On Saturday, November 18, 2023, on the Las Vegas Strip Circuit in Paradise, near to Las Vegas, in Nevada, in the United States, will be held the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix, which represents the 21st race of the 2023 season of the Formula 1 World Championship. All eyes are on the reigning world champion Max Verstappen; after the victory at the previous two races in America this season, in Miami and in Austin, and the record of 17 victories in 2023, everyone wonders if the Dutchman will be able to win also at this brand new circuit. Another candidate for victory could be Lando Norris, who finished second at four of the last six races and within 10 seconds of victory at the last race in Brazil. At the same time, Aston Martin went back to the podium at the last race, while Sergio Perez is still locked in a battle against Lewis Hamilton for second in the constructors’ standings. Another main topic of this weekend is surely the weather. There is a small chance of rain hitting the track on all three days of action but the big question is how cold it will be, and how that will affect the cars, especially considering that all the sessions will be held at night, with cooler temperatures. The Las Vegas Grand Prix is back in the Formula 1 world championship’s calendar for the first time since the 1982 season, its first edition under the name Las Vegas Grand Prix. In its debut season, in 1981, and in the following one of 1982, the event was held under the name Caesars Palace Grand Prix on the homonymous track, which today doesn’t exist anymore, because it was close to the famous hotel-casinò also home to famous boxing matches. In fact, the hotel parking lot was used as the box area while the track was on a non-urbanized sector on which the circuit was traced with a special asphalt surface. The previous venue of the Caesars Palace circuit also hosted four editions of the race non-valid for the world championship, from 1981 to 1984, with the last two editions run on a different configuration. For the 1983 season the race left the world calendar, after being initially inserted, under the conditions of an agreement between the organizers and the NBC for the transmission of the race both for that championship and for the 1984 one.
The race is held at night and on Saturday for the first time since the 1985 South Africa Grand Prix on the Kyalami circuit, the 58th Grand Prix in the history of the category run on Saturday and the 77th to be held on a different day other than Sunday, for the first time in 40 years. Being run on Saturday, it is the only Grand Prix of the season where the action on track starts on Thursday. The United States strengthen their record of Grand Prix valid for the Formula 1 World Championship held in more venues on their territory, using 12 circuits, for a total of 75 races held among the 12 locations, 64 Grand Prix and 11 editions of the Indy 500 as races valid for the world championship. The track used for the return of the Grand Prix is a semi-permanent street circuit in Paradise, a city next to Las Vegas, in Nevada, in the United States. The circuit makes use almost exclusively of urban roads, except for the sector between Turns 17 and 4, the paddock area and the pit lane, which is permanent. The circuit, chosen between 31 models initially selected, to be run counterclockwise, is 6 201 metres long, behind only the length of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit among all the circuits used for the world championship, venue of the Belgian Grand Prix, and winds through 17 corners, 11 to the left and 6 to the right, provisioning two zones for the use of the Drag Reduction System. The three straight lines are located on Koval Lane, on the Las Vegas Strip and on Harmon Avenue. The second one is the longest with 1 920 metres; on it it may be reached a maximum speed of 342 km/h, and a medium lap speed of 237 km/h. The second straight line is the second longest among all the circuits of the world championship. The lap time is estimated to be one minute and thirty-three seconds. The largeness of the track varies from a minimum of 12 meters to a maximum of 15 meters. The layout of the starting grid has a slight bend in the final part, at Turn 17, the last of the track.The first intermediate is positioned after Turn 2, while the second intermediate after Turn 13. The speed trap, the point where the maximum speed is detected, is positioned before Turn 14. The circuit obtains the approval of first degree by the Federation, necessary to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix. The speed behind the pit lane is established, being a street circuit, at 60 km/h. The intended distance of competition is 50 laps, equal to 310.050 km. Originally the circuit had 14 corners, with a wide turn to 180° around the Sphere, which corresponded to Turn 6. The actual layout has a difference. The two Drag Reduction System areas established by the Federation are located, respectively, between Turn 4 and Turn 5, with detection point established after Turn 2, and between Turn 13 and Turn 14, with detection point established at Turn 13.
Every discourse related to the allocation of the world title is closed, but the Red Bull Racing, in case of success, would obtain the 20th triumph in a single season, setting a new record. The Milton Keynes team currently holds the same merit one (19) with the Mercedes of the 2016 world championship. In addition, Max Verstappen can conquer the 53th victory of his career, which would lead him to equal the German Sebastian Vettel, on the third place of the all-times ranking, just behind Lewis Hamilton (103), and Michael Schumacher (91). His team mate, Sergio Pérez, can finish second in the drivers’ standings, if he has an advantage of more than 26 points over Lewis Hamilton, third in the ranking. For the first time in their history after their debut in the category in the 2005 season, the Red Bull Racing can have their two drivers in the two first positions in the general ranking. For this Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tyre supplier, offers the choice between the C3, C4 e C5 tyre compounds, the type of tires that characterizes the central range of the type of tires made available from the Italian company for the world championship being a street circuit. It is chosen for the 10th time during this season, and for the first time since the Mexican Grand Prix. The pitfalls will still be numerous: in addition to the fact that the teams do not know the track, very low temperatures are expected both during the tests, both in competition. It is expected that the temperature will not exceed the 10-11 °C, with the risk that the latter lowers further in the race. This factor can generate a loss of mechanic grip of the tyre, creating problems with the handling of the cars on the track. In this regard, Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, declares on the eve of the Grand Prix:
"Formula 1 returns to the United States for the third time this year, following Miami and Austin. And it's with one of the most-eagerly grands prix of the year, in Las Vegas, where the pinnacle of motorsport hasn't been seen since 1982. This will be an incredible race, as every day is showtime in Las Vegas, and all of us working in Formula 1 want to put on the sort of spectacle that is worthy of this amazing city. It will also be a major technical challenge for both the teams and us, as we head into this race with no real references apart from simulation. Nobody has ever actually driven the 6.12-kilometre Las Vegas Strip circuit before, which is second only to Spa in terms of overall length this year, characterised by three straights and 17 corners. The surface will be a mix of the usual street asphalt, especially on the actual Strip, as well as other parts that have been completely re-asphalted for the occasion; adding another unknown element. There won't be any support races and the track will be opened again to normal traffic for long chunks of the day, which means that the surface won't rubber in as usual and deliver improved grip. We're expecting the cars to run quite low levels of downforce, similar to Baku or indeed Monza: hitting a high top speed will be key to being competitive. All the sessions will take place at night, with unusual ambient and track temperatures for a race weekend; more similar to those found back when pre-season testing used to take place in Europe. Those long straights also make it harder to warm up tyres in qualifying, as well as keep them in the right window: the same challenge as seen in Baku, which will probably be more pronounced in Las Vegas. Bearing all this in mind, we've selected the trio of softest compounds for this weekend: C3, C4, and C5, which should guarantee good grip. Minimum tyre pressures should be 27 psi at the front and 24.5 psi at the back, due to the expected low temperatures as well as the track layout. In cold conditions, the gap between cold tyre pressures and normal running pressures is greatly reduced - so when the car is moving, tyre pressure will increase a lot less than on other circuits due to the low asphalt temperatures. As a result, we think that running pressures will still be lower than on other circuits that are tough on tyres, such as Baku for example. So all the elements are in place for an extraordinary race, packed with surprises and unpredictability. As the title of Elvis Presley's famous racing film goes...Viva Las Vegas".
