Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen is not particularly nervous about his first chance to win the title this season in Qatar. “I approach the weekend like any other, it doesn’t change anything. I know in the back of my mind that it can happen, but it doesn’t put any extra pressure on me,” said the Red Bull star from the Netherlands.

The 26-year-old confidently secured first place on the grid for the main race on Sunday on Friday evening on the desert circuit. Already today (7.30 p.m./Sky) Verstappen can complete the successful defense of his title early in the sprint. A sixth place at the Lusail International Circuit is enough for him to no longer be pushed out of first place in the overall ranking. In total, he only needs to get three World Cup points in the Arabian Gulf to win the next World Cup trophy.

Verstappen will be the eleventh driver to win at least three titles if nothing unforeseen happens. Former driver Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes are at the top with seven triumphs each. An end to Verstappen’s title series is not necessarily in sight given his superiority in Red Bull and the next major rule reform, which won’t come until 2026.