Formula 1. Las Vegas Grand Prix. A weekend full of controversy and great racing, but as always, Verstappen’s intentions (REPORT) – PoBandie
Despite problems with organizing the race in Vegas, Charles Leclerc flew around the track throughout the weekend. During the race, he tried to fend off Red Bull’s attacks, but all the events and decisions of the race management worked out perfectly for Max Verstappen, who won the race, and Leclerc finished second. Sergio Perez lost a position on the last lap of the race for the second time in a row and eventually finished third.
The penultimate race of the season was to be held on a new track in Las Vegas. Many were against this location, and Max Verstappen himself said that the race was “99% show and 1% racing”. The events during the training added to the controversy. Drivers were greeted by a very slippery track. Carlos Sainz drove into a poorly secured manhole, which caused extensive damage to the car and the session had to be stopped after only 20 minutes. The second training session was delayed and extended and ended only at 4:30 local time. Fans were asked to leave the stands between sessions.
Additional controversy was added when Carlos Sainz was penalized ten places at the start for replacing a battery damaged by a well. Ferrari performed exceptionally well throughout the weekend, allowing the Spaniard to start from 12th place after finishing second in qualifying. Charles Leclerc, who dominated the entire weekend, took pole position once again this season, but this time with an advantage of over 0.3 seconds over third-placed Max Verstappen. The current world champion made a very malicious maneuver in the qualifying round. He attacked Esteban Ocon until the first corner, gaining nothing from it, only destroying the Frenchman’s run. It was surprising that the FIA, which has been very generous in handing out postponement penalties this season for disturbing qualifying, did not decide to react this time.
The three-time world champion showed at the start of the race that he intended to continue his “clean” driving style. In the first corner he pushed Charles Leclerc out of the track, and the race management decided to give him only a 5-second penalty, which the Dutchman responded by saying “send them your regards”. Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton also lost positions in the first corner. Then, in a very unusual way, the tire of Lando Norris’ car came off, causing him to be eliminated from the race and receive a safety car.
Just before the restart, Max Verstappen decided to test the brakes and almost caused a collision with the Monegasque. He showed that he could overtake cleanly and on the 16th lap he took the lead, which he maintained despite a poor pit stop. Then, during the attack on George Russell, this year’s world champion hit the Mercedes car, which caused damage to both cars. To his advantage, debris strewn across the track resulted in a second safety car deployment and the opportunity for repairs and the fitting of fresher tires than those on the Ferrari car.
This time, the judges decided to punish Russell for the incident on the track. After the restart, Max Verstappen had to move up from fifth place. At that time, from the very restart of the race, there was a fight between the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc. The Mexican managed to attack and took the lead on lap 33. Leclerc soon found himself sandwiched between the Austrian team’s cars.
After two laps, Charles Leclerc regained the pace and took the lead of the race with a beautiful dive. Then Max Verstappen also overtook his teammate. The Dutchman managed to take advantage of the tire advantage and for the third time in five laps we witnessed a leader change. Verstappen managed to escape, and Leclerc, already on worn tires, let Perez pass. Leclerc, however, did not give up and with a similar attack to the one on lap 33, he took second place at the last corner of the race and did not give it up on the final straight.
Charles Leclerc tried to show Verstappen that it was possible to win the race cleanly, but all events and FIA decisions went according to the Dutchman’s wishes. Despite many controversies, Las Vegas will definitely be one of the main candidates for the race of the season. These results guaranteed Perez a runner-up finish, giving Red Bull a double in the drivers’ championship for the first time in its history. Ferrari is only 4 points closer to Mercedes, which promises to be an interesting race in Abu Dhabi.
During the season finale next week, we will also have a fight for the final position at the back of the constructors’ and drivers’ grid, as well as a fight between Sainz, Alonso, Norris and Leclerc for fourth place in the drivers’ standings, with only 12 points separating these four. It is possible that, even though the main prizes have already been decided, the race at the Yas Marina track will be one of the most exciting in history.
Las Vegas Grand Prix results:
1. Max Verstappen
2. Charles Leclerc
3. Sergio Perez
4. Esteban Ocon
5. Lance Stroll
6. Carlos Sainz
7. Lewis Hamilton
8. George Russell
10. Oscar Piastri
12. Alexander Albon
13. Kevin Magnussen
14. Daniel Ricciardo
15. Guanyu Zhou
16. Logan Sargeant
17. Valtteri Bottas
Drivers’ classification after 21 of 22 races:
1. Max Verstappen – 549 points
2. Sergio Perez – 273 points.
3. Lewis Hamilton – 232 points.
4. Carlos Sainz – 200 points.
5. Fernando Alonso – 200 points.
6. Lando Norris – 195 points.
7. Charles Leclerc – 188 points.
8. George Russell – 160 points.
9. Oscar Piastri – 89 points.
10. Lance Stroll – 73 points.
11. Pierre Gasly – 62 points.
12. Esteban Ocon – 58 points.
13. Alexander Albon – 27 points.
14. Yuki Tsunoda – 13 points.
15. Valtteri Bottas – 10 points.
16. Nico Hulkenberg – 9 points.
17. Daniel Ricciardo – 6 points.
18. Guanyu Zhou – 6 points.
19. Kevin Magnussen – 3 points.
20. Liam Lawson – 2 points.
21. Logan Sargeant – 1 point.
1. Red Bull – 822 points.
2. Mercedes – 392 points.
3. Ferrari – 388 points.
4. McLaren – 284 points.
5. Aston Martin – 273 points.
6. Alpine – 120 points.
7. Williams – 28 points.
8. Alpha Tauri – 21 points.
9. Alfa Romeo – 16 points.
10. Haas – 12 points.