The Las Vegas Grand Prix delivered a frenetic race, but once again it was the same old story as Max Verstappen took another victory.
Verstappen was handed a five-second penalty for pushing Charles Leclerc into the first corner, but recovered to win a record 18th race of the season and complete a sweep of all three American races.
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The three-time world champion stuck out his elbows throughout the race, colliding with George Russell to trigger a virtual safety car that played into his hands and made Leclerc an easy target.
In a few wild laps, the lead changed hands several times as Sergio Perez took the lead before Leclerc passed him again, only for Verstappen to pass them both and take the lead 10 laps from the arrival.
Then on the last lap, Leclerc made a sensational overtake on Perez to snatch second place from the Mexican. This is the second race in a row that Perez has been passed on the final lap.
Australian rookie Oscar Piastri started 18th after a poor qualifying, but produced an absolutely blind drive while flying over the Las Vegas Strip.
With numerous overtakes, Piastri reached third place, but a skirmish with Lewis Hamilton and a mandatory pit stop to change tires forced him to settle for 10th place and the fastest lap of the race.
Daniel Ricciardo finished 14th as his AlphaTauri struggled to find pace.
F1 world praises Vegas race
F1 organizers will be relieved that the race itself was one of the best of the season after organizational problems affected the entire weekend and the build-up to the grand prix.
Las Vegas lit up showbiz and it continued after the race when Verstappen, Leclerc and Perez hopped into the backseat of a vintage car to drive to the podium presentation.
The traditional recovery room was removed for this race, but the sight of Verstappen sandwiched between Leclerc and Perez was a sight to behold.
Las Vegas Grand Prix results (top 10)
1) Max Verstappen
2) Sergio Pérez, Red Bull
3) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
4) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
5) George Russell, Mercedes
6) Lance Walk, Aston Martin
7) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
8) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
9) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
10) Oscar Piastri, McLaren
6:08 p.m. – Piastri, in flight, Verstappen takes the lead in a wild battle
Oscar Piastri has a blinder and is in fourth place, but he will have to stop again for another set of tires.
The virtual safety car played into Verstappen’s hands and canceled out the advantage of Leclerc, who is a bit of an easy target against the Red Bulls behind him.
In a few wild laps, Perez took the lead before Leclerc passed him again, only for Verstappen to pass them both and take the lead with 10 laps to go.
5:58 p.m. – Verstappen in another skirmish
Verstappen has an eventful race – this time he collides with the Mercedes of George Russell while attempting an ambitious overtake.
Debris flew from Verstappen’s Red Bull, but Russell was given a five-second penalty, apparently because he did not see Verstappen coming down the inside.
A virtual safety car was triggered due to debris on the track.
5:44 p.m. – Leclerc takes the lead
Charles Leclerc took the lead before halfway, passing Verstappen on a long straight down the Las Vegas Strip.
It is now Leclerc’s race to lose as he increases his lead and Verstappen has stopped to serve his five-second penalty.
Meanwhile, Oscar Piastri was flying up to sixth place before he and Lewis Hamilton crossed paths.
The incident punctured Hamilton’s tire and damaged the floor of Piastri’s McLaren.
5:20 p.m. – Norris absent in a nasty accident
Lando Norris crashed on lap 4 after losing control of his McLaren and hitting the wall.
Fortunately, Norris is fine. His accident triggered a safety car.
Australian rookie Oscar Piastri moved up to eighth place, making a superb overtake on Yuki Tsunoda as soon as the race resumed.
5:12 p.m. – Leclerc fumes against Verstappen
The race is underway and Max Verstappen made a great start off the line and caught Leclerc, but pushed the Ferrari off the track to take the lead.
Leclerc was furious on team radio and wanted Verstappen to give the place back.
“We need to tackle this problem now,” he said.
“It’s a joke if he gets the job.” He wasn’t in front at the top and he pushed me wide. He must give up his position.
Martin Brundle said on Sky Sports upon departure: “It’s chaos.”
Verstappen received a five-second penalty, which he will have to serve in the pits or at the end of the race.
Verstappen joked on team radio: “Yeah, it’s good. Send them my regards.
The Red Bull driver can consider himself lucky to have been able to maintain the lead.
Brundle said: “In some ways I think that position should be returned given that track position could control the race. I’m not sure that’s a harsh enough penalty.
David Croft added: “It’s a penalty that could amount to absolutely nothing. I just don’t think it’s a penalty.
4:15 p.m. – Pilot presentations are in the spotlight in America
Las Vegas certainly brought some glitz and glamor this weekend and that continued with the pre-race driver presentations.
UFC announcer Bruce Buffer turned showbiz up to 11 by introducing the drivers in his trademark style after completing a pre-race parade in vintage cars.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez looked slightly perplexed as Buffer finished his screaming introduction while staring at the Mexican.
3:50 p.m. – Disaster strikes again with malicious leak
Just when we thought the Vegas fiascos were over, disaster struck again before the race.
The car Oscar Piastri was in during the drivers’ parade before the race broke down, leaking oil fluid onto the track at the point on the main straight where pole sitter Charles Leclerc will start his race.
It is worth noting that Leclerc has won 23 pole positions in his career but has a low conversion rate, winning five races in total.
“It’s going to be a loss of grip, it’s very regrettable. I don’t know what they’re going to be able to do about it,” Danica Patrick said on Sky Sports.
“It’s on the dirty side of the grid which was always going to be slippery, so it’s very bad news for Verstappen and everyone behind him,” added Martin Brundle.
2:15 p.m. – “Unfiltered” Verstappen censored by surprise
Max Verstappen was not shy about expressing his disdain for this weekend’s Las Vegas Grand Prix, saying he felt like a “clown” during the opening ceremony and calling the race of “99% spectacle and 1% sporting event”.
“Of course I understand that the fans need something to do on the track, but it is more important that we make them understand what we do in this sport,” he said.
“I like Vegas, but not for driving an F1 car; go out, turn everything red, whatever. But the emotion and passion are not compared to some old-school songs.
The three-time world champion said he much preferred traditional circuits like Spa in Belgium and Monza in Italy which “have a lot of emotion and passion”.
Speaking about the Las Vegas Grand Prix, he joked: “Monaco is like the Champions League and here it’s the National League. »
Told that fans who were sent home before the second practice session were offered $200 merchandise vouchers as compensation, Verstappen said: “If I was a fan, I would tear the whole thing apart. place.”
The post-race recovery room is a recent innovation: the top three drivers sit in a room and watch highlights of the race before taking the podium.
It may be interesting to watch as drivers analyze the race, but fans won’t be able to enjoy the recovery room after it was announced it was being removed from the official post-race procedure.
The FIA race document states: “Once the interviews are completed, the drivers will be immediately escorted back to the grid, where the podium is located. There is no recovery room at this event.
2:00 p.m. – Sainz still furious after the penalty
Carlos Sainz will start 12th after receiving a very severe 10-place grid penalty for driving over a loose manhole that destroyed the underside of his Ferrari during practice.
Ferrari dominated qualifying and would have had a low front lock if not for the penalty. But Sainz will have his work cut out to get on the podium.
“I’m sad, frustrated, disappointed,” he said after qualifying.
I’m not going to lie. I’m always in a really bad mood but I try not to show it too much. But it’s like that.
“At the same time, it’s not very surprised, because sometimes this sport can be… no one can understand it.”
“Tomorrow I will pay one of the most unjust penalties I have ever seen.”