Seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton has been on both sides of "clinch a title early" equation.
Hamilton has won championships with races still left on the schedule and, like last year, been involved in F1 championship battles that went right down to the last lap. When the early clinch scenario comes to play, Hamilton says there's really only one winner.
And it's not the fans.
"Yeah, definitely, I feel for the fans," Hamilton said in a media availability from Singapore on Thursday. "Last year, going right down to the wire, that was intense for everybody and so it's never great when the season finishes early, even when I've experienced having it finish early, in places like Mexico. For you as the one individual it’s great, but for the actual sport is not spectacular."
For Red Bull's Verstappen to clinch his second consecutive championship this weekend, he would need to leave Singapore with a 138-point lead in the F1 Drivers' Standings over the second-place driver, be it Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, Red Bull's Sergo Perez or Mercedes' George Russell. Verstappen goes into the weekend leading by 116 points over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, while Perez and Russell are still withing striking distance of second place.
A win for Verstappen on Sunday, and the math starts looking pretty good for him to clinch a championship with a full five races left on the 2022 schedule.
"I'm really grateful to have had it like 2008, right down to the last 17 seconds, and obviously last year pretty much the same thing," Hamilton said, alluding to both is loss last year and his 2008 championship. "So yeah, let's hope for the future that it's a bit better."
Better, as in closer.
Hamilton, even though he's winless in 2022 and a distant sixth in the standings, still has plenty to play for. For one thing, he's got a streak of 15 consecutive seasons (2007-2021) with at least one F1 victory. That ties him with Michael Schumacher (1992-2006) for the all-time F1 mark for consecutive season with a win. Schumacher and the 37-year-old Hamilton are also tied with seven championships.
Schumacher won his last championship at age 35.
"For me, I'm really still enjoying all this," Hamilton said. "We’ve still got six races, I'm still enjoying the challenge and proud of the strength and the growth within our team, in terms of the relationships, in terms of our focus, just seeing how hard everyone works in a team is, for me, the most inspiring thing."
As for Verstappen's rivals, it's been hard not to be impressed with his dominant season of 11 wins in the first 16 races,and 21 wins in his last 37 F1 races.
For most of the field, the championship chasing part of the season ended weeks ago.
F1 Drivers' Standings
Top Contenders after 16 Races
Max Verstappen 355 points
Charles Leclerc 219
Sergio Perez 210
George Russell 203