F1 Grand Prix Las Vegas 2023 | Report
From November 17th to 19th, the Las Vegas Grand Prix took place at the Las Vegas Street Circuit.
Report on the Qualifying of the Las Vegas GP 2023
'Controversy' for a Clean Lap and Big Surprises
Due to the low track temperature, conditions were extremely challenging to push the limits during the qualifying session of the Las Vegas GP 2023. The so-called 'track evolution' played a significant role, meaning the track became faster as time progressed. This resulted in every driver wanting to initiate their lap as late as possible, leading to a lot of jostling and tussling for a 'clean' lap.
An incident occurred between Esteban Ocon and Max Verstappen in Q1 just before the end of the session. Both drivers wanted to start their lap on the straight, closely following each other and refusing to give space for a clean lap. The Frenchman came out ahead of the Dutchman towards turn one, but Verstappen braked late and positioned his car on the inside of Ocon. This prevented him from turning in, costing him dearly. As a result, Esteban missed out on Q2 by +0.151 seconds, and there was a heated exchange over the team radio. To everyone's surprise, both McLarens also failed to make it to Q2! It's been a long time since this last happened. Additionally, Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu did not advance to the next stage of qualifying.
Narrow Margins and Eight Different Teams in Q3
Q2 also brought significant surprises. Both Williams drivers advanced to Q3, a feat achieved only once before, during the Dutch Grand Prix. Powerhouses Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton missed out on Q3 by just half a tenth. Nico Hulkenberg, Lance Stroll, and Daniel Ricciardo were also eliminated.
The Ferrari drivers and Max Verstappen were favorites for the pole position, and it was suspenseful throughout the session. Ultimately, the Dutchman couldn't secure pole position, making it a battle between the Ferrari teammates. With a difference of only +0.044 seconds, Charles Leclerc grabbed the pole position. George Russell narrowly missed the third position compared to Max Verstappen by just +0.008 seconds. Additionally, the Williams drivers qualified impressively in sixth (Albon) and seventh (Sargeant), which is crucial for their battle for the seventh place in the Constructors' Championship.
Check out the full results of the Las Vegas GP qualifying
Las Vegas Grand Prix 2023 report
A Chaotic Start and Significant Damage
The start of the Las Vegas 2023 Grand Prix promised a spectacle, and it certainly lived up to expectations. Max Verstappen had a better start than Charles Leclerc, allowing him to position his car on the inside of the Monegasque towards turn one. However, both drivers went off the track as the Dutchman didn't leave space for Leclerc and turned in very late. Verstappen later received a five-second penalty for this incident.
But that wasn't all. Fernando Alonso spun on his own. Valtteri Bottas tried to avoid the Spaniard but got a tap from behind by Sergio Perez, sending him straight into Alonso. Due to this contact, the Mexican lost a portion of his front wing, prompting all three drivers to pit a lap later due to the damage to their cars. Carlos Sainz couldn't decelerate his car well enough for turn one, causing his right front wheel to collide with Lewis Hamilton's left rear wheel. This resulted in a spin for Sainz, causing him to lose several positions.
A substantial crash and a five-second penalty
In lap three, things went wrong for Lando Norris. He lost the back end of his car and collided with the wall towards turn twelve. Later, he explained that the plank under the car hit the asphalt, causing him to lose control. The Briton was taken to the medical center for a medical check, where he fortunately turned out to be okay.
As the race progressed, the Alpine, Mercedes, and Oscar Piastri seemed to have an excellent race pace. This allowed them to easily overtake both Williams drivers, who quickly dropped down the standings. In turn sixteen, Charles Leclerc overtook the leader, Max Verstappen, prompting the Dutchman to dive into the pit lane for his first stop. Here, he served his five-second penalty, allowing Leclerc to build a comfortable lead.
In lap seventeen, Lewis Hamilton and Oscar Piastri made contact, resulting in damage for both drivers. Their race pace plummeted, forcing both to lose many positions and necessitate a pit stop. Sergio Perez executed a brilliant comeback and took the second position in turn eighteen. This made Max Verstappen aware that he needed to quickly overtake his rivals to avoid falling too far behind his teammate and Charles Leclerc.
The declaration of the safety car after significant contact
In lap 25, there was contact between George Russell and the Dutchman, causing substantial damage. Verstappen's right front wheel hit the side pod of the Briton. George Russell received a five-second penalty because, according to the FIA, he turned in too early while the Dutchman was alongside him. Despite the damage, Verstappen's front wing didn't need replacement as the structure remained intact, according to the team. Due to the debris on the track, a safety car was deployed. This worked out exceptionally well for Sergio Perez, who hadn't made a pit stop yet, increasing his chances of winning. Many drivers took advantage of this 'free' pit stop.
In lap 32, Sergio Perez took the lead from Charles Leclerc with a splendid overtaking move on the inside while braking for turn fourteen. Shortly after, Verstappen took the third position from Oscar Piastri. Additionally, Esteban Ocon had a strong race, securing the fifth position in lap 34, surpassing his teammate. Thanks to the potent DRS, Charles Leclerc regained the lead from Sergio Perez in turn 35. Meanwhile, Verstappen was closing in, promising an exciting climax.
An intense battle for P2 and a surprising outcome
One lap later, Verstappen overtook his teammate, and then, a lap later, he passed Charles Leclerc, reclaiming the lead. In the midfield, there was a fierce battle for points. George Russell knew he had to make up for lost time due to his five-second penalty, resulting in impressive overtaking maneuvers. In lap 43, Sergio Perez overtook the Monegasque due to a braking mistake, causing wheel lock-up. However, Leclerc closely followed the Mexican in the final laps, making it extremely suspenseful who would come out on top for the second position. In the last lap, Leclerc braked at the very last moment, edging out Sergio Perez on the inside for turn fourteen. As a result, he finished a close second in the Las Vegas GP.
It was a sensational race with numerous overtaking actions. Remarkable was Esteban Ocon's impressive fourth-place finish after a disappointing seventeenth qualifying. Additionally, Lance Stroll secured the fifth position, earning ten points. His teammate, Fernando Alonso, garnered two points with the ninth position.
Check out the full results of the Las Vegas Grand Prix