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal, explains how the team is coming back in action after a difficult race in Brazil. He knows this is going to be another challenge:
"Brazil was probably our most difficult weekend of the season. After promising performances in the US and Mexico, we didn't perform at our best in Brazil. We have been hard at work to identify the wrong turn we took with the set-up; we have done that. We understand our mistakes and can explain our performance loss to the field. That's important as we look to secure P2 in the Constructors' Championship".
And he adds:
"In parallel, we have been preparing for the challenge of racing at a venue that is a complete unknown. We have prepared the best we can, using the limited information we have, and there are some unique characteristics we can anticipate. The schedule is offset compared to other races. We'll be running at night, where ambient and track temperatures will likely be in the single digits. Plus, the track layout itself is unusual with many slow corners but long straights. It's going to be a big challenge for us all and we're looking forward to taking it on. It will also be an immense effort off-track. We have an impressive guest hosting programme including our own three-storey Vegas Club next to Turn 4. Media interest will be through the roof and seeing the cars race down the Las Vegas Strip will be one of the most exciting moments of the season. The eyes of the sporting world will be on F1, and we look forward to putting on a spectacular show. It is going to be something truly special to witness".
Lando Norris is very excited to be here. He wants to confirm the good results obtained during the last races:
"It's finally time for the Las Vegas GP! We've all been looking forward to this since it was announced last year. I'm excited to race on the Vegas Strip. I'm sure it's going to be a special one with an incredible atmosphere. It's a brand-new track for all of us. I've been preparing in the sim but experiencing it in practice will be interesting. We've had a couple of good races with four podiums in the last five races. I'm determined to keep the consistency going into the final two races of the season and end on a high".
Oscar Piastri is of the same advice and hopes to get back in the points:
"I'm excited to be heading to Vegas and kicking off the last double header of the season. It should be a fun one, driving in a unique location. I can't wait to see what it looks like. Vegas is another new track for me, but it's new for everyone else, so it should make for an interesting weekend. The team have done an amazing job with the car this season, and I'm hoping to get back in the points".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, hopes for a podium:
"We're now heading into the final double header of the season, a season that's showcased the team's hard work, focus and determination to achieve our mission to go back and fight for podiums. The Las Vegas GP will have an incredible atmosphere, and it is a new track for all. We'll have some learning to do during sessions, however, I have no doubt that the team will deliver".
Max Verstappen doesn’t know what to expect but is ready to fight:
"It's great to be here in Las Vegas, the penultimate race of the season. This race is of course a massive unknown for everyone, we don't know what to expect but we'll approach it like we do any other weekend. We of course don't have the historical data to look at and compare so there will be a lot to learn. The temperatures will also be very low on the track at night so it will be interesting to see how the RB19 performs in these conditions. I'm looking forward to racing down the strip too, that will look really cool".
Sergio Perez wants to secure the second place in the ranking:
"Vegas is going to be a crazy race! You can already see the whole city has been taken over by Formula One and it’s going be very unique racing around the streets of Vegas. I already had a taste of it when the Team ran the RB7 here last year to launch the race and it was strange having been here as a tourist to be driving down the Strip in an F1 car. Vegas will also present some challenges to us, the track will be cold and the car will run a lot differently than usual due to the temperatures. It’s something we all need to overcome though and we have been working hard as a Team behind the scenes on the set up and prep required to make this weekend a successful one. For me I want to secure second in the Championship - it would be a fun place to do it".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, states that the work done at the factory will be crucial for the results here in Vegas:
"We are delighted that Formula 1 is back in Las Vegas for the first time in over 40 years. Over the past five years, our sport has become increasingly popular in the United States and with three races taking place here this season, it’s clear this is a new golden age for Formula 1 in America. The USA has always been special for Ferrari, we always have a lot of support here and so we have come up with a unique livery for this race. As far as the racing is concerned, we will be tackling a completely new circuit and we can expect very cold conditions, unlike those at any other round on the calendar. Therefore, the work we have undertaken back at the factory, in meetings and in the simulator, will play a key role in ensuring the drivers and the car can perform at their very best. In fact, simulation is a great help in managing the many unknown factors, which can be a competitive advantage, allowing the drivers to focus on learning the track. Charles is always very quick on this type of track where you have to run close to the barriers and, in Singapore, Carlos showed he is no less adept in this discipline. We are confident that we can be on the pace and if we give the drivers everything they need, then a good result is within our grasp".
Charles Leclerc, after a week of relax, is ready to get on track:
"I stayed in America, specifically in Los Angeles where I relaxed and enjoyed myself. I recharged the batteries a bit and now I’m ready to get back in the car. We are about to take on a brand new street circuit and I can’t wait to discover it. We will find out a lot in tomorrow’s two free practice sessions, including whether it’s true that this track should suit our car better than the past few we have raced on. There’s always a big show that goes with it here, whether in Florida or in Austin or here in Las Vegas. I think it’s important to have the right balance between the sport and the show, but I think it’s normal that there is a bit more of the show element when it’s happening in Las Vegas. This evening’s opening ceremony was amazing, as was seeing so many people already in the grandstands on a Wednesday. I took part in a kart race here about ten years ago, although of course the atmosphere was very different. Since then, I’ve also been here just for fun and now we are here to tackle the first Grand Prix in this city for forty years, which shows how the popularity of Formula 1 has exploded in the States in recent years. So it would be nice to get a great result for the whole team this weekend".
