row with teammate Lando Norris, securing a one-two start for the squad founded by Bruce McLaren in 1963.
In the rear mirror, they had Verstappen and George Russell with Mercedes on the Soft tires, a strategy that cost the Briton high through the race.
A much-anticipated fierce battle for the lead soon built momentum as the tires played a crucial role in gaining positions.
Soon enough, the Ferrari of Carlos Saiz and Charles Leclerc joined the party on the front, but both cars failed to overtake Russell, who took second place.
The drivers challenging one another on the middle field caused the first Safety Car when Liam Lawson’s AlphaTauri exited the track, ending in the gravel.
Minutes later, following a chaotic restart, Russell stole the lead from Piastri on lap 3. Then, the Williams of Logan Sargeant spun off into the gravel, and the SC returned to the track, challenging the team’s strategies.
At the end of lap sixth, action resumed, and Russell wasted no time, opening a two-second gap over Piastri.
Nonetheless, the skillful Aussie, on the Medium compound, soon recovered lost ground to take back the top on lap 10.
For his part, the Dutchman gained valuable positions as DRS was enabled; only a lap later, the Alpine of Esteban Ocon took out of the race Sergio Perez, who slid off into the gravel, releasing the Safety Car for the third time.
After the restart at the end of lap 14, Verstappen reeled off Russell, who fell to third place overall, and then Norris made his move, guaranteeing a spot on the podium in the final lap.
On the top spot for the first time, Piastri shared the podium with the 2023 champion Verstappen and his teammate in third place.
Two weeks ago, Red Bull Racing secured its sixth constructor’s world championship at the Japanese GP held on the traditional circuit of Suzuka at the hands of Verstappen, who notched the team’s 15th victory of the season from 16 and with six races still ahead.
In Japan, CHRISTIAN HORNER, CEO and Red Bull Team Principal, stressed: “Once again, it was a phenomenal performance from the team. I have been saying it all year, but this kind of season would be impossible without the hard work that goes on behind the scenes from all the different departments, both back at Milton Keynes and here at the track.”
“From the crazy hours they work through to the relentless pursuit for better, it is a true team effort and one to be immensely proud of. So that is 6 for us and an amazing moment for the team.”
Earlier in the season, Verstappen claimed an impressive record-breaking ten-race winning streak, showing the challenger and the driver were in perfect sintony to build a dominant campaign throughout the season, and so they did.
On Sunday, the champion will aim to earn his 49th career win in F1.