MOTORSPORT

Did the hype match the race in Vegas? In some ways, yes

The Las Vegas GP was arguably the most anticipated race on this year's calendar, with its share of ups and downs.

Jordan Schmidt
November 21, 2023
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Did the hype match the race in Vegas? In some ways, yes.

  

The Las Vegas GP has been brewing in our minds ever since its announcement. To the world, this seemed like an opportunity for another amazing street circuit, but local reception appeared mixed.

 

There has been a lot of controversy around this race, with a special emphasis on money. Formula One banked on the Las Vegas GP to be a big spending event, but from the videos and some articles circulating last week, it seems that the price of accommodation and access was simply too absurd, and patrons shared little interest in entertaining this. What we saw in response was a massive decrease in accommodation prices and spectator ticket prices.

 

Creating a track like this is no small feat, and the price of tickets bears testament to the cost of creating such a track, with naturally some profits added. And with that being said, the track remained imperfect, as we saw Carlos Sainz’s car being taken out by a loose manhole cover.

 

On top of that, the surface seemed to be rather unpredictable, with slippery track conditions just off the racing line. Surprisingly, though, the race over the weekend turned out to be one of the most thrilling events of the year, so as an enthusiast, I was satisfied.

 

Race day was highly anticipated, and considering it was on a Saturday, it already threw a spanner in the works. The grid lined up with the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in pole, Max Verstappen in second, George Russell in third, Pierre Gasly in fourth, and Alex Albon in fifth. It didn’t take long for the drama to commence, though.

 

The first corner showed us that Max wasn’t thrilled about starting behind the Ferrari and made a deep lunge, forcing Leclerc off the track. Behind the front runners, Alonso and Sainz spun out, causing light contact between many cars on the track. Fortunately, the incident was minor, and the green flags were out before the opening lap was complete.

 

Somehow, Verstappen and Leclerc managed to secure first and second, yet the drive down the inside by the champ wasn’t left unnoticed as he was slapped with a five-second penalty, which was served during the first set of stops.

 

It didn’t take long before the second incident occurred. This time around, the event was more serious. Lando Norris lost the rear end of his car and oversteered into the wall. After a long slide, the McLaren ended up in the barrier, with us all waiting for confirmation that Lando was okay. The impact was significant enough to force a safety car, again bunching the cars together.

 

It didn’t take long before the excitement returned, which was projected by Lewis, determined to fight up the leaderboard after a difficult start. As the first round of pit stops arrived on lap 16, Leclerc was determined to make the most of the upcoming penalty on Verstappen as the two battled it out before the fresh rubber was put on. Leclerc took first place and placed the Ferrari in a good position to push ahead of the pack.

 

A minor incident between Piastri and Hamilton saw both cars with a puncture, bruising their ability to work through the field and bringing on an early pit stop.

 

Sergio Perez continued to show serious determination to climb up the leaderboard with impressive overtaking against the likes of Ocon. This demonstrated the effectiveness of the harder compound tyres on this track.

 

As the drivers approached the halfway point, Verstappen found himself in another predicament with George. Although it was a faster and tighter section of the corner, Verstappen found the room to George’s surprise. Not seeing the Red Bull on his inside, the Merc turned in, causing light damage to both cars.

 

A slap on the wrist for George saw the leading Mercedes awarded a five-second penalty as the second bout of pit stops commenced.

 

Piastri continued to impress, overtaking Gasly and getting into the podium position. Perez, fueled by his impressive race pace, closed in on the leading Ferrari of Leclerc. Lap 32 provided Perez with the window of opportunity as he dove down on the inside of the Ferrari, clawing his way into first with Oscar getting his mirrors filled with the Red Bull of Verstappen.

 

Perez wasn’t out of the woods yet, as Leclerc shortly swapped positions with the Red Bull, placing the Ferrari in the top spot. Now, with two Red Bulls in tow, the pressure was on the leading Ferrari. Max, unamused at the Ferrari leadership, flew past both his teammate and the Ferrari on lap 37, determined to add another victory to his incredibly successful year.

 

Entering the closing stages of this highly anticipated race, the pressure was mounting on Leclerc, eventually getting to the driver as he overshot a corner, leaving a big window for Perez to shoot by. The closing stages saw an exciting midfield battle between Hamilton, Gasly, and Piastri, who each vied for a point-scoring position.

 

As the final laps approached, the leading Ferrari was determined to finish in front of at least one of the Red Bulls. Late on the brakes into the last overtaking opportunity of the last lap, Leclerc made a move up the inside of Perez, timing it perfectly and taking 2nd place from the Red Bull of Checo.

 

The final results were as follows:

 

1st. Max Verstappen

2nd. Charles Leclerc

3rd. Sergio Perez

4th. Esteban Ocon

5th. Lance Stroll

6th. Carlos Sainz

7th. Lewis Hamilton

8th. George Russell

9th. Fernando Alonso

10th. Oscar Piastri

11th. Pierre Gasly

12th. Alex Albon

13th. Kevin Magnussen

14th. Daniel Ricciardo

15th. Zhou Guanyu

16th. Logan Sargeant

17th. Valtteri Bottas

18th. Yuki Tsunoda

19th. Nico Hulkenberg

DNF. Lando Norris

 

The Las Vegas GP was, without a doubt, difficult to predict. It was filled with controversy and didn’t appear to be quite the success that Formula One was hoping for. But what we did get was a very exciting race—one that had us on the edge of our seats until the end. And to top it off, I quite liked the track layout. All in all, I won't mind seeing this event on the calendar in the future.

 

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