F1: Unstoppable Verstappen Set For Record-Breaking Season
The Dutchman has showcased tremendous form so far this season that only looks set to continue, Rhonan Colquhoun reports.
Reigning Champion Max Verstappen produced two of the most trail-blazing grand prix wins in Hungary and in Belgium where both events were broken-up by the sport’s summer break.
The Red Bull driver now leads the championship by an incredible 93 points over second place driver and team-mate Sergio Perez. The Mexican leapfrogged Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc after the Belgian GP to become Verstappen’s nearest challenger.
Simply, Verstappen can afford to finish second at the remaining eight races and still wrap-up the title and become back-to-back champion.
Verstappen’s most recent triumph round the Belgian GP left the other 19 drivers on the grid in absolute awe. The Dutchman made light work of his pre-race grid penalty which demoted him from Pole Position to 14th. His charge from the bottom-half of the mid-field to be leading the race took only 12 laps.
Briefly losing the lead under the pit-stops and difference of strategies, Verstappen regained the lead on Lap 18 and never looked back – cruising to his ninth win of the season.
The narrative heading into the Belgian GP weekend switched from ‘can Ferrari mount even the faintest of comebacks’ to ‘at what race can Verstappen clinch the title and what records can he break doing so’.
The Records In Reach
Verstappen crossed the line on Sunday to clinch his ninth win of the season and if he keeps on track, he’ll beat the record of most wins in a season. The record, which is currently held by both Micheal Schumacher in 2004 and Sebastian Vettel in 2013, stands at 13 wins in a season so Verstappen will need to win five of the eight remaining races to break the record.
Over Verstappen’s career, he’s yet to win at three of the remaining races which include Ferrari’s home ground at Monza, Singapore and Japan.
There’s potential for Verstappen to extend his current winning streak which currently stands at three races. Most recently, Vettel managed to achieve nine race wins in a row towards the climax of the 2013 Season. This is a potentially unlikely record to be broken but you can’t rule anything out at this point.
With his nine victories, Verstappen has also stood on the podium two further times bringing his tally to 11 podium appearances so far this season. Having already broken the record last year with 18 podiums, Verstappen is on track to match or better his 2021 tally by one if everything goes his way.
As previously mentioned, Verstappen has an insane deficit to the second placed driver in the championship – being Sergio Perez and 93 points adrift – Verstappen’s tally has the possibility to extend further. The current record is held once again by Sebastian Vettel who beat Fernando Alonso by 155 points to the 2013 title. At the moment, if the cards fell Verstappen’s way, he could end up with a lead of 145 points over second place.
Heading into the Dutch GP this weekend, Verstappen’s current points haul stands at 284 points but with more points on offer this season than any other before, there’s one more record in reach.
This time however, that record is not held by Sebastian Vettel but by Lewis Hamilton who collected 413 points en route to his sixth title in 2019. With 216 points on offer for the rest of the season, Verstappen only needs to collect 130 to break that record.
With the Dutch GP only a few days away, one thing can be expected, Verstappen is returning to his home circuit to a hero’s welcome and to a passionate, yet sometimes crazy, fanbase of the Orange Army.