Carlos Sainz Jr. is looking for getting comfortable with the car before anything else:
"I have to say it was great fun, and never mind about the cup. I’m not going to do the planned track walk today as it’s pouring, but it’s not meant to rain for the rest of the weekend. So I will watch the Safety Car laps very carefully to try and understand a bit more about the track to add to what we’ve already learned from the simulator. It will be important to get comfortable with the car immediately because getting in tune with the track is essential when you tackle a street circuit for the first time. You have to do as many laps as possible, managing to get close to the walls and get the braking points right, because here they are at the end of long straights and they’re particularly tricky. Tomorrow’s going to be a busy day and we have to make the most of it".
On Thursday, November 16, 2023 the first free practice session is interrupted after just 8 minutes due to an incident involving Carlos Sainz Jr.’s car, which hits a drain uplifted along the Strip straight line. A little before, in the same point, the Alpine of Esteban Ocon had suffered a break of the chassis, probably for the lifting of the same drain. The session is interrupted, to allow Commissioners an inspection of the circuit, looking for other situations that may endanger the safety of the drivers. The best time, among the drivers who have concluded a timed lap, is set by Charles Leclerc. After what happened during the first session, on the car of Sainz Jr. is required a new survival cell replacement, a new internal combustion engine, a new energy recovery system and electronic control unit, while on Ocon’s car the survival cell replacement. The components of the car of Sainz Jr. have to be changed, but are limited according to the sporty rulement. The Spanish Ferrari driver is summoned by the stewards. After the request to them from the Italian constructor in order to allow the replacement of components without receiving a penalty, the stewards establish that even if the damage was caused by completely unusual external circumstances, the article 2.1 of the sporty rulement obliges all interested parties to apply the prescribed procedures. As a consequence, the mandatory sanction described in the article 28.3 has to be applied. The current legislation does not provide for a derogation for these cases. Because of the problems reported during the first session and after the request of the race director, the German Niels Wittich, in the interest of safety, the duration of the second session is extended by 30 minutes, with a start postponed by two hours compared to the original program. The program of the third session of free practice on Friday does not change. The tyres to give back to the supplier after the first session have to be substituted not later than two hours after the end of the second session. The meeting of the drivers on Friday is postponed from 2:30 a.m. local time to 6:30 p.m..
Before the start of the second session of Thursday free practice, on the car of Sainz Jr. is installed the third unit related to the energy recovery system. The Spanish driver is penalized by tenth positions on the starting grid because the new installed component exceeds those usable in the maximum number established by the technical regulation. The second session starts with a further postponement of 30 minutes for the technical verifications on the track after the problems of the first session. The two Ferraris are the fastest cars. Leclerc is ahead of Sainz Jr. by half a second, while Fernando Alonso finishes third, a few thousandths from his compatriot. The Red Bull Racing seems less competitive, with the fourth time for Pérez and the sixth for Verstappen. Logan Sargeant was the author of a crawl against barriers, while George Russell did some head tails. During the first two sessions of free practice on Thursday, Ocon and Kevin Magnussen use the assembly of a transmission outside the allocation provided by the regulation. Both drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as this operation is among the maximum number allowed by the technical regulation. After the race director’s request, in the interest of safety, the time of the curfew on Friday is modified from 6:30 a.m. local time to 7:00 a.m.. In the night between Friday and Saturday, the Red Bull Racing and the Mercedes use one of the two curfews allowed during the season to make some operations on their vehicles. Both teams are not sanctioned. Before the start of the first session of free practice on Friday, on Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly’s cars is installed the eighth unit related to the exhaust system. Both the Alpine drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new component installed is within the maximum number laid down in the technical regulation. At the end of the session, Lance Stroll is summoned by the stewards for having overtaken Carlos Sainz Jr. under the yellow flag regime. The Canadian driver of the Aston Martin is penalized by five positions on the starting grid and by two points on the superlicence.
Max Verstappen admits the team struggle with the choice of the tyres for the race:
"The track was quite slippery, it took a bit of extra time to rubber in due to the minimal running in FP1, but it was evolving and was a bit better towards the end of FP2. We managed to do our whole run programme which was the most important thing today with the disruption. From what we learnt, it won’t be super straightforward to pick the tyres for the race. The soft was good over one lap, but it was struggling quite a lot on the long run. Even the medium didn't perform as expected, so there’s still a few things we have to look into to improve our degradation. I think we still look very good compared to the others, but there’s more lap time and management to find".
Sergio Perez is optimistic, even if today things didn’t go well for him:
"It’s a shame that FP1 ended the way it did, and I feel very sorry for the fans. However, I’m sure we will have a good weekend of racing ahead of us. It’s a brand-new track and the grip level is quite low, which does make things a lot more challenging in the car. We have made good progress, which is important, so I am happy with our performance so far. Ferrari have a strong race pace, but we will see what tomorrow brings; come race day I think we will be there".
Charles Leclerc is looking forward to FP2:
"It was a bit of a different day. With FP1 being stopped after just four laps, we didn’t get much mileage in, so we did our best to make up for it in FP2, with 90 minutes and 4 tyre compounds available to us. The session was productive, we put in a solid number of laps and I really enjoyed driving on this track. For now, we look quite competitive, but there is still a long way to go. We have a limited amount of time left to prepare for tomorrow, so we will work hard to keep this momentum".
Carlos Sainz is sorry because the team have to rebuild his car due to external problems:
"An eventful day for us after the problem in FP1 with the manhole cover. Our guys however did an amazing job. They basically had to rebuild the entire car ahead of FP2 and thanks to them we managed to complete our programme in the second session, so a big thank you to all the mechanics. We seem to be on the competitive side this weekend and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. On the negative side, we have been given a 10-place penalty for Sunday after the manhole cover damaged, amongst other things, my battery and we had to replace it. I honestly cannot understand it and I think an exemption to the rule should have been considered given what happened, but we’ll have to deal with it".
