Thrilling Las Vegas Grand Prix Ends in Comeback Max Verstappen Win
In an eventful and historic Las Vegas Grand Prix, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen overcame multiple challenges to clinch his record-extending 18th victory of the season.
The Formula 1 race in Las Vegas, held on a spectacular Saturday night, saw heavy pre-race favorite Verstappen recover from an early time penalty and front-wing damage to clinch victory.
The exciting, high speed run around Las Vegas Boulevard and the famous Nevada casinos of the Las Vegas Strip, will be vindication for F1 bosses after an inauspicious start to the race weekend.
The run-up to the main event was marred by controversial comments from Verstappen and a serious practice incident that saw a manhole cover fly off the track and hit Carlos Sainz’ Ferrari.
The course itself was labeled “not that exciting” and “99% show, 1% sporting event” by champion driver Verstappen earlier in the week.
However, after a thrilling night in Las Vegas with multiple overtakes, controversial moments, and a comeback victory for himself, the Dutch driver somewhat changed his tune. So much so, in fact, he was caught on camera boisterously singing along to Viva Las Vegas during post-race celebrations.
Verstappen, the heavy race favorite and already confirmed Drivers Champion for 2023, started the race in second position, just behind Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari.
In the opening lap, he forced Leclerc off the track, for which he received a five-second penalty. Then Verstappen also collided with Mercedes’ George Russell, resulting in further front-wing damage. Despite these setbacks, the Dutchman displayed remarkable resilience and skill, steadily making his way up from the fifth position.
By lap 37, Verstappen had made his way past several competitors, including Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, and his teammate Sergio Perez, along with Leclerc, who had initially traded the lead with Perez.
From there Verstappen closed out the victory, with Perez and Leclerc battling out a tight race for second place. Their contest went spectacularly down to the wire, with Leclerc edging past Perez’s Honda on the final lap.
The race concluded with Verstappen first, Leclerc second, and Perez third, narrowly missing out on Red Bull’s seventh one-two finish of the season.
Esteban Ocon took fourth place for Alpine, and Lance Stroll took fifth for Aston Martin.
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A Retrospective Look
Initially critical of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, Verstappen’s tone changed following his victory. He admitted the race’s success, and said he was already looking forward to a return.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” he said. “I hope they enjoyed it. We definitely did. I am already excited to come back here next year.”
Verstappen’s triumph in Las Vegas completed a sweep of three U.S. wins in 2023, having also dominated in Miami and Austin.
Now that the dust has settled on the track, the overall mood is one of sporting success.
Despite the criticism and logistical challenges, most commentators have now agreed the race proved to be a thrilling addition to the Formula 1 calendar. Potentially even one of the best races of the year.
Although, as Verstappen had publicly pointed out, it risked being overshadowed by the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, Formula 1 ultimately delivered a high-octane nighttime street race filled with lead changes and strategic battles that will be remembered for years to come.
There are lessons to be learned, particularly for the race organizers now facing lawsuits over disruption to the practice sessions, which could have easily been avoided.
However, once the checkered flag waved and the actual race began, the sport of F1 and the city of Las Vegas was showcased in a spectacular way that did live up to the hype.
The Nevada retail sportsbooks of the Las Vegas Strip will also be quite happy with the way the weekend played out. A heavy favorite won, but an exciting race that didn’t disappoint is about the best result the sportsbooks could have hoped for amidst a record-breaking weekend of F1 betting.