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Max Verstappen

Verstappen defends controversial Leclerc Las Vegas overtake

Max Verstappen took the lead on the opening lap of the Las Vegas Grand Prix by going off the track to overtake Charles Leclerc, which resulted in a time penalty.

Verstappen Leclerc  Las Vegas start
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen has talked through his controversial overtake on Charles Leclerc on the opening lap of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Verstappen started the race from second on the grid and drew alongside pole-sitter Leclerc as they approached the first corner.

The Red Bull driver ran wide and off the track at Turn 1 with Leclerc forced wide as a result.

Verstappen kept hold of the lead after the incident and opted not to hand the position back to Leclerc, which resulted in a five-second time penalty, which he served during his first pit stop.

Despite the setback, Verstappen prevailed at the end of the Grand Prix to secure his 18th victory of the season.

The three-time World Champion stated that he had no grip after braking late into the corner.

“It was a tough one, I tried to go for it at the start,” Verstappen said. “I think we both braked quite late and then I just ran out of grip.

“We ended up a bit wide so the stewards gave me a penalty for that. That put us a little bit on the back foot.

“I had to pass quite a few cars and of course [there was] the Safety Car again. So at that point already there was a lot going on in the race.

“I had to the past few cars to get into the battle with them [Leclerc and Sergio Perez]. But then you could clearly see with the DRS around here it was very powerful.

“Even when you take the lead, if the guy behind would stay in the DRS, he would still have an opportunity to come back at you which I think created quite a lot of good racing here. So it was definitely a lot of fun.”

Verstappen 'happy' to race with broken front wing

Verstappen was hit with another issue when contact was made with Mercedes' George Russell as they battled for position.

Russell was deemed at fault on this occasion and was issued a five-second time penalty as a result.

Red Bull opted not to change Verstappen's front wing during his pit stop despite having visible damage.

“I think we were happy not to touch it because it looked already quite broken,” Verstappen explained. “Of course the structure was fine, but it's never ideal.

“There was a bit more understeer in the car, but luckily, we could we could still win the race.”

F1 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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