Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen steps out of his car after the sprint race ahead of the Qatari Formula One Grand Prix at the Lusail International Circuit on October 7, 2023. Photo: AFP
Verstappen finished second in the sprint race in Qatar and 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 and his teammate Lando Norris was third.
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.
“Unbelievable. Guys, I don’t know what to say,” Verstappen told his team. “It’s been a pleasure so far this year.”
Verstappen parked up in the pit lane and stood atop his car with three fingers raised on his right hand before going to celebrate with his team.
Verstappen started third Saturday but was slow off the line and was in fifth after the first lap before fighting his way through the field.
Perez was in a three-way fight with Ocon and the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg midway through the sprint when Ocon clipped Hulkenberg’s wheel and span into Perez on the outside of the corner. Both Ocon and Perez’s cars were left stuck in the gravel.
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