Dutch Red Bull driver Max Verstappen dominated the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, breaking his own record with his 18th victory of the season and tying Sebastian Vettel for third place in the all-time standings with his 53rd career victory. The three-time world champion beat Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc by more than two seconds, who overtook Sergio Pérez on the last lap, in the “city of sin”. The Mexican Red Bull driver nevertheless definitively secured second place in the championship ahead of the seventh Mercedes Lewis Hamilton of the day.
Verstappen, 26, won the sixth race in a row and the sixteenth in the last 17. In the penultimate event of the season, he succeeded after starting from the second row. Pérez returned to the podium after six races.
The F1 championship returned to Las Vegas after 41 years. The race started at 10 p.m. local time on Saturday and was the first time since the 1985 South African Grand Prix that it did not start on a Sunday. Many celebrities from the world of sport and show business have visited it, such as David Beckham, Usain Bolt, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Brad Pitt, Kylie Minoque and Rihanna.
Leclerc, winner of qualifying, did not stay in the lead for long. After the start he fought with Verstappen, the Red Bull driver pushed him off the track and replaced him in the lead. The Dutchman then received a five-second penalty.
Numerous clashes took place at the back of the peloton. Fernando Alonso skidded, Pérez had to change wings and Carlos Sainz also had problems. The Spanish Ferrari driver qualified second, but due to an innocent battery change after the first practice session and a penalty, he started ten places lower. After the collision, he fell further, his car overheated and he was in danger of not finishing the race. He finally finished sixth.
On the third lap, McLaren’s Lando Norris crashed after a skid and the safety car went off track. Verstappen remained in the lead after the restart, but Leclerc was trailing. On lap 16, Verstappen reported tire problems, but before returning to the pits, Leclerc overtook him.
The Dutchman served a penalty in the pits and returned to eleventh place. On lap 25 he fought with George Russell, there was a collision and the pace car returned to the track. This time, Russell received a five-second penalty.
Verstappen put on new tires and finished fifth. Leclerc stays on track and returns to the lead. Pérez, who was leading at the time of the accident, gained money thanks to the safety car, returning from the pits he was second and attacked the leader Leclerc on the 33rd lap. But the Monegasque fought back against Pérez two laps later, and Verstappen then overtook the Mexican.
With twelve laps to go, Verstappen was ahead of Leclerc, who then complicated the fight for second place after going off the track on the 44th lap, leaving Pérez in front of him. Eventually he caught the Red Bull driver and overtook him after a fight on the final lap.
The Mexican thus lost a better result for the second time in a row. At the previous Sao Paulo Grand Prix, he lost the fight for third place to Alonso on the last lap.
The World Championship will end next week with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
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