Just about everybody knew Max Verstappen would take his third Formula 1 World Championship this weekend, and so it proved. As his hapless teammate and theoretical rival Sergio Perez crunched into the gravel and retired during Qatar’s Saturday Sprint race, Verstappen could not be beaten to another consecutive title.
It’s relatively unusual for a champion to be crowned on any day other than a Sunday; in F1’s long and storied history most grands prix happen on a Sunday, and races have generally been the only times that drivers can score points.
But Saturday titles are not unheard of. In fact, by finishing second in the Sprint behind McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and wrapping up the title, Verstappen is the sixth F1 champion to take their crown on a Saturday.
Max’s other half, Kelly Piquet, is the daughter of another three-time F1 champion, Nelson Piquet, and the Brazilian won not one, but two of his titles on a Saturday, at the 1981 Caesars Palace GP in Las Vegas and at the 1983 South African GP in Kyalami. In fact, Piquet never won a title on a Sunday; his third championship in 1987 was actually secured on a Friday, when his only rival Nigel Mansell suffered a huge crash during Friday qualifying that ended his season.
The British Grand Prix was held on Saturday between 1950 and 1977, and it was at that race in 1955 that Juan Manuel Fangio won his own third world title, finishing second behind Stirling Moss at Silverstone. At the time, Fangio didn’t know he was champ, but when three later races were cancelled in the wake of the 1955 Le Mans disaster, there were not enough points available in the season for anyone to catch him.
The 1959 United States Grand Prix was also held on a Saturday, and saw Australian Jack Brabham win his first world title at Sebring in Florida. He finished fourth after running out of fuel and physically pushing his Cooper (yes, the same Cooper that lends its name to performance Minis) across the line. Fun fact: it was also the first world title for a rear-engined car.
The last race of the 1962 season was the South African Grand Prix at the Prince George Circuit in East London, and yes, it was on a Saturday. The race was won by Graham Hill (father of 1996 world champ Damon) in a BRM, who secured his first title.
The 1982 Caesars Palace Grand Prix in Las Vegas was, for the second year in a row, the venue for a Saturday title decider, when Keke Rosberg (father of 2016 world champ Nico) took his only championship. His fifth-place finish in a Williams was enough to secure victory. Coincidentally, Piquet’s title the year before was also won with a fifth-place finish in his Brabham.
Funnily enough, it could actually be a more common occurrence for Saturday champs to be crowned in the future. In 2024, three of the races on the F1 calendar will be held on a Saturday. Next year’s Bahrain and Saudi Arabia races will be held on Saturdays to accommodate Ramadan celebrations, while the Las Vegas Grand Prix will be on a Saturday night, local time – as indeed it will be this year.