RACE REPORT | F1 Las Vegas 2023

At 26 years old, Verstappen secured his sixth consecutive victory, marking his 16th win in the last 17 races. Starting from second position, he triumphed in the penultimate race of the season. Pérez made a comeback to the podium after six races.

Las Vegas welcomed back the F1 championship after a 41-year hiatus. The race commenced at 10 p.m. local time on Saturday, a departure from the traditional Sunday start seen for the first time since the 1985 South African Grand Prix. The event attracted a star-studded audience from the realms of sports and entertainment, featuring luminaries like David Beckham, Usain Bolt, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Brad Pitt, Kylie Minogue, and Rihanna.

Despite Leclerc clinching the pole position, his lead was short-lived. Verstappen, in a fierce tussle at the start, pushed the Ferrari driver off the track, claiming the lead. However, the Dutchman incurred a five-second penalty for the move. Troubles ensued at the back of the pack with multiple collisions. Fernando Alonso skidded, Pérez had to change his wing, and Carlos Sainz faced issues. Although Sainz initially qualified second, a battery change after practice and subsequent penalty forced him to start ten places lower. Further incidents during the race pushed him down the grid, and he faced overheating issues, ultimately finishing sixth.

The race saw drama on lap three as Lando Norris of McLaren crashed, prompting the safety car’s deployment. Verstappen held onto his lead after the restart, but Leclerc remained in close pursuit. By lap 16, Verstappen encountered tyre problems, allowing Leclerc to overtake. Verstappen served his penalty in the pits, dropping to 11th place. He engaged in a duel with George Russell on lap 25, resulting in a collision and another safety car intervention. Russell received a five-second penalty this time. Verstappen re-entered the race in fifth after changing tyres, while Leclerc maintained his position at the front. Pérez, who led before the incident, benefited from the safety car, securing second place upon his return from the pits and launching an attack on Leclerc on lap 33. However, Leclerc retaliated two laps later, allowing Verstappen to pass Pérez.

With twelve laps remaining, Verstappen surpassed Leclerc, who later complicated the battle for second by going off-track on lap 44, allowing Pérez to reclaim his position. Yet, Leclerc closed the gap and eventually passed Pérez in a duel on the final lap. It marked Pérez’s second consecutive disappointment, following his loss to Alonso in the battle for third place in the previous Sao Paulo Grand Prix on the last lap. The World Championship is set to conclude next week with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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