12 December 2021

Consistency pays off – the numbers behind Max Verstappen’s F1 title win

12 December 2021

Max Verstappen clinched his maiden Formula One title with an astonishing last-lap victory in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton to pip him to top spot in the winner-takes-all showdown.

Here, the PA news agency takes a statistical look at the sport’s newest champion.

Consistency counts

PA graphic

Despite his volatile reputation, consistency has been key with Verstappen matching the Formula One record for podium finishes in a season with 18 – he has now won 10 races and finished second on eight occasions.

Victory in Abu Dhabi put him alongside Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton as the only drivers to record 10 or more wins in a season.

Schumacher and Vettel share the record with 13 victories, in 2004 and 2013 respectively, with each adding an 11-win season to match the best of Hamilton’s six double-figure campaigns.

Verstappen’s only times outside the podium places this year saw him finish ninth in Hungary and 18th in Azerbaijan, in addition to a pair of crashes with Hamilton that took him out of the British and Italian Grands Prix.

He and Hamilton between them have won all but four races this season, with one each for their respective team-mates Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas plus Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo.

In the Austrian Grand Prix, Verstappen even managed the ultimate mark of consistency over the course of an event, a “grand slam” – qualifying on pole, winning the race, leading after every lap in between and adding the fastest lap.

Delivering on his potential

Max Verstappen made an early impression in F1 (David Davies/PA) (PA Archive)

Between the ages of 17 and 19, Verstappen became the youngest driver to participate in a grand prix weekend, start a race, score points, win a race and finish on the podium, lead a lap and set a fastest lap.

He was not able to convert that into the same status on the list of world champions – prior to Sunday, Verstappen’s 19 grand prix wins were the most of any Formula One driver who had not won a world title as he finished 12th, fifth, sixth, fourth, and then third twice in the championship standings since entering F1 in 2015.

Having now taken the final step, he becomes the fourth-youngest Formula One champion – at 24 years and 73 days, he is two weeks older than Fernando Alonso was when he won his first title in 2005. Vettel, the record holder, and Hamilton both won aged 23.

Sunday was Verstappen’s 59th podium finish in 140 career races across seven seasons. He has more race wins than his father Jos Verstappen’s total points in his Formula One career – 17, highlighted by third-placed finishes in Hungary and Belgium in his debut season in 1994.

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