Verstappen can extend Japan's title-winning record as championship awaits

Victory and the fastest lap for Max Verstappen in Japan on Sunday will seal the Formula One title for the Red Bull ace and continue a record in the land of the rising sun.

The Japanese Grand Prix has been the venue where championship winners have been crowned the most, happening on 12 occasions – the last of which was Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull in 2011.

Verstappen, who will also win the title if Charles Leclerc finishes third or lower and team-mate Sergio Perez finishes second or lower without the fastest lap, can clinch the title with four races to spare – only Michael Schumacher in 2002 (6) and Nigel Mansell in 1995 (5) have been crowned champion sooner in the season.

A further honour also awaits Verstappen in Japan, where a win would be the 23rd different venue where he has topped the podium, surpassing Schumacher (22) and behind only Lewis Hamilton (31).

Regardless of Verstappen's exploits in Japan, the title is a near certainty to be heading his way and it would require a remarkable sequence of events for the situation to change.

The budget cap situation is the biggest threat, with the FIA set to announce results for the 2021 season on Wednesday, although any outcome is unlikely to be final and arguments are expected to rumble on within the paddock.

Leclerc's pole problem

Charles Leclerc has taken pole position and failed to win the race on seven occasions in 2022, the most recent coming in Singapore last weekend where Sergio Perez won ahead of the Ferrari driver.

Another pole without a win in 2022 would equal the highest tally in a single season, set by Mika Hakkinen in 1999 and Nico Rosberg in 2014.

Alonso waits for record

Fernando Alonso set the record for most Grand Prix stats in F1 last weekend (350) but is still waiting to take the record for the most F1 finishes – missing the opportunity to set the record in the last two races.

Alonso is tied with Kimi Raikkonen for the most races finished (378) and has suffered back-to-back DNF's in Italy and Singapore, with Lewis Hamilton (276 finishes) now threatening to leapfrog him if that trend continues.