Las Vegas Grand Prix: Review

Published on 19 November 2023 at 16:00

Fans came into the Las Vegas Grand Prix not knowing what could happen - due to it having no races completed prior. With low temperatures and new asphalt, drivers had to be extra careful for the low grip levels.


Charles Leclerc started the race on pole position in a mixed up grid after an entertaining qualifying session. Both Williams cars found themselves inside the top six with Max Verstappen starting second - he initially qualified third, but gained a place due to Carlos Sainz's 10-place grid penalty.


Prior to the race, there had been many issues with the track. During FP1, Sainz's Ferrari SF-23 went over a manhole cover - completely destroying his SF-23's chassis and damaging his energy stores, resulting in the Spaniard being forced to take a 10-place gird penalty.


Verstappen wins once again... but was made to fight


Verstappen won his 18th race of the season, but not in comfortable style. The win in Las Vegas did equal him with Sebastian Vettel for the amount of race wins in Formula 1 at an impressive 53.


The three-time world champion started the race from second and dived down the inside of Leclerc going into Turn One. However, the lack of grip resulted in the Dutchman going off track - also forcing the Monegasque off track. 


The manoeuvre resulted in the Red Bull driver receiving a five-second time penalty for forcing another driver off the track, which he would serve during his pit stop.


However, despite many thinking Verstappen would just pull away from Leclerc, the Monegasque actually overtook the Dutchman on track - just before the reigning world champion went into the pits.


It looked as though Leclerc clearly had the pace to win the race. However, safety cars would diminish his chances. The second safety car resulted in both Red Bull drivers pitting, having fresher tyres on the restart.


Sergio Perez managed to get past the Ferrari driver. However, Leclerc was able to get the place back off the Mexican. Despite his best efforts, Verstappen was too quick for the Monegasque on the last stint and would go on to win the race.


Despite not winning the race, Leclerc was able to recover from his mistake and finish second - overtaking Perez on the last lap.


Is there a safety issue?


A scary moment happened on lap three of the race as McLaren driver Lando Norris lost the rear of his MCL60, spinning and crashing heavily into the wall.


At first, many though the Briton just lost the rear of the car due to the low grip levels. However, team principal Andrea Stella revealed that there was a bump in the middle of the track, causing the 24-year-old to crash out of the race.


McLaren have called for it to be solved for next year's race. However, no other driver had issues at the flat-out Turn 11 with the bump. Therefore, it could have been a mixture of the bump and Norris misjudging the amount of grip he had.


What's the verdict on Vegas?


Many unknowns were present going into this weekend. However, after the race, I think it is safe to say that it was one of the best races of the season.


Lots of overtakes took place due to the long DRS zones and there were constant battles all throughout the grid for the entire race, keeping the fans on the edge of their seats.


Even Verstappen had different opinions about Vegas after winning the race. Before, he was constantly complaining about the track not being great and even labelling it as 'National League' standard - when comparing it to Monaco, which he described as 'Champions league' standard.


However, after the race, the Dutchman was ecstatic - even shouting "Viva Las Vegas" on the team radio after winning the race. Many other drivers enjoyed it, including Lewis Hamilton despite the Mercedes driver having a difficult race.


Personally, I really enjoyed the race as there was constant action throughout the entire race. The DRS zones really helped the pack stay close and have a lot more overtakes. What did you think of the race?


Nathan Hartley

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