In the build-up to the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix Max Verstappen criticized this F1 track for being too generic as is the case for modern F1 circuits. However, he proved the opposite by delivering an exciting race. Charles Leclerc secured pole position with Verstappen starting in second place, but I often say, the points are awarded on Sunday not Saturday unless it’s a sprint weekend, and Verstappen won the race claiming a full tally of points and a winners trophy. Nonetheless, he had to work hard to achieve victory, even though he had the best car on the grid.
Unfortunately, at the start, Verstappen opted to abandon his hard-earned image as a polished driver and allowed his less commendable traits to resurface. The idiot side of Verstappen emerged as he contested the lead with Leclerc in the lead-up to turn one. As they approached the turn 1 apex, Verstappen, chose not to fully turn the steering wheel, essentially going straight and compelling Leclerc to veer over the rumble strip and into the run-off area.
Verstappen and Leclerc arced side-by-side back onto the circuit, successfully maintaining their positions ahead of the pursuing pack. Verstappen took the lead, while Leclerc secured second place. Evidently, Verstappen had forced Leclerc off the circuit, leading to a justified five-second penalty. Why Verstappen brought stupid head Verstappen back is unknown considering the huge advantage he is afforded by having the best car on the grid. Anyway.
Three laps into the race, a safety car was deployed to clear the wreckage of Lando Norris’s McLaren, which mysteriously crashed into the wall. The race offered plenty of excitement throughout the field. Verstappen served his penalty during the first round of pitstops on lap 16, causing him to drop to 11th position. He now had to mount a charge through the field in order to secure victory.
By lap 25, Verstappen had climbed to 5th place, engaging in a wheel-to-wheel battle with George Russell’s Mercedes. The two cars made contact at the slow turn 12, with Verstappen boldly overtaking to secure 4th position. Meanwhile, as Verstappen mounted his charge, teammate Perez successfully battled past Leclerc’s Ferrari taking the lead on lap 32. However, Leclerc wasn’t willing to concede defeat and fought back with a gutsy overtake for the lead by lap 35.
As Perez’s race pace seemed to diminish, the team instructed him to let Verstappen pass on lap 36. By lap 37, Verstappen had regained the lead with a spirited overtake on Leclerc. As Verstappen surged ahead, taking command of the race, Leclerc slipped to third after running wide at turn 12 on lap 3. While it initially seemed like a Red Bull 1-2 finish, on the last lap (50), Leclerc valiantly reclaimed 2nd place, engaging in a late braking, wheel-to-wheel battle with Perez at turn 12.
It was a brilliant display of skill and determination from Leclerc, with the pair crossing the line separated by a mere hair’s width as the chequered flag waved. And so was that Max Verstappen secured victory at the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, which turned into an unexpected thriller.
2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix: Race Results
1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing 1:29:08.289
2 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +2.07
3 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +2.241
4 Esteban OCON Alpine +18.665
5 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +20.067
6 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +20.834
7 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +21.755
8 George RUSSELL Mercedes +23.091
9 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +25.964
10 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +29.496
11 Pierre GASLY Alpine +34.270
12 Alexander ALBON Williams +43.398
13 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +44.825
14 Daniel RICCIARDO AlphaTauri +48.52
15 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +50.162
16 Logan SARGEANT Williams +50.88
17 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +85.350
Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri – gearbox
Nico Hulkenberg Haas – mechanical
Lando Norris McLaren – crash