Lewis Hamilton is very happy to race in Las Vegas, as the circuit is fast and entertaining:
"It's an incredibly fast circuit and I had a lot of fun out there. I'm so glad we got to run again today. The circuit did a great job to fix the issue we saw in FP1, and we had an interesting FP2. The balance of the car wasn't too bad and on similar tyres, I don't feel that we're too far off compared to our competitors. It looks like everyone is suffering from graining and we were running out of tyres; I think everyone was in a similar boat. That's likely due to a combination of a new track surface and the temperature. We are also running a low downforce set-up, so you are sliding through a lot of the slow-speed corners, and some of the high-speed corners too. The rest of the weekend is going to be interesting, and I think Qualifying is going to be hugely important. Managing degradation is going to be key on Saturday night in the race too. Overall though, I had a blast out there, I feel great and I'm ready to go again later today".
George Russell is of the same advice:
"It was good to finally get going after quite a long day! It was great to take to the track properly in FP2 and it's a very fast circuit. It's some of the highest speeds of the year and racing at night is spectacular. It's going to be an interesting weekend. The session was dominated by trying to get the tyres working, and then managing graining too. I think that could hinder everyone come Saturday night. The track was evolving very quickly; the early laps were like driving on ice. However, as the dirt and the dust cleared you were learning, and your braking points were changing. That's tricky, especially with a low downforce set-up, but I had good fun out there. Overall though, it's all about pace. It was hard to get a true idea of where we are relative to others given we only took one new set of Soft tyres, where others took two. Ultimately, race pace will be key. I'm looking forward to getting some sleep now and coming back for FP3 later today".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, explains how the team is trying to understand the track and the car’s behavior:
"It was good to get running again in FP2 and we were able to complete most of our programme. Ahead of the event, we'd identified warm-up and graining as being the most significant challenges that we would face. We ran through a few tests to today aimed at further understanding those issues. The track grip was evolving rapidly, which was helping the car balance come together through the session. We know we've got a few areas that we can look to improve in terms of that balance and long run pace too. It's clearly a very tight field as is becoming the norm this year. Every little bit of performance we can find ahead of Qualifying is going to be useful. It's also good to have a bit of time now to pick through the data ahead of FP3 this evening. Overall, we've got off to a decent start and we'll hopefully be able to build on that as we go into Qualifying and the Grand Prix".
Lando Norris is not overall satisfied:
"Today was a tricky day on a tricky circuit. The grip was poor and it's easy to go through the tyres quite quickly, which is what we were doing. I think we're a long way off where we've been the last few weekends, but probably where we expected. It's similar to where we were in Monza and other low downforce circuits. It's a struggle at the minute but I'm sure we can make progress into tomorrow".
Oscar Piastri says this is a difficult track:
"It was interesting to get out on track for my first laps in Las Vegas. It was very, very slippery and it's a difficult track which is quite bumpy, but it was nice to get out there. The tyres were pretty difficult with a lot of graining, which is something we need to try to look at for tomorrow. We'll have to see what we can do, hopefully it's a better day all around for everyone involved and hopefully we can have the crowd back tomorrow. It's a shame they didn't get to see any action today".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, explains the characteristics of this new track:
"It was a shame for teams and spectators alike that we lost the first session, but what happened with the manhole cover is something that we've seen before. The FIA reacted well to fix the problem and get us going for FP2. We had some issues with cooling the car, which means we lost a little bit of time at the start of the session. We got going relatively soon and got into understanding the behaviour of the car and the behaviour of the tyres. Conditions here are unique, with a unique temperature and unique tarmac characteristics. It's very smooth and very slippery, which means the cars operate in a regime very different to what we've seen in recent races. We have work to do to extract more performance - but we gathered a lot of data that we will look at in preparation for FP3. There is performance we can unlock, and we remain positive about the rest of the weekend, but we need to find this improvement because we weren't particularly competitive today. My thanks go to the entire team who have navigated working on a difficult schedule into the early hours of the morning. We now get some rest ahead of a busy few final days here in Las Vegas".
Fernando Alonso will try on Friday to optimise the result:
"This is a really interesting circuit with a lot of very different corners and long straights. At night, the tyres lose temperature a little bit so it's interesting going into the hard braking zones. This could make for a fun race with overtaking opportunities. Let's see tomorrow if we can optimise things. We had a decent first day but we still need to work on a few things, as does everybody. Let's see tomorrow when we extract more potential from the car. I think it's going to be very tight in Qualifying and the race".
Alex Albon is overall optimistic about the weekend:
"It's a tricky track but it wasn't too bad, however it's going to be all about the braking. As soon as you get confident on the brakes, you're going to be quite quick. Being a new track, the evolution is extremely high, but I do think we're in good shape and the car is in a good place. We're going to have to do a bit of fine tuning which is expected but the pace was good. I think the long run is a little more difficult because of the cold temperatures but otherwise I feel good".
Simone Berra, Pirelli Chief Engineer, as always analyzes the circuit with a look over the tryres’ chosen by the different teams:
"It was definitely an unusual first day, with one session reduced to almost nothing and the next one extended by 50%, along with permission granted to use all the sets of tyres available to make up for the time lost in the first session. This meant we were able to get some useful initial indications which are important for the rest of the weekend, starting with how the track is evolving. As was entirely predictable, lap times tumbled down pretty quickly with every passing lap, even if we are still quite a long way off our simulation times, by around three to four seconds. Furthermore, we were able to check the speed of track evolution over a time period reasonably similar to a race distance, which highlights how conditions might change during the race itself, thus informing strategy and compound choices. Looking at the split of laps completed between the Soft, Medium and Hard, it seems the last of these is being saved by several teams specifically for Saturday night, with the Medium also being very much in the running. Having said that, the Soft cannot be ruled out completely, precisely because of my earlier comment about track evolution. When assessing this, we must also take into account that much of the track is now open again to road traffic which is bound to lead to a quite significant reset in terms of the rubber laid down on the track surface. Going into the Las Vegas round, we had two bugbears in mind: warm-up and graining. Honestly, as regards the first of those, today we didn't notice anything dramatic or unprecedented compared to what we have seen before in this discipline. As for the second, it was clearly significant, but still in line with what we have experienced at other tracks. Furthermore, we saw today how the graining tended to progressively reduce as the cars did more and more laps, a sign that the situation could change, possibly quite significantly, by Saturday night, opening up opportunities that maybe today seemed unlikely".
