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Max Verstappen rates himself as ‘long shot’ to win title in Singapore | Racing News

SINGAPORE: Max Verstappen said Thursday he thinks he has “a long shot” to keep his Formula 1 world championship at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, even if it is mathematically possible.
Red Bull driver Verstappen, who is celebrating his 25th birthday on Friday, will run away with the title fight but must win Sunday’s race and then depend on his closest rivals faltering or the fight moves to Japan the following week.
“I’m not really thinking about the championship,” said the dominant Dutchman, who has won 11 of 16 races in 2022 and the last five in a row.
“It’s quite an opportunity and I just want to enjoy the weekend and of course try to win it,” he told reporters.
“I need a lot of luck to make it happen here, so I’m not really counting on it.”
Verstappen admitted he knew the scenario he needed to secure back-to-back championships.
“I have to win and Checo (Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez) has to finish fourth or lower and (Ferrari’s) Charles (Leclerc) eighth or lower.
“So I mean, it’s a little bit unrealistic for it to happen, so I don’t really think about it,” he said.
Verstappen said he was more concerned about the Red Bull’s pace in Singapore, where qualifying on pole position is crucial at a track where it is almost impossible to overtake.
“We really need to focus on one lap. This year we’ve never been really great in one lap,” he said.
“We’ve always been good in the race, but here we know that one-lap performance is very important.”
Verstappen has never won the spectacular Singapore night race, which will return to the calendar for the first time since 2019 due to Covid.
The nature of the city center circuit and Singapore’s tropical heat and humidity make it the most demanding venue on the calendar, both physically and mentally.
Every race of the Singapore Grand Prix was equipped with a safety car and the race required enormous concentration.
There are no long straights to give drivers a breather and concrete walls lining the bumpy tarmac are ready to punish the slightest mistake.
“We haven’t been to Singapore for a while so it will be interesting to see how the track has developed,” said Verstappen, who has a 116-point lead over Leclerc after his win in the Italian Grand Prix three weeks ago.
He is 125 clear of third-placed Perez.
He must extend his lead to 138 points at Sunday’s checkered flag to secure the earliest championship win since Michael Schumacher won in 2002 with six GPs to go.
Verstappen needs two more wins to match the single-season mark of 13 jointly by Schumacher (2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2013).
“It will be nice if we get it,” said Verstappen. “But for me personally it’s nothing. It’s nice what we’ve done in recent races, but I don’t think about it anymore.
“I’m just focusing on what we have to do here.”

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