Max Verstappen emerged on top at the end of an action-packed 2023 Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, beating Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc and Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez to the chequered flag in a race punctuated by several incidents and Safety Car periods.
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Verstappen took the lead from Leclerc at the start of the race but was promptly handed a five-second time penalty for forcing his rival off the track and then got overtaken by the pole-sitter before serving it at the first round of pit stops.
Leclerc went longer into the race before changing tyres in an opening stint dominated by graining concerns, only for a Safety Car shortly afterwards to allow Verstappen and several other drivers to pit again under caution.
At the decisive restart, Leclerc initially controlled proceedings from Perez, who had benefitted from an early stop after an incident on the first lap, though ageing tyres meant he came under severe pressure.
Verstappen lit up the timesheets in the final laps to clear both his teammate and the leading Ferrari for a landmark win in the City of Lights, while Perez had followed him through to form a one-two, only to be re-passed by a determined Leclerc on the final lap.
Behind, a remarkable rise from Esteban Ocon netted fourth place for himself and Alpine, despite being narrowly beaten by Mercedes’ George Russell to the line. However, Russell had been carrying a five-second time penalty for a clash with Verstappen that brought out the aforementioned Safety Car.
Russell’s penalty also promoted the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll to fifth, while Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz and the sister Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton – who clashed at Turn 1 – also benefitted to take sixth and seventh positions.
Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri completed the points in their respective Aston Martin and McLaren machines, the Spaniard recovering from a Lap 1 spin and the Australian rookie the only papaya car to make it to the flag after teammate Lando Norris suffered a heavy crash early on.
Pierre Gasly had held points for the majority of the race after starting up in fourth, but a tumble down the order for the Alpine saw him cross the line in 11th, with Alex Albon suffering a similar fate in his Williams.
Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo had lonely races en route to P13 and P14 for Haas and AlphaTauri, with the Alfa Romeos of Zhou Gaunyu and Valtteri Bottas – the latter another caught out at Turn 1 – and Williams rookie Logan Sargeant among the final finishers.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg both pulled off the track in the closing stages amid apparent technical trouble, meaning they joined Norris on the list of retirements and watched the finish from the sidelines.
After a spectacular three days of action under the lights in Las Vegas, F1 will move swiftly on to the Yas Marina Circuit for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next weekend.
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director, Pirelli:
That was 90 action-packed and spectacular minutes of racing, which must have pleased all the spectators here in Las Vegas tonight and those watching on television or online. Overtaking, collisions, safety cars, mistakes and great feats of driving: the best of what this sport has to offer was all there condensed into 50 laps. It was the best possible advert for Formula 1 in the United States, a perfect combination of the racing side and the show, as exemplified in the prize-giving ceremony.
Coming onto the technical summary of the evening, we saw that our predictions prior to the race in terms of strategy were proved right: there wasn’t much difference between a one-stop and a two-stop. The Hard proved to be the most effective race tyre, even if it suffered a bit from graining. The Medium, chosen for the start by three-quarters of the field, behaved reasonably well, although it needed to be treated a bit more carefully, especially in the early stages. In fact, even those fighting hard for the win, like Leclerc, were able to extend the first stint almost to half distance.
The Soft, used only by Stroll and Tsunoda for the start, delivered a nice advantage off the line but was clearly less competitive over a long distance. Again today, we saw how track conditions had reset due to it being reopened to normal traffic overnight, which made cleaning up the graining on the tyre surface more difficult.
How the race was won from the tyre point of view:
For a start, the majority of drivers (15) went with the Medium, while Stroll and Tsunoda preferred the Soft, with Hamilton, Piastri and Zhou opting for the Hard. The first Safety Car saw several drivers take the opportunity to switch immediately to the C3 to try and move up the order, thus mixing things up with those who chose to stay out on track. The second Safety Car, following the collision between Russell and Verstappen, which left debris strewn on the track, then saw the advantage swing in favour of those who had pitted very early on and had not yet made a second stop, as it minimised time lost in pit lane.
As for tonight’s longest stints, Sargeant did 35 laps on a set of Hards, and Bottas did 26 on the Medium tyre also noteworthy, considering the fuel load at that point, was Leclerc’s 21 laps on the set of C4 he used from the start.
Next week, the final round of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship takes place in Abu Dhabi. The compounds chosen for this event are the C3 as P Zero White hard, the C4 as P Zero Yellow medium, and the C5 as P Zero Red soft. On the Tuesday after the race, the Yas Marina circuit hosts a day of testing in which all teams are taking part.
2023 Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix Race Results
|1.||1||Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Red Bull Racing||1:29:08.289||25||549|
|2.||16||Charles Leclerc||Monaco||Scuderia Ferrari||+2.070s||18||188|
|3.||11||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Red Bull Racing||+2.241s||15||273|
|4.||31||Esteban Ocon||France||Alpine F1 Team||+18.665s||12||58|
|5.||18||Lance Stroll||Canada||Aston Martin F1 Team||+20.067s||10||73|
|6.||55||Carlos Sainz||Spain||Scuderia Ferrari||+20.834s||8||200|
|7.||44||Lewis Hamilton||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+21.755s||6||232|
|8.||63||George Russell||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+23.091s||4||160|
|9.||14||Fernando Alonso||Spain||Aston Martin F1 Team||+25.964s||2||200|
|10.||81||Oscar Piastri||Australia||McLaren Racing||+29.496s||2||89|
|11.||10||Pierre Gasly||France||Alpine F1 Team||+34.270s||0||62|
|12.||45||Alexander Albon||Thailand||Williams Racing||+43.398s||0||27|
|13.||20||Kevin Magnussen||Denmark||Haas F1 Team||+44.825s||0||3|
|14.||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Australia||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+48.525s||0||6|
|15.||24||Zhou Guanyu||China||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+50.162s||0||6|
|16.||2||Logan Sargeant||USA||Williams Racing||+50.882s||0||1|
|17.||77||Valtteri Bottas||Finland||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+85.350s||0||10|
|18.||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Japan||Scuderia AlphaTauri||DNF||0||13|
|19.||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Germany||Haas F1 Team||DNF||0||9|
|20.||4||Lando Norris||Great Britain||Mclaren Racing||DNF||0||195|
2023 Constructor Standings
|1.||Red Bull Racing||822|
|2.||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||392|
|5.||Aston Martin F1 Team||273|
|6.||Alpine F1 Team||120|
|8.||Alfa Romeo Racing||21|
|10.||Haas F1 Team||12|
Here are the team-by-team highlights:
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Author: Vincent Kipp