On Friday, November 17, 2023 Magnussen sets the first valid time, then defeated by Pérez, in turn preceded by Leclerc (1'34"898). Track conditions are less critical than expected, with an asphalt temperature of 17 °C. A lot of drivers decide to run different laps in a row. Verstappen is now second, detached of 0"089 from Leclerc, while Magnussen, after his best time in the first sector, jumps to the fourth position. The track seems to improve constantly. Carlos Sainz Jr. takes the time to 1'34"787, but is immediately defeated by the other Ferrari driver Leclerc (1'34"072). Piastri is sixth, while Lando Norris is penalized from a slower Red Bull Racing on course, while they were looking for performance. Fernando Alonso is in fourth place, preceded then by Alexander Albon. Norris manages to improve and is second, quickly defeated by Pérez and Hamilton. Russell sees his time cancelled for non-compliance with track limits, but is then able to catch the fifth time. Improvements also for Max Verstappen, who beats Leclerc’s time. Albon’s improvement allows him to get the seventh position, while the other Williams, of Sargeant, is third. The challenge for first place is still on between the two Ferraris: first Sainz Jr. closes with 1'33"851, then Leclerc sets the limit at 1'33"617. Nico Hülkenberg obtains the fifth place for now, preceded then by Gasly and Valtteri Bottas. Russell is again deprived of a time, for failure to comply with the route; Piastri remains in the dangerous zone for the elimination, while Hamilton is ahead of the two Haas. Also Russell improves and is third. In the final part of Q1 there is a misunderstanding between Ocon and Verstappen, who are close to an incident. The drivers eliminated are Norris, Ocon, Zhou, Piastri and Tsunoda. Even in the second part is Kevin Magnussen who inaugurates the list of times, as the two Aston Martins prefer to use two laps to launch. As in Q1, the two Ferraris get the first two positions, with Leclerc in pole (1'33"966).
Pérez is able to defeat the Monegasque’s time for a single thousandth, before Alonso gets the first place, with 1'33"880. Lance Stroll is sixth, ahead of Pierre Gasly; a little after, is Sargeant who takes the sixth position. Gasly is fifth, preceded immediately by Albon. Hamilton is first, with 1'33"837, preceding George Russell (1'33"870); Verstappen does better, with 1'33"607. Charles Leclerc is the first driver to close in less than a minute and 33, followed by Sainz Jr., who stops at five tenths from his team mate. The two Haas are fourth with Magnussen and ninth with Hülkenberg. Also Bottas is in the top ten, before being excluded from it by Stroll. Russell is third, Sargeant sixth and Alonso fifth. Bottas’ Alfa Romeo is eighth, while Albon fiifth, before Gasly obtains the fourth place. At the end, is still Leclerc who reduces the time, with1'32"775. The drivers eliminated are Hamilton, Pérez, Hülkenberg, Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo. In Q3 Magnussen’s time is immediately defeated by Gasly; Alonso gets the command before Sainz Jr. sets 1'33"043; then, Leclerc (1'33"021) demonstrates again to be the fastest. Verstappen is not able to do better than the Italian cars and is third. Russell, exploiting a moment when his opponents are in the pits to find the track free, goes fifth. In his second fast attempt, Leclerc doesn’t improve in the first sector but, at the end of the lap, takes his time to 1'32"726. Verstappen makes a mistake and decides to not end his lap. The only one who seems to be ble to worry Leclerc is still Sainz Jr., however penalized, who stops at 0"044 of detachment. Sargeant sets the fourth time, Bottas the fifth, both defeated by Russell. Also Albon is fifth, but the two Williams are preceded by Gasly. Charles Leclerc conquers the 23rd pole position of his career, the fifth of the season and the first from the one obtained at the Mexican Grand Prix. Sainz Jr., second, will start twelfth due to the back in the grid because of the penalty for the replacement of the power unit’s components. Verstappen is third but will start second due to the Spaniard’s penalty. Russell’s promotion in third place after Sainz Jr.’s penalty testifies to his sixth start in the season in the first three places, while his team mate Hamilton is eliminated in Q2 for the third time this season. Hamilton and Russell are now 11 and 10 in a head-to-head duel in qualifying, the only still unsolved between team mates in the championship. Gasly starts fourth, his best grid position of the season, and of the Alpine since Ocon’s third place at the Monaco Grand Prix. The fifth position represents for Albon the second start in the first five places during the season, after the fourth place at the Dutch Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc is the poleman of Las Vegas! Of course he is very excited about it:
"I'm excited to be starting on pole tomorrow, I really like the track and I've felt comfortable in the car all weekend. It's a bit more tricky than expected to overtake and I hope we see some good battles tomorrow. Our race pace looks quite good so hopefully we can convert the pole into a win".
Carlos Sainz Jr., on the other side, will start twelfth, but he will do his best to recover:
"It’s been a great qualifying for the team. Unfortunately, it won’t be a front row lockout tomorrow as I will take a penalty. The frustration and anger I feel right now won’t go away easily, even more so looking at how competitive we are on this new track. However, you can be sure I will do absolutely everything to recover from P12 and I know we can produce a solid race. It’s unknown territory, but hopefully it will be an enjoyable Sunday with many overtakes".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, hopes for a great race on Saturday for the team:
"This is a very good result for the team, to deliver a one-two in qualifying for the first time at this new Las Vegas track thanks to Charles, who showed once more his skills over a flying lap, and with Carlos also putting in a great performance very close behind. It’s significant that we have finished on top of the timesheet in every session which is good preparation for the race. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the penalty for Carlos, who deserved to start from the front row".
And he adds:
"We know the penalty is unfair but he has had strong and consistent pace all weekend, as has Charles. So we have to look ahead and no longer think about it, because the points are given out in the race and now we have to focus on ourselves. We will now work on preparing our strategy, especially because on this type of circuit there could always be various scenarios involving Safety Cars and so on. I’m sure we can do a good job in the race and it’s also nice to see that there are four Ferrari power units in the top ten in qualifying. With the race starting at 10 at night, the track will again be rather cold, so in terms of tyre strategy the main concern will be addressing graining, rather than overheating".
