LAS VEGAS — Max Verstappen won the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix but had to work hard for it in what was a thriller on the streets of the city.
The world champion had to fight back after a five-second penalty and make a series of passes before beating Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc into second and his Red Bull teammate, Sergio Pérez, into third.
Charles Leclerc of Ferrari was second after overtaking Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull in the final metres of the last lap.
Verstappen took the lead from polesitter Leclerc at the start of the race, but was handed a five-second penalty after pushing the Monegasque off the track.
Leclerc tried to solve matters on track and made a move in Lap 17 to overtake Verstappen, who then immediately pitted for new tyres and to serve his penalty.
The Red Bull driver came out in 11th and started to climb up his way through the grid. The safety car was deployed in Lap 25 after Verstappen made contact with Russell in a dispute for fourth place and the incident left debris on the track.
After the restart, it didn’t take Verstappen long to overtake Perez and then Leclerc to eventually claim his 18th win this season.
Verstappen had repeatedly criticised the race in Vegas, which had the possible worst start on Friday, when the first practice session was cut short and the second practice was massively delayed due to an incident with a loose water valve cover.
The Dutchman said the event on the Strip, which should cost F1 some US$500 million, was “99 per cent show, and one per cent sport” and suggested the sport’s new generation of fans are only interested in partying.
Verstappen now has 18 wins this season and he could finish it with a 19th from 22 meetings next week in Abu Dhabi, an extraordinary achievement that it is hard to imagine ever being matched. — Malaysiaxpress