Max Verstappen could win his second F1 world title amid budget cap row, but can Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari or even rain stop the Red Bull star at the legendary Suzuka circuit? SEVEN things to look out for at the return of the Japanese Grand Prix

Max Verstappen is cruising towards a second world championship with far more ease than his controversial final lap decider last season – but that hasn’t stopped yet another F1 war breaking out among the top teams. They will instead focus on helping Verstappen seal the title after his bungled race in Singapore last time out. Verstappen could have won the world championship last Sunday in Singapore, only for him to endure one of his worst weekends of the season to finish seventh. Verstappen simply needs to outscore Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by eight points and also gain six points on team-mate Sergio Perez. The simplest way this could happen is if he wins the race with a fastest lap or if he takes victory without the fastest lap and Leclerc fails to finish second – not unlikely given the Suzuka circuit is thought to favour Red Bull’s car. Verstappen finishes first with fastest lap: Verstappen is world champion. Verstappen finishes first without fastest lap: Leclerc places no higher than third. Verstappen finishes second: Leclerc places no higher than fifth with fastest lap. Verstappen finishes third with fastest lap: Leclerc places no higher than sixth. Verstappen finishes third without fastest lap: Leclerc places no higher than seventh. Verstappen finishes fourth: Leclerc places no higher than eighth. Verstappen finishes fifth: Leclerc places no higher than ninth. Verstappen finishes seventh or lower: Verstappen cannot claim the title at Suzuka. While it is practically inevitable Verstappen will win the championship at some point, Ferrari will still be keen to ruin any title parade while they still can. It’s a legendary circuit and has crowned many world champions given its former status as one of the last races of the season.

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