Motorsport: Kiwi Liam Lawson crashes out as Max Verstappen clinches third straight F1 title at Qatar sprint race

Red Bull's Max Verstappen has secured his third Formula One world championship, after teammate and sole title rival Sergio Perez crashed out of a Qatar Grand Prix sprint.

Mexican Perez needed to finish in the top three places to keep the title open for another day, with the main grand prix on Sunday, but started eighth and dropped to 11th, before tangling with Alpine's Esteban Ocon and Haas's Nico Hulkenberg on lap 11.

The Red Bull was then stuck in the gravel, with Perez stepping out.

That meant Verstappen, who was running in third place at the time and went on to finish second, 1.8 seconds behind McLaren's Oscar Piastri, was the champion for the third year in a row, while still racing.

Liam Lawson goes off the track.
Liam Lawson goes off the track. Photo credit: Getty Images

Racing in his final weekend in the AlphaTauri car, before Aussie Daniel Ricciardo returns from injury, Kiwi Liam Lawson went out of contention, after making contact with gravel and heading off the track to finish 14th. He'll start 18th on the grid in the feature race.

"Max, you are a three times world champion," said team boss Christian Horner over the radio, as he crossed the finish-line.

"That's unbelievable. It's been an incredible year for you."

Verstappen, who has won 13 of 16 Grands Prix so far, including 10 in a row, replied: "Yeah, unbelievable guys.

"I don't know what to say. Thank you for providing me with such a car.

"It's been a lot of fun this year."

At 26, the Dutch driver also becomes the second-youngest triple world champion, after now-retired German Sebastian Vettel, who secured the third of his four crowns with Red Bull in 2012 at the age of 25.

Piastri's Sunday success ended Red Bull's domination of the sprints this season.

The Australian rookie's teammate Lando Norris finished third, with Mercedes' George Russell fourth and teammate Lewis Hamilton fifth, after starting 12th and cashing in on the collisions ahead of him.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were sixth and seventh, with Williams' Alex Albon taking the final point of the evening.

Verstappen will start Monday's main Grand Prix at Lusail on pole position.