Dutchman Max Verstappen, the critic of the show surrounding Formula 1’s return to Las Vegas, won for the 18th time of the season on Saturday at the end of an upheaval-filled Grand Prix.
“Viva Las Vegas,” a grumpy Verstappen ended up humming – Elvis Presley-style – on his radio, after criticizing the new track and its backstage this week, marked by hiccups on Thursday night during the first tests.
In Vegas, the Red Bull driver, already secured the third world championship title, achieved his 53rd F1 GP victory, equaling the performance of the German Sebastian Vettel.
In the city of all vices, the Dutchman showed all his talent in this area to dominate Monegasque pole-sitter Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who secured 2nd place in the world championship before the last race of the season, next. week in Abu Dhabi. A performance that guarantees Red Bull a double victory at the head of the championship, the first in its history.
From the start, Verstappen, second, dived into the first corner, braking late to overtake Leclerc, pushing him off the track, a maneuver later deemed illegal by the marshals and handed him a 5-second time penalty, served when he made his first pit stop.
“I tried my luck at the start (…), we had a good race today,” said Verstappen at the end.
In search of his first win of the season, Leclerc, who had retaken the lead on lap 16 (of 50), definitively conceded to the Dutchman on lap 37, while the lead changes followed in a wonderful three-way with Perez.
The Mexican got off to a very poor start by pitting on the first lap, but managed to make a great comeback with some success and the timely arrival of the safety car on lap 25. However, he overtook him on the last lap with a superb overtaking of Leclerc in the corner, which left Red Bull without a duo.
“What a race!” I had a lot of fun,” Monegasque said. “Obviously I’m disappointed to only finish second, but it’s the best we could do.”
Celebrated with great fanfare, F1’s return to Las Vegas 41 years after two races held in the Caesars Palace parking lot in 1981 and 1982 came under fire and began with an awkward day on Thursday for the start of some very big testing. disrupted through the… manhole cover.
Deprived of much of Thursday’s testing, around 35,000 spectators have also launched legal proceedings against GP organisers.
Beckham, Zlatan, Rihanna… –
Liberty Media, the company that owns F1, invested heavily in this Grand Prix, which required months of work and affected traffic on the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Max Verstappen wasn’t too excited about the showbiz-focused event – “they don’t understand what we do on the track” – nor about the “uninteresting” circuit, which he says is the equivalent of the “National League (5th English Division)” compared to the “Champions League”. city trails in Monaco.
“For all those who were so negative about this weekend, saying it was just a spectacle etc. – I think Vegas proved them wrong,” Lewis Hamilton retorted in front of his Mercedes teammate on Sunday, 7 , by George Russell.
Among the stars present in Vegas, the cameras managed to capture Rihanna, soccer players David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimović, former American skier Lindsey Vonn, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and even Justin Bieber who waved the checkerboard flag.
“Everyone criticized Las Vegas, but in the end it was a really good race,” said Ferrari boss Frédéric Vasseur, as the Italians moved back to four points behind Mercedes in second place in the constructors’ standings.
British Lando Norris (McLaren) was the victim of a spectacular crash in the fourth lap, but managed to leave the track.