Verstappen needs ‘perfect weekend’ to seal F1 title in Japan

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen needs a “perfect weekend” if he is to seal his second world drivers’ championship at the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix.

The title race remains, mathematically at least, alive after Verstappen was unable to lock it away at the first opportunity a week ago in Singapore.

He holds a 104-point advantage over Charles Leclerc at the top of the standings. If his margin rises to 112 by the end of the weekend, Verstappen will be champion for the second time.

“It would make it a little bit extra special because of our relationship with Honda,” Verstappen said of wrapping up the title in Suzuka this weekend.

“I think it was already a shame that we couldn’t be here last year already, in a title fight.

“That’s why we’re really forward to, to be back here, and then we’ll see what happens. We need a perfect weekend, that’s for sure.”

Victory and the bonus point for fastest lap would guarantee him the championship regardless of what Leclerc, or Sergio Perez who is only two points further back, are capable of.

His rivals have all but ceded the title already, with Leclerc looking towards 2023 rather than continuing the fight this year.

“Realistically, Max is going to be a champion. If it’s not this weekend it’s going to be very, very soon,” said the Ferrari driver.

“But we need to focus on ourselves, try to execute well the Sunday because the performance is not what we lacked this year.

“If we look from the first race to now, we’ve always been strong and the performance was always good enough to actually fight for wins, apart from some off [races] but there weren’t many.

“I think it’s mostly about trying to put everything together coming the Sunday; strategy, tyre management, and that’s where we are focusing on at the moment.

“This is the step that we’ll have to do next year in order to fight for the championship.”

“It would be very nice if it happens here,” Verstappen reiterated.

“But if it doesn’t happen here, I will be even more in favour [at] the next race, so doesn’t really change anything.

“You just want to have a good weekend and try to maximise everything you can.

“And of course, I need a perfect weekend to be able to clinch the title here but to be honest, I’m not really thinking about it too much.”

Opening practice in Suzuka gets underway at 12:00 local time tomorrow (14:00 AEDT/04:00 BST/23:00 ET).

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