Max Verstappen is not a fan of street circuits. The Red Bull driver is clear when he expresses his feelings:
"I think we maximised what we could today. I'm not a massive fan of street circuits, I prefer the high speed tracks where you can really push the car to the limit. So far this weekend we’ve been lacking pace with the one lap performance but the long runs looked good yesterday. Starting second tomorrow will be interesting, the lead up to turn one isn't too bad but we definitely need a good start. The race will be all about keeping the tyres alive, there will be a lot of graining. I'll ease myself in to it tomorrow and if I see an opportunity I will go for it".
Sergio Perez didn’t do his best today:
"It was an unfortunate qualifying. The gaps were super close, and we just didn’t maximize the full potential of our car today, we had some more pace in it and could have been a little bit faster - it’s something we need to understand. I also think our run programme wasn’t quite the right one, we finished a little too early, with four minutes left of Q2 and people just kept improving, there was a little more track evolution there. We will anaylse it but on the other hand there is nothing we can do now, so let’s focus on tomorrow because I think we should be able to come through the field, we have a fast race car. I think the DRS on the Strip should help the racing and we will see what we are able to do, we just need to be patient and I believe in our pace. I think tomorrow is going to be a very interesting race".
Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, admits that this performance is not usual for them:
"First qualifying here in Vegas and it was one, as expected, that continually evolved. It was slippery out there and that affected performance. Unfortunately for Checo he was unable to make it out of Q2. He drove well, but went early and was within a tenth but it wasn’t enough. He will be starting a little further down the grid than we would like but we expect him to climb well tomorrow. Max struggled with grip. It was not the usual qualifying for him that we are used to seeing. The grid penalty to Carlos puts him on the front row though and this is a track that so far doesn’t look like it is too testing for the drivers, it is one you can over take on so it should be an exciting race tomorrow".
George Russell nis very satisfied:
"I'm very satisfied with Qualifying today. We were always up there in the top-four, but the Ferraris were a step ahead of everyone today. I think P4 maximised what we had, and we were close with Verstappen for P3. With the grid penalty for Sainz, I think third is a good place to be starting from. The race itself is going to be very tricky".
And he adds:
"I am sure there will be a lot of graining for all teams in these cold conditions, but nobody knows exactly how it is going to play out. We may see multiple stops in tomorrow's race but whoever manages to keep the tyres alive will be big beneficiaries. We had some difficult long runs and I think the Ferraris are quicker than us, not just on the single lap but in race pace. We will do our best to give Leclerc a fight though and hopefully the race will throw up a few surprises".
Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, wanted to do better:
"That wasn't a great Qualifying session, but it is what it is. I really struggled for grip out there and we didn't manage to get the tyres working throughout the whole session. It's not ideal but it's an issue I've been dealing with for a while. We saw a decent amount of track evolution. Not a crazy amount, but it was still enough to knock me out as I failed to improve on my final lap in Q2. We've seen a lot of graining on the tyres up and down the field in practice, so it will be interesting to see if that continues in the Grand Prix. I think tyre management, how you bring the tyres in and how you progress in addition to where you push and don't push will be key tomorrow. We made a few changes to the car ahead of FP3 and we're hoping that they will help us in the race".
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, talks about the mystery regarding the tyres in this new circuit. However, they hope to manage the tyres well during the race:
"Getting the tyres in the right window remains a little bit of a mystery. You can see the difference between getting it correct and not so correct with our two cars today. We saw it earlier on in FP3 and it's very difficult to optimise for. Lewis didn't have any more grip on his final lap. I think we are really talking about only a few degrees centigrade between having grip and not having grip. You can also see this with there being a few surprise eliminations in Q1. On the other side, the Ferraris both put in stunning laps and were deservedly quickest. It will be absolutely vital to manage the tyres well in the race tomorrow, as we have seen plenty of graining throughout the field in practice. We will have to be patient in the early stages and take it from there. We expect Leclerc and Verstappen, who are starting ahead of George, to be very quick but we will see what we can do".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, says that they are overall satisfied as they were very strong, even if are aware that they cannot match the Ferrari’s times for now:
"Both drivers made a few changes to the car overnight and used the final practice to evaluate those. Whilst George was happier with his balance today, Lewis felt like he'd lost a bit of confidence in the car. We'd wound back on a few of those changes going into Qualifying, but the car wasn't working for Lewis and ultimately, he got bumped in Q2 by a small margin. George was having a happier time and put together three solid runs. We didn't have an answer for Ferrari's single lap pace today and they were very strong. We still get to start third on the grid though which puts us in a good position to fight for a podium. There are a lot of unknowns going into the race, mainly around how the Hard tyre will warm up and how it will last on a long run. It's clear the Soft and the Medium will suffer graining at some point if used, so we will need to deploy careful management. The Hard should allow for a bit more pushing however and that should open the race up a bit".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, as always analyzes the tyres’ behavior during this qualifying session:
"This was definitely a spectacular evening, with some surprises as well as some predictable results. From a purely technical point of view, we saw a qualifying session in which teams adopted various different approaches. There were some who did a preparation lap after their out-lap and others who pushed hard right away, which allowed for a long run in Q1, doing one quick lap, followed by one or two cool down laps, while others tried to make the best use of the greater grip offered by new rubber. It's hard to say which method proved most effective because track evolution was very significant, more important than any other factor. This was entirely predictable, partly because it was clear that the track was almost back to the condition it was in at the start of yesterday, mainly down to the fact it had been reopened to normal traffic. Looking ahead to tomorrow night's race, it's clear that the Hard and Medium are the compounds best suited to tackle the scheduled 50 laps. There are various options on the table, both in terms of which sets the teams will choose to give back at the end of the day, and based on the impact of graining, which was significant again today, because of the aforementioned comments on the state of the track. If tomorrow, this phenomenon becomes less of a factor as the track rubbers in, then the one-stop should be quickest, otherwise a two-stop could prove to be competitive. Then, the choice of which compound to use the most will also depend on choices made today and, maybe, it could also open a window for the Soft for the final part of the race".
