Singapore GP: Birthday boy Verstappen can get F1 title party started early | Racing News

SINGAPORE: Max Verstappen could celebrate more than his 25th birthday at the lit Singapore Grand Prix this weekend as the Dutch driver tries for the first time to secure his second Formula 1 title.
The Red Bull driver, whose birthday is Friday, is 116 points ahead of Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc and 125 over Mexican team-mate Sergio Perez after 16 of 22 races this season.
However, defending champion Verstappen plays it cool.
“It’s a difficult circuit, the humidity is hard on the body and it’s very difficult to do a perfect lap because of the tight corners and the proximity to the walls,” he said.
“I don’t really think about the championship, I just want to have a positive weekend on the track and do it race by race, there is no rush.
There are five innings after Singapore, offering a maximum of 138 runs.
Verstappen must score at least 22 points more than Leclerc and 13 more than Perez on Sunday – meaning he must win and Leclerc finish below eighth place for the title to be decided.
Mercedes driver George Russell and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz are also in a math dispute ahead of Sunday’s race, but only narrowly.
Verstappen trailed Leclerc by 46 points after the first three races of the season but then ran away with the championship as the Monegasque challenge imploded.
He has won 11 out of 16 races, only been on the podium once and is heading to Singapore, a race he has yet to win and where Red Bull has not triumphed since 2013, on a five-game winning streak.
Ferrari dominated the last time Formula 1 visited the city-state in 2019, with the race absent for two seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leclerc finished a frustrated second behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel in 2019 and will be motivated to claim his fourth win of the year.
Mercedes will also be watching their chances for a first win of the season after making huge progress in performance since March, with their car performing particularly well on tight, twisty tracks like Singapore.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who has never finished a season without a win, and team-mate George Russell will also be wary of the bumpy surface while safety cars and possible rain could throw all predictions out the window.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso will set a record with his 350th start, one more than 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
This year’s race will be the first in a new seven-year deal with Formula 1 this year, keeping Singapore on the calendar until at least 2028.
The race, held in the heart of the city against a backdrop of glittering skyscrapers, has established itself as one of the most glamorous and popular in the sport.
Crowds of around 268,000 attended the whole weekend in 2019 and organizers expect a sold-out sale this year.

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