Red Bull’s Max Verstappen secured his third Formula One world championship after his team mate and sole title rival Sergio Perez crashed out of a Qatar Grand Prix sprint on Saturday.
Mexican Perez needed to finish in the top three places to keep the title open for another day, with the main grand prix on Sunday, but started eighth and dropped to 11th before tangling with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg on lap 11.
The Red Bull was then stuck in the gravel, with Perez stepping out.
That meant Verstappen, who was running in third place at the time and went on to finish second and 1.8 seconds behind McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, was the champion for the third year in a row and while still racing.
“Max, you are a three times world champion,” team boss Christian Horner said over the radio as he crossed the finish line.
“That’s unbelievable. It’s been an incredible year for you.”
Verstappen, who has won 13 of 16 grands prix so far including 10 in a row, replied: “Yeah, unbelievable guys. I don’t know what to say. Thank you for providing me with such a car. It’s been a lot of fun this year.”
The 26-year-old Dutch driver also became the second youngest triple world champion after now-retired German Sebastian Vettel, who secured the third of his four crowns with Red Bull in 2012 at the age of 25.
Piastri’s Saturday success ended Red Bull’s domination of the sprints this season.
The Australian rookie’s team mate Lando Norris finished third with Mercedes’ George Russell fourth and team mate Lewis Hamilton fifth after starting 12th and cashing in on the collisions ahead of him.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were sixth and seventh with Williams’ Alex Albon taking the final point of the evening.