IMax Verstappen is confident in his abilities, a sense of self-confidence growing in him since taking his first Formula One championship last season. Yet of course he couldn’t expect to use quite an iron grip this year in a title defense that could wrap up this weekend in Singapore.
The Dutchman and his Red Bull team have been so impressive this season that the championship is in his hands and he could get it to join a rare group of F1 drivers at Marina Bay on Sunday. With a 116-point lead over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Verstappen will be world champion if he wins and takes the fastest lap, unless Leclerc is over eighth and his Red Bull teammate Sergio Pérez makes the podium. Huh.
Had he pulled it off he would have done so with still five races left, the same buffer Nigel Mansell managed for Williams in 1992. Michael Schumacher is the only other driver to take the title so early, with six races remaining in 2002 to do so. , almost imperceptibly in early July, while he completed it with four additions in 2001 and 2004. Vettel managed it as prominent as the 2022 edition at Red Bull, with four to go in 2011.
Mansell’s Williams FW14B in 1992, the “Red Five” as his car was known, was designed by Adrian Newey, the architect of Red Bull’s breakthrough, demonstrating a touch of flair to create quick and often beautiful cars. which they have never lost. Mansell put it to use with disastrous effect. Starting with five consecutive victories, they sealed the championship in 11 of 16 meetings in Hungary in August.
Mansell was dominant and closed that year with nine victories, seeing Ayrton Senna, Ricardo Patrese and a young Schumacher in the process. Mansell finished his F1 career with 31 wins, the same number held by Verstappen. However, while 1992 was Mansell’s biggest win, he was 39 years old, in his last full season in F1, and this is where the similarities end with Verstappen’s similarly domineering performance this year.
There is still a lot of opening for Verstappen this weekend in Singapore in what is likely to be a remarkable career. The Dutchman only turned 25 on Friday but this year has displayed a control and maturity that Mansell will certainly recognize. He has already amassed 11 victories this 22-race season and has barely kept a leg up on achieving them. For all that the threat from Ferrari and Leclerc failed to materialize with the Scuderia affected by team and driver errors, Verstappen and Red Bull would have been difficult to match regardless.
This means fans have been deprived of the tense battles and flamboyant sectarianism for the season that made 2021 so thrilling that, while Verstappen may not do it in Singapore, he will certainly make it to the next round in Japan. Will be Yet this should not be less than his achievements. Verstappen has certainly enjoyed it as much as he did with Lewis Hamilton scraping the Titanic last year.