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Max Verstappen

The pros and cons of Verstappen winning the title in the Qatar Sprint

Max Verstappen is all set to win the title in Qatar but in the Sprint race - does that really matter?

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To news overview © XPBimages

Ever since the Monaco Grand Prix where Max Verstappen won and Sergio Perez a twice lapped 16th, it's been abundantly clear of the destination of this season's Drivers' title.

Hopes of a Perez challenge were dashed following a bright start to the season where he won two of the first four races, but his form slumped in the early summer following a crash in qualifying in the principality.

Between May 1st (the day after the Azerbaijan GP) and September 16th (the day before the Singapore GP), Verstappen was undefeated in F1, across Grands Prix, winning all 10 of them, and scooping both Sprint wins in Austria and Belgium.

Of the 276 points on offer during his winning run, Verstappen hauled 271 of them, only missing the fastest lap in Monaco, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. Rarely can there have been such domination of Grand Prix racing.

As he continued to mop up the points and Perez laboured, attention turned to exactly when Verstappen would join Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna as a three-time World Champion.

Chances are, he will leave Qatar as a member of the three-time club, but not in the race itself.

He currently lies 177 points ahead of Perez with 180 left on the board heading to Lusail. Take away the eight for the win in the Sprint, and Verstappen just needs to finish sixth in the 19-lap affair on Saturday night.

If that doesn't happen, by some miracle, chances are it will be decided in the Grand Prix itself - but Verstappen can become the first driver to win the World Championship in a race other than the main Grand Prix - but does that even matter?

Pros of Verstappen winning in the Sprint

Does it really matter when Verstappen wins the title? It's been clear since early summer that he would do so, and so its just been a matter of time and every Grand Prix won a number-crunching exercise as his tally goes up, and the gap Perez had to play with goes down.

Secondly, the way the Sprints have been organised in the 2023 season meant this was a possibility Formula 1 wanted to see.

In both 2021 and 2022, three events apiece were run with this doubled to six for '23, with half of that number stacked towards the final six races of the season.

Qatar, the United States and Brazil are set to be the three events which feature Sprints, all within a four-race period with only Mexico - sandwiched between Austin and Interlagos in a triple-header - running to a conventional schedule.

Interlagos has proved itself an excellent Sprint race host after cracking events in both 2021 and 2022 (it is the only circuit to host a Sprint every year) while the need for an extra race at Austin is self-explanatory.

With this scattering of the Sprints throughout the season and half of them towards the end of the season, with eight points on offer apiece for the winner, this was a strong possibility.

Seeing as the whole point of the Sprints is to get more eyeballs watching F1, it's just a sign of the times that Verstappen will win the title in a Sprint.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

The cons

As Sprints were being rolled out in 2021, F1 was at pains to point out they weren't races.

Originally, the format was used to set the grid for the main Grand Prix, but this proved wildly unpopular with the change being made for 2023 to make Saturday of Sprint weekends an effective standalone with Grand Prix qualifying on a Friday setting the grid, as has always been the case, for Sunday.

The importance and sanctity of a Grand Prix would not be disrupted in anyway whatsoever.

What better way to blow dynamite through that argument than the World Drivers' Championship being decided in a Sprint race?

It's all good and well F1 adding more and more Grands Prix and more and more Sprint races to the calendar, but other die-hard fans who never miss a session or media covering the action, who really has time to devote over nearly half of their weekends throughout the year to watching racing?

Sure there are highlights packages in case you miss a qualifying session or the Grand Prix, but nothing beats watching the special moment a driver is crowned World Champion of the only truly global sport that bestows that title. Despite its best protests, the NBA, NFL and MLB's proclamations of the winning teams being World Champions is nonsense.

Furthermore, why is Qatar's or Brazil's or Austria's leg of the season worth more points than Monaco, Japan or Singapore's?

If every Grand Prix is meant to be equal in stature, reflect that in the points on offer instead of giving this race or that race an extra helping of World Championship points.

What is your opinion on the prospect of Max Verstappen winning the 2023 Drivers' title in the Qatar Sprint race? Does it matter or just what it is? Let us know in the comments and by voting in the poll below!

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