Our guide to how Max Verstappen can be crowned Formula 1 world champion for the second time in his career at Suzuka; watch the Japanese Grand Prix live and exclusive on Sky Sports F1, with race at 6am on Sunday
Saturday 8 October 2022 21:54, UK
Max Verstappen has put himself in the best possible position to wrap up his second Formula 1 world championship at the Japanese GP after clinching pole for Sunday's race, which is all live on Sky Sports F1.
His closest title rival Charles Leclerc starts second but, put simply, Verstappen will be crowned champion if he wins the race with a fastest lap bonus point, although there are plenty of other permutations should he not manage that.
The Suzuka race starts at 6am on Sky Sports F1, with build-up from 4.30am.
Following the Singapore Grand Prix, Verstappen leads the way in the drivers' standings with 341 points heading into the Japanese Grand Prix, 104 clear of Leclerc in second place and 106 ahead of third-placed Sergio Perez.
Mercedes' George Russell was eliminated from contention after failing to score points at the last race in Singapore.
Verstappen needs to be 112 points clear after the race at Suzuka to ensure he has clinched the title with four races of the season to go, which would make him only the fourth driver after Michael Schumacher (2001, 2002 and 2004), Nigel Mansell (1992) and Sebastian Vettel (2011) to secure the crown with four races left.
Including the upcoming Grand Prix in Japan, there are a maximum of 138 points up for grabs across the remaining races if fastest lap bonus points and the eight for winning the sprint race at next month's Brazilian Grand Prix are taken into account along with the 25 awarded for Grand Prix wins.
Victory at Suzuka will see Verstappen crowned champion if Leclerc finishes lower than second.
However, victory with the bonus point for the fastest lap will ensure he retains his title irrespective of where the Ferrari man finishes.
Verstappen also has the advantage of head-to-head in terms of the tiebreaker of race wins, currently leading Leclerc 11-3, should the two end the year level on points.
A win in Japan would ensure Perez can no longer win the title no matter where he finishes in the race.
Verstappen will not be crowned champion in Japan if Leclerc or Perez finish ahead of him. He would therefore have to wait until the following race in the USA to potentially seal the title.
The Dutchman also cannot win the title in Japan if he finishes outside the top six.
If he fails to win in Japan, Verstappen needs to score a minimum of eight more points than Leclerc and a minimum of six more points than Perez to be crowned champion.
If Verstappen finishes second, Leclerc would have to finish higher than sixth or to keep the title race alive. Fifth is only good enough if he gets the fastest lap. Perez could prolong the title race by finishing fourth or third if Verstappen takes the bonus point.
If Verstappen finishes third with the fastest lap bonus point, Leclerc will have to finish fifth or higher or Perez needs to finish a minimum of fourth to deny him.
If the reigning champion finishes third without the bonus point, sixth place for Leclerc or fourth place for Perez will be enough to keep the title race going beyond the weekend.
If Verstappen finishes fourth, Leclerc needs to finish at least seventh regardless of whether his title rival claims a bonus point or not. Perez would need to finish sixth or seventh with the bonus point.
A fifth-place finish for Verstappen would see Leclerc have to finish no lower than eighth or Perez seventh.
A sixth-place finish for Verstappen at Suzuka would mean he could only win the title if Leclerc finishes outside the points. Perez could extend the title race by finishing ninth or eighth with a bonus point.
Watch Max Verstappen bid to seal his second world championship live on Sky Sports F1 on Sunday. The Japanese GP starts at 6am, with build-up from 4.30am.