Max Verstappen recovered from an early time penalty and front wing damage to pass Charles Leclerc and win the first Las Vegas Grand Prix.Las Vegas Strip Circuit, Verstappen chased down the Ferrari driver and overtook him with 13 laps remaining to win. Leclerc beat Sergio Perez to second place after overtaking him on the final lap.
Prior to the start of the race, nearly the entire field lined up on the grid on medium tyres, with tenth-placed Lewis Hamilton the only driver in the top 16 starters to opt to start on hard tyres.
When the lights went out, pole winner Charles Leclerc found Max Verstappen alongside him on the run into turn one. The pair both ran wide into the first corner, with Verstappen taking the lead despite both cars running off track. Further back, Fernando Alonso appeared to spin by himself, while Carlos Sainz Jnr also spun after hitting Lewis Hamilton into the first corner.
The Virtual Safety Car was deployed as the stewards announced that the first corner was under investigation. When the race resumed at the start of lap three, Lando Norris suddenly lost control of his car in turn 11, crashing heavily into the barriers at the following corner. The full Safety Car was deployed, with Norris able to climb out of the car unassisted.
The race resumed at the start of lap seven, with Verstappen leading from Leclerc, George Russell in third and Pierre Gasly in fourth. Verstappen pulled out a lead of almost two seconds on the first green flag lap. However, the stewards announced that Verstappen would be handed a five second time penalty for forcing Leclerc off the track at the start.
Leclerc kept with the leader who began to struggle with his tyres. Eventually, Leclerc caught and overtook the Red Bull down the straight to take the lead down the Strip, with Verstappen immediately pitting for hard tyres and to serve his penalty. Behind, Hamilton clashed with Oscar Piastri into turn 14, with both drivers suffering punctures as a result.
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Leclerc eventually pitted for hard tyres at the end of lap 21, emerging in third, comfortably ahead of Verstappen in seventh and behind Perez and Lance Stroll, who had both pitted under the early Virtual Safety Car for hards.
Verstappen made his way through the cars ahead until attempting to pass Russell into turn 12. The pair collided, causing debris to be jettisoned across the circuit. The Safety Car was deployed, with Perez pitting from the lead and allowing Leclerc back into the lead. Verstappen also pitted with minor front wing damage.
The Safety Car allowed Perez to leap up into second place and he followed Leclerc at the restart with Gasly sitting third and Piastri in fourth. Leclerc held the lead at the restart as Piastri muscled by Gasly to take third place. When DRS was activated, Perez was well within a second of the leader as, behind Verstappen used his rear wing flap to get by Gasly for fifth.
On lap 32, Perez had a slipstream down the Strip and passed the Ferrari into turn 14 to move up to the lead of the race for the first time. However, Leclerc stuck with the new leader and eventually reclaimed the lead with a dive down the inside into turn 14. A lap later, Verstappen moved ahead of his team mate and then managed to slipstream past Leclerc along the Strip to take back the lead of the race.
Verstappen managed to keep the Ferrari outside of the one second he would need for DRS, while Perez was able to stay within a second of Leclerc ahead. However, a lock-up into turn 12 on lap 43 by Leclerc allowed Perez through into second place.
Verstappen remained out in the lead until the final lap, when he was asked to back off and offer a tow to Perez behind, who was trying to hold off Leclerc. While Verstappen obliged, Leclerc picked up a slipstream down the Strip and dived to the inside into turn 14 for the final time, snatching second back from Perez.
At the chequered flag, Verstappen took victory with Leclerc securing second by a tenth of a second. Esteban Ocon took fourth place, 16 seconds behind the podium finishers, with Russell crossing the line in fifth but demoted to eighth after he was handed a five second penalty for the clash with Verstappen.
That promoted Stroll up to fifth ahead of Sainz in sixth and Hamilton in seventh, with Alonso and Piastri completing the top ten.
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2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix
- Tost blames track inspection oversight for Sainz’s damage in Las Vegas
- Hard to repeat “rare” combination of factors behind Vegas shunt – Norris
- Las Vegas Grand Prix “got a lot more hate than it deserved” – Sargeant
- Williams’ “incredible” Vegas qualifying made us “poor” in race – Vowles
- Piastri is first rookie to take two fastest laps in a season since Hamilton