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Verstappen's third straight F1 title looks like a formality at mid-season break

Max Verstappen Max Verstappen - The Canadian Press

PARIS (AP) — Max Verstappen's dominance is so total that it already feels like he's won his third straight Formula One title, even with 10 races remaining following the mid-season break.

With a lead of 125 points over his nearest rival, the Red Bull driver is already in position to watch a highlights reel of his season and list his favorite wins. There have been 10 out of 12 races so far, plus a further two victories when including sprint races.

After winning the Belgian Grand Prix with another emphatic drive on Sunday, Verstappen was asked which of the victories he likes the most.

"It’s difficult to choose. There have been a lot of nice ones," he said. “I think the one actually which I really enjoyed was like back in time in Miami.”

Back in time?

May 7, to be precise, although it may seem long ago in Verstappen's world considering he has won every race since.

At that point in the season, however, his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez was a self-declared title contender and still actually looking like one.

The Mexican driver had just done the main race-sprint race double at Azerbaijan, and his confidence was boosted further when he took pole position for Miami with Verstappen qualifying in a lowly ninth.

“Tough qualifying,” Verstappen said. “So probably for me, that was a very enjoyable one.”

Not for Perez, who finished second behind Verstappen and has not won since. He's acknowledged that his confidence was badly shaken, and it showed in the results after Miami: Perez was 16th in Monaco, fourth in Spain and sixth in Canada. He also went five straight races without qualifying in the top 10 despite Red Bull having easily the best car in F1.

“It’s been a bit of a rough patch,” Perez said after finishing second in Belgium. “I really look forward to not leaving the podium anymore from now until the end of the year.”

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who was third on Sunday, is also contending himself with podiums.

“This was the best we could achieve today, no doubt,” said Leclerc, who has not won a race since July 10 last year.

Verstappen is the youngest driver to win an F1 race, doing so when he was 18 years old on his Red Bull debut in 2016.

Now he's racing in his own world, alone in front as he chases more milestones and records.

If Verstappen wins on his home track at the Netherlands GP on Aug. 27, then he will equal Sebastian Vettel's record of nine straight wins from 2013, which was during Vettel's heyday with Red Bull.

Verstappen's own F1 record of 15 wins from last year also looks to set to be crushed.

Despite being only 25, he's already on 45 F1 wins overall.

Next on the list is four-time F1 champion Alain Prost, who is fourth all-time with 51 wins.

Such is Verstappen's intensity and thirst for victory that even Vettel's tally of 53 might even be within his reach this year.

It's increasingly hard to back against Verstappen.


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