Lando Norris does not hide his frustration:
"A frustrating end to qualifying. The pace hadn't looked too bad in FP3, but we just didn't put it together in qualifying. The tyres didn't perform quite as we expected, and the graining was pretty bad so perhaps we should have used a second set. There are still opportunities for tomorrow, the pace of the car is better than where we've qualified and plenty of cars are out of position. We'll work on our plan tonight and try and move up into the points tomorrow".
Oscar Piastri talks about the problems born by the use of tyres:
"Qualifying obviously didn't go to plan. We'll need to look at the tyre strategy. If other teams used two sets of tyres, I think that explains pretty well why we were at the back. It's a little unexpected after FP3, with how the tyres behaved and how the pace was. It had looked promising. It's a shame but there's a lot of long straights here and hopefully we can make our way back forward tomorrow".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, admits they struggles a bit, but he is focused on the race:
"So far, this weekend in Vegas has been a bit of a struggle, both in terms of putting the car in a decent operating performance window, and also dealing with the behaviour of the tyres, which are difficult in terms of warm up but at the same time can also get damaged very easily with graining. Despite that, we had enough performance to progress from Q1, but we were not able because the single set of tyres we were going to use was degrading too rapidly and was not enough to beat cars that used two sets. We'll take that on the chin and refocus on preparing for the race. It may be eventful, tyre behavior will be a major factor, and we'll do our best to recover and score some points".
Fernando Alonso looks at tomorrow:
"We are quite happy to be in Q3 and we will see what we can do from ninth tomorrow. I was happy with both of my laps in Q3 and we finished about half a tenth from seventh position, so it was all very tight. Coming here we thought this circuit might not suit our package as much, especially with the high straight-line speeds. The venue here is impressive and they have done a good job with that. I think the only issue for us has been the asphalt, which doesn't have that much grip, so perhaps that can be looked at for the future. But, so far, it's been fun racing in Vegas".
Alex Albon is overall satisfied, even if he knows that this track doesn’t suit the car:
"We executed very well today; we've known this track was going to suit us but it's always a bit scary coming in when there's a bit of hype and pressure, so I'm really happy with how that went. I've been struggling with the brakes all weekend and after my off in FP3, I had to reset my confidence a little bit. I also just want to say thanks again to the team for their hard work in getting the car ready for Qualifying. Tomorrow is going to be all about the graining, with cars that suffer probably going a second and a half slower, and vulnerable to anyone overtaking. We did have some graining on Friday, but we've made some setup changes that should hopefully help mitigate this. I'm obviously excited for Logan as well, so to be starting P5 and P6 due to penalties, we now just need to finish it off tomorrow".
On Saturday 19th November 2023, at the start of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, Max Verstappen closes the ideal trajectory to Charles Leclerc at Turn 1, forcing him out of the track, and takes the lead; at the back, some cars have contact, at the point that Pérez and Alonso are immediately forced to pit for some damage. A virtual safety car is triggered and it will last until lap 2. Then, the race direction will hand Verstappen a five-second penalty because of its move over the Ferrari driver. On lap 3, Lando Norris loses the control of his McLaren, which hits the barriers and finishes in the escape route. The race direction sends on track the safety car. The race restarts on lap 7 with Verstappen on the lead, ahead of Leclerc, Russell, Pierre Gasly, the two Williams and Kevin Magnussen. Magnussen is overtaken by Ocon first, then by both Piastri and Hamilton. The fight between Gasly and Russell ends with the Frenchman passing the Mercedes driver, who pits for a tyre swap. At the back, Sainz Jr., which was involved in the initial crashes, fight against his compatriot Alonso for P17 and manages to take the place on lap 11; the Spaniard, in two laps, manages to go up in fourteenth position. Verstappen maintains a safety margin on Leclerc until lap 16, when the Monegasque manages to pass the Red Bull Racing driver, who struggles with the tyres, taking the lead. The reigning world champion pits for the first time. Further back, there is a contact between Piastri and Hamilton, due to the Briton’s attempt to pass the McLaren driver: they are forced to pit due to a puncture; the premature stop penalizes Hamilton which was on hards since the start. After twenty laps, Leclerc is ahead of Sergio Pérez who, taking advantage of the other drivers’ stops and with some overtakes, has recovered from P18. The Monegasque pits a lap later, while Fernando Alonso is overtaken by Russell for the fifth position and, a little after, also by Verstappen. Russell and Verstappen also pass Sainz Jr., on lap 25.
The fight between them takes to a contact, which leaves some debris on track. The race direction decides to bring out a new safety car. The two Red Bull Racing, Sainz Jr. and Alonso take advanatge of the situation to pit. At the restart, Leclerc is the leader, ahead of Pérez, Gasly, Piastri, Verstappen and Esteban Ocon. Piastri takes P13 from Gasly. The Alpine French driver is then passed also by Verstappen. Pérez, on fresher tyres, is back at the command,on lap 32, passing Leclerc. The Ferrari driver, using the Red Bull Racing’s slipstream, is back in P1, four laps later. Also Verstappen passes his temmate and, a lap later, takes the lead, to the detriment still of Leclerc, which however manages to stay near to the Dutchman. On lap 42, Lance Stroll takes P6 from Gasly. On the next lap, a mistake from Leclerc promotes Pérez, which is second. On the same lap, Oscar Piastri, fourth, is forced to pit again to swap for mediums, as until that moment he had used only the hard compound. Gasly suffers a sudden drop in tyre performance, and must yield four positions, going from P6 to P10. Three laps to go and Lewis Hamilton takes P8 from Alonso. On the last lap, Leclerc takes Pérez’ slipstream and with a huge move, takes P2 back. Max Verstappen wins his 53rd Gran Prix of his carees, the 6th following one and the 18th of the season, after serving the five-seconds penalty. The three-times world champion equals Sebastian Vettel’s victories, at the third place of the all-times ranking. For the Red Bull Racing this is the 20th victory of the championship, the 6th following one and the number 112 of their own story. For Verstappen and the Anglo-Austrian team this is the first success at the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Leclerc, P2, obtains the 29th podium of his career and the fifth of the season. Pérez is third. The Mexican closes the drivers’ standings in P2, the best result of his career.
For Pérez this is the first podium of the season from the last Red Bull Racing’s one-two at the Italy Grand Prix. Ocon finishes P4 after starting P16. Stroll finishes fifth after starting nineteenth. With his sixth place, Sainz Jr. passes Norris and Alonso in the general ranking, taking P4. Hamilton is seventh and closes third in the drivers’ championship for the first time in his career. He has only a race to avoid the second following season without victories. Russell, fourth at the end, in P8 due to the five-seconds penalty for the crash with Verstappen. Alonso closes ninth, while Piastri tenth, obtaining the second fastest lap of his career and the additional point.
It's great to be here in Las Vegas, the penultimate race of the season. This race is of course a massive unknown for everyone, we don't know what to expect but we'll approach it like we do any other weekend. We of course don't have the historical data to look at and compare so there will be a lot to learn. The temperatures will also be very low on the track at night so it will be interesting to see how the RB19 performs in these conditions. I'm looking forward to racing down the strip too, that will look really cool.
Vegas is going to be a crazy race! You can already see the whole city has been taken over by Formula One and it’s going be very unique racing around the streets of Vegas. I already had a taste of it when the Team ran the RB7 here last year to launch the race and it was strange having been here as a tourist to be driving down the Strip in an F1 car. Vegas will also present some challenges to us, the track will be cold and the car will run a lot differently than usual due to the temperatures. It’s something we all need to overcome though and we have been working hard as a Team behind the scenes on the set up and prep required to make this weekend a successful one. For me I want to secure second in the Championship - it would be a fun place to do it.
Charles Leclerc is overall satisfied with his performance. He was in the lead at a certain point and at the end enjoyed an entertaining battle against his competitor Max Verstappen:
"I didn’t leave anything on the table today and the team executed the race perfectly, so I am satisfied with our performance. Unfortunately, we had just pitted 5 laps before the Safety Car and I struggled to get our used Hards back up to temperature at the restart. That’s where Max (Verstappen) and Checo gained an advantage on fresh tyres and unfortunately, that cost us the win. That said, it was an exciting race with really good battles and a lot of adrenaline. I’m glad that the weekend came together well and that the inaugural Grand Prix in Las Vegas was exciting for drivers and fans. I look forward to coming back next year".
Carlos Sainz Jr. had some issues with his car but looks forward to race in Abu Dhabi next weekend:
"It's been a good weekend for the team even though it was a tough race for me. We struggled with engine temperatures because we were racing in the middle of the pack and it was difficult to make up positions quickly. However, we nailed the strategy switching to a two-stop and the second part of the race was better, making up a few places to finish P6. It was a case of damage limitation after the penalty and scoring very important points for the Constructors’ championship. I can't wait to race in Abu Dhabi next week. The fight for second is still on and we'll do everything we can to take it".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, describes this race as one of the best of this season:
"This first race in Las Vegas delivered the show that everybody was expecting, so well done to Formula 1 as this was one of the best races of the season. From our side, there were several positives aspects, even if it wasn’t a straightforward race with Safety Cars, thrilling duels and amazing overtakes. We scored good points and were not far off a win with Charles who would have deserved that result. I think we overtook a Red Bull three times in the race and our performance was good with both cars considering Carlos staged a great comeback after what had been a tough weekend with what happened in FP1, the penalty and the spin at the start. With Charles we had put everything in place to bring home the win as we had looked after the tyres at the beginning and then we overtook Max on track. The Safety Car didn’t help him, as he struggled with graining after the restart but was able to manage it and in the closing stages, he was again very competitive, to the point of overtaking Perez for P2. I think Charles delivered one of the best drives of his career today, while Carlos also had a very strong second part of the race. We must keep the momentum going into Abu Dhabi, both drivers are doing a fantastic job and I believe we can catch Mercedes in Abu Dhabi. We won in Singapore when Red Bull was off the pace but this time we were fighting them right up to the final corner".
Lewis Hamilton admits that this time it was hard to extract all the performance from his W14:
"It was a really challenging race. I started on the Hard tyre, which was tricky in the beginning. I had a big hit from Sainz into turn one and was then trying not to hit other cars ahead of me. I fell back several places. After that, I was focused on making my way back through the pack and I was feeling great. The tyres were feeling good, and the pace was strong. I went up the inside of Piastri and I am not sure exactly what happened. I felt a big hit from behind, but I think it was a racing incident. I didn't have a puncture immediately and as I passed the pit entry, I felt the rear moving. I had to do a whole slow lap on it. I was grateful that I was able to still come back from re-joining in last to score some points. There are strengths in our car but sometimes it's hard to extract all the performance from it. That is what happened in Qualifying yesterday but I am pleased we were able to show our pace in the race. I am also grateful that the race was exciting. I wasn't expecting the track to be so great but there was lots of racing and overtaking opportunities. For all those who were so negative about the weekend, I think Las Vegas proved them wrong".
George Russell admits his faults:
"Today was on me; I simply didn't see Verstappen. He was totally in the blind spot, and we made contact; it was completely my fault. We knew they were much quicker than us and I was happy to concede the position. I knew our fight wasn't with Verstappen and tyre management was more important. It was a real shame as we were on course for a podium. It changed the dynamic of the race too with the Safety Car. It feels like we've thrown another one away today and I am really disappointed right now. It is the story of our season. There are positives we can take into Abu Dhabi. We were in the fight for second on the road today, but we will have to put in a strong showing in the final race to claim P2 in the Constructors' Championship".
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, says that they had a good pace but the result obtained was not proportional to it:
"It's frustrating to say but today was another example of a Grand Prix where we've had good pace and not got the result that pace has deserved. Once George was given the five-second time penalty, it was pretty much game over for him in terms of the podium. He definitely had the speed to challenge those at the front, maybe not Verstappen, but possibly Leclerc and Perez. It is what it is though. Lewis also had contact, twice in fact, with neither his fault. He was starting further back on the grid but as others around him showed, there was still a good result up for grabs. His pace was strong throughout, but those two incidents cost him today. We now need to refocus ahead of Abu Dhabi. It's a tight battle in the Constructors' Championship and we hope to be