Max Verstappen hopes for a “ideal weekend” in Japan to defend his championship

Max Verstappen hopes for a “ideal weekend” in Japan to defend his championship

For the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend to seal his second consecutive Formula One championship, Max Verstappen remarked on Thursday that he needed “a perfect weekend.”

Red Bull’s championship lead can be secured in Suzuka if he gains eight points on Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and six points on teammate Sergio Perez.

That would occur if Verstappen won the race and set the quickest lap time, or if he finished first and Leclerc finished lower than second.

Despite the fact that the Japanese Grand Prix has crowned 12 previous Formula One world champions, the flying Dutchman is trying not to concentrate too much about clinching the title.

“It would be really lovely if it happened here, but if it doesn’t happen here, I will be even more in favor of the next race,” said the 25-year-old, who finished eighth in last week’s Singapore Grand Prix, missing out on the championship.

“It doesn’t really change anything; you simply want to have a wonderful weekend and get the most out of it.”

“I need a great weekend to win the championship here, but to be honest, I’m not thinking about it too much.”

If Verstappen wins in Suzuka, he will become only the third driver, after Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, to win the championship with four races remaining.

Verstappen is thrilled to be fighting in front of the “crazy” Japanese fans once more as the Japanese Grand Prix is back after a three-year hiatus thanks to Covid.

“They’re incredibly enthusiastic — crazy in a good sense — and they really dress up,” Verstappen, who has won 11 of 17 races this season, added.

“Many folks were seen going around with a DRS rear wing on their heads. It demonstrates how popular motorsport is in Japan.”

Special relationship

This weekend’s race will include a Honda branding on Verstappen’s Red Bull car as part of a “strengthened connection” with the Japanese firm.

Honda officially exited Formula One at the end of the 2017 season, but has agreed to continue giving technical help in engine development to Red Bull and sister team Alpha Tauri until the end of the 2025 season.

Verstappen stated that winning the championship in Japan would be “particularly special” due to his team’s relationship with Honda.

“It’s fantastic to see the car’s entire name back on it,” he stated.

“It’s even more wonderful that they’re back in the vehicle right before their home race. We’ve been having a lot of fun working together.”

Verstappen will be aiming to outdo his performance from the previous weekend, which was hindered by a fueling error during qualifying that left him with too much work to do on the challenging Marina Bay street circuit.

Verstappen described the race as “a good illustration of how you don’t want a weekend to go,” but he argued that “not really much has changed” in Japan.

“They all realize it was a poor weekend,” he said, “but we’ve also proved this year that we’ve had a lot of fantastic weekends, so we know how to do it.”

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