How Max Verstappen can win the F1 title this weekend, as Daniel Ricciardo just aims for strong finish

Max Verstappen will go into this weekend’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix with a slender, eight-point lead in the Formula 1 drivers championship.

The 24-year-old Red Bull driver has almost been helpless in the past two races as seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton stormed to consecutive victories, closing the gap between the drivers.

However, while Hamilton and his Mercedes team have all of the momentum, Verstappen can still be crowned world champion in Jeddah.

For this to happen, Verstappen will have to finish in the top two, or the title fight will go to the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

To be world champion, Verstappen will have to leave Saudi Arabia with a 27-point lead over Hamilton.

Verstappen will become champion this weekend if he finishes:

  • first with the fastest lap and Hamilton finishes sixth or lower
  • first and Hamilton finishes seventh or lower
  • second with the fastest lap and Hamilton is 10th or lower
  • second and Hamilton finishes 11th or lower.

This weekend will be the first time Formula 1 cars race around the streets of Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city.

Formula 1 predicts the average speed of the cars across the laps will be 252 kilometres per hour, quicker than at Silverstone or Monza.

The street circuit is set to offer plenty of overtaking opportunities, which organisers hope will provide a dramatic, unpredictable race.

McLaren driver Lando Norris said he believed drivers were going to enjoy the new track after practising in the simulator.

“The track in Jeddah is going to be fun. It’s a really fast and flowing track with close walls, which will create a unique challenge,” he said.  

“I’ve been driving the circuit in the simulator to get up to speed with the layout.

Ricciardo wants to end season on a high

Race driver with is helmet on sitting in his open-wheel car.
Daniel Ricciardo says he has taken time away to prepare for the final two races of the season.(Getty Images: Formula 1/Dan Istitene)

Daniel Ricciardo says his McLaren team has been working tirelessly in preparation for the season’s final two races, on the back of a run of disappointing results.

After the Australian finished fifth in the US, he has failed to score a point in the next three races.

The poor run has taken away any hope of Ricciardo finishing the year higher than eighth in the drivers championship.

A tough run of results for his teammate Norris has allowed Ferrari to surge past McLaren into third in the constructor’s championship as well.

Ricciardo said the team around him believed they could end the season on a high note, starting with this weekend’s race.

“We don’t really know what to expect in Jeddah, but we’ve been working hard as a team back in the UK to prepare for the event, and we head to the Middle East ready to fight,” he said.

“We’ll be doing our best to bring home some decent points and end the season on a high.”

The Australian said he had taken time away after struggling in the previous three races, which has him prepared for the push to the season finale.

“Coming off the back of an intense — but ultimately disappointing — triple-header, it’s been good to take some time out of the car and reset for the final two races of the year,” he said.

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