Las Vegas GP: Verstappen flies to victory in thrilling race

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Max Verstappen delivered a champion's drive to claim victory in a thrilling Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The Dutchman charged back from an early penalty to pass both Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc in consecutive laps and earn one of his more hard-fought wins in 2023.

Perez looked to have claimed P2 late on after a mistake but was overtaken on the final lap for the second race in a row as Leclerc snatched second in a frantic finish. 

Race Review

At the start, Verstappen got the better start and barged his way past Leclerc at Turn 1 to take the lead with both going off the track.

Fernando Alonso went for a big move but spun at Turn 1, going nose-to-nose with Valtteri Bottas and damaging Sergio Perez's front wing.

Carlos Sainz also spun further back after contact with Russell, dropping to the back of the field.

After a brief Virtual Safety Car to clear debris, Lando Norris lost control of his McLaren through Turn 11 and slid into the barriers at high speed causing a Safety Car.

The big winner from the early chaos was Yuki Tsunoda, who moved from 20th to 10th in the AlphaTauri.

At the restart, Verstappen continued to lead Leclerc but was given a five-second penalty for his Turn 1 move on the Ferrari.

Russell ran third ahead of Pierre Gasly and the two Williams' completing the top six.

The action was fast and furious with Oscar Piastri making moves into the top 10 with Lewis Hamilton following the Australian through.

Haas and AlphaTauri were the main teams going backwards while Perez, Sainz and Alonso recovered from their Lap 1 drama.

Esteban Ocon, Piastri and Hamilton continued their progress, passing Logan Sargeant in quick succession.

A big surprise at the front as Leclerc caught and passed Verstappen to take the lead as the Dutchman's tyres lost grip faster than expected.

That triggered a pit-stop from Red Bull with Max serving his five-second penalty.

Hamilton and Piastri made contact as the Mercedes made a move at Turn 14, with Lewis dropping down the field due to a puncture.

Those who pitted under the Safety Car shuffled to the front through the first pit-stop phase as Perez led ahead of Lance Stroll.

Leclerc slotted into third after his stop ahead of Sainz, Russell and Verstappen dropped to sixth after his extended stop.

The Spaniard soon dropped back on his older tyres, before Max and George made contact at Turn 12.

Verstappen got ahead of the Mercedes but the shower of debris on track caused a second Safety Car.

Perez took the opportunity to pit again and resume in second behind Leclerc as Gasly moved upto third ahead of Piastri.

Verstappen also boxed again and continued in fifth ahead of Ocon in sixth.

At the restart, Piastri made a surprise move on Gasly into Turn 5 for third as Alex Albon passed Stroll and Alonso overtook Logan Sargeant.

Russell dropped to ninth and was given a five-second penalty for the earlier incident with Verstappen.

Perez waited a few laps before passing Leclerc into Turn 14, but the Monegasque would respond to reclaim P1 a few laps later.

Verstappen though was the man on the move, overtaking both his teammate and the Ferrari in consecutive laps to take the lead.

A few laps later, Red Bull looked to have secured the one-two when Charles out-braked himself into Turn 12, allowing Perez upto second.

But Leclerc fought back on the final lap with an all-or-nothing move at Turn 14 to retake second as Perez had to settle for third.

The one-stop versus two-stop battle played out in the closing laps with Piastri having to pit and Gasly falling down the field.

Ocon claimed fourth for Alpine as Russell passed Stroll on the penultimate lap to take fifth but would drop to eighth after his penalty.

That promoted Stroll back up to P5, just ahead of Sainz and Hamilton in sixth and seventh.

Alonso was ninth as Piastri claimed the final point plus the fastest lap point in 10th.