Max Verstappen out dueled his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc to win the 2023 Las Vegas GP.
–by Mark Cipolloni–
The race was exciting from the beginning to the end and the 105,000 fans in attendance, plus the thousands watching from balconies, cheered wildly. The track, criticized early in the weekend, turned out to produce fantastic racing up and down the field, making it the best street circuit on the F1 calendar.
The most hyped F1 race in history delivered on all levels.
This win was not easy at all for Verstappen, who had to serve a 5-second penalty, came from 8th place after his pitstop and drove his damaged Red Bull Honda (after a collision with George Russell) past Perez and Leclerc to the lead with 12 laps to go.
From there he broke the DRS tow that Leclerc had on him and then edged away to a 2-second win, proving once again why he is the best driver in the world.
Sergio Perez also got past the Ferrari with six laps to go for 2nd, but Leclerc stayed within DRS range as the laps counted down, and he repassed the Mexican for 2nd on the final lap.
Perez came home a close 2nd to lock up 2nd in the championship over Lewis Hamilton.
The win was Verstappen’s record 18th win of the season and his 53rd career win, tying him with Sebastian Vettel for 3rd all-time. The win was Verstappen’s 6th straight win in America.
“It was a tough one. I tried to go for it at the start, but I ran out of grip,” said Verstappen.
“That put us on the back foot, earned us the penalty, I had to pass quite a lot of cars. Already there was quite a lot going on.
“The DRS was very powerful, even when you took the lead, the guy behind could come back at you. It’s never ideal [to carry damage] but luckily we could still win the race.”
Verstappen ends by saying it was “a lot of fun down there.” And then he says he is “excited to come back here next year,” which is good to hear.
“What a race,”said an ecstatic Leclerc after his last lap pass for 2nd!
“Honestly, I enjoyed it so much. I’m disappointed to be second, but it’s the best we could do. We were really strong overall, we got a bit unlucky with the Safety Car,” said Leclerc who actually passed Verstappen for the lead before the first round of pitstops. The pole sitting Ferrari was rapid.
“We went for track position and keeping that first place. But second place with a lot of fight – I’ll take it. I’m so happy the weekend ended that way, there was no better race for a first race in Vegas.”
“It was a really difficult race with a lot of damage initially, we broke the front wing so went to the back of the grid,” said Perez talking about the Turn 1 melee and his early pitstop.
“We had strong pace in that first stint, and with the Safety Car, that brought us into the race. I overtook Charles, but I couldn’t pull away – I had too much rear wing so I couldn’t pull away. It was quite difficult with the gusts of wind, rear locking and then in the end with Charles, I wasn’t expecting him, he was 0.7 back – and then in the braking zone, he was there, so well done to him and to Max.”
Esteban Ocon drove hard to get 4th place for Alpine while Lance Stroll one of the best races of his career to round out the top-5 for Aston Martin.
Lewis Hamilton recovered from an early puncture after touching wheels with Oscar Piastri to finish a strong 7th
The race featured two safety car periods, one for a big crash by Lando Norris at the end of the long back straight where he appeared to lose control of his McLaren under braking.
Lando with one of the biggest crashes of the year in Las Vegas 😳 pic.twitter.com/WhqaYu0cc0
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) November 19, 2023
The 2nd was for debris from Verstappen’s and Russell’s car when Russell cut down on Verstappen battling for position for which Russell received a 5-second penalty.
Ferrari out-scored Mercedes with both cars and as such, have closed the gap to the Silver Arrows for second to just four points, with it all to play for heading into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
An incredible 18 wins for him this year, in a season that will go down in history as one of the most dominant, if not the most. The Dutchman and that RB19 are a pairing that are just unstoppable – and you wouldn’t bet against victory number 19 next week in Abu Dhabi.
The fireworks went off, as the clocks passed midnight and Sunday dawned in the Sin City. Verstappen has won the first Las Vegas Grand Prix around this street track, a hard-fought victory for the three-time world champion. He heads to Abu Dhabi looking to round off his season and his championship in style, with just one race left this year.
2023 Las Vegas GP Results – 50 Laps
|1||Max Verstappen||NED||Oracle Red Bull Racing||+0.000s||50||25|
|2||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||+2.070s||50||18|
|3||Sergio Perez||MEX||Oracle Red Bull Racing||+2.241s||50||15|
|4||Esteban Ocon||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||+18.665s||50||12|
|5||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant||+20.067s||50||10|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||+20.834s||50||8|
|7||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||+21.755s||50||6|
|8||George Russell||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||+23.091s||50||4|
|9||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant||+25.964s||50||2|
|10||Oscar Piastri||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||+29.496s||50||2|
|11||Pierre Gasly||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||+34.270s||50||0|
|12||Alex Albon||THA||Williams Racing||+43.398s||50||0|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||MoneyGram Haas F1 Team||+44.825s||50||0|
|14||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+48.525s||50||0|
|15||Zhou Guanyu||CHN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake||+50.162s||50||0|
|16||Logan Sargeant||USA||Williams Racing||+50.882s||50||0|
|17||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake||+85.350s||50||0|
|18||Yuki Tsunoda||JPN||Scuderia AlphaTauri||DNF||46||0|
|19||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||MoneyGram Haas F1 Team||DNF||45||0|
|20||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||DNF||2||0|
* Provisional results. Note – Piastri scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Russell received a five-second time penalty for causing a collision.