Written by Olivia Hartley, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
In a season of new regulations, Ferrari started on a strong note. Charles Leclerc was running away with the championship, putting him 46 points ahead of Max Verstappen after only three races. At this point, nobody would have predicted that Max would now be nearly double that ahead of Charles as we come to the end of the first half of this Formula 1 season.
Fans still hope for a championship fight, but just how realistic is it that Charles Leclerc could once again become a threat to Max Verstappen and take back the championship? The statistics say not very.
Leclerc will go into the second half of this season exactly 80 points behind Max with nine races to go, or an average of 8.9 points per race. Taking into account the differences in points awarded for each place per race, and ignoring points for fastest lap for ease of calculation, let’s look at what Leclerc would have to achieve in order to take the championship title. Given that there is only a 7 point difference between first and second place in each race, this would not be sufficient to secure the title for the Monegasque driver. Even if Max finished second to Charles in every race, this would still leave Max 17 points ahead by the end of the final race. Therefore, Charles Leclerc would have to win every remaining race this season with Verstappen finishing no higher than third, as this allows for a 10 point difference per race, accounting for Leclerc’s 8.9 points per race deficit. The same applies for Sergio Perez, who would also have to win every race left this season with Verstappen in third, as Perez is currently an average 9.4 points per race behind his teammate.
George Russell, Carlos Sainz, and Lewis Hamilton fall between 11.1 and 12.4 points per race behind Verstappen. This means that in order for any of these drivers to win the championship, Verstappen would have to place no higher than fourth while they won every remaining race.
No driver has ever come back from being 80 points down in the history of Formula 1, and these figures make it clear why.
This may provide an unrealistic picture of how the season is likely to look, due to the fact that DNFs and accidents are always very possible, and can strike any team or driver. However, it does demonstrate how significant Max Verstappen’s lead is, and therefore how difficult it will be, mathematically speaking, for him to lose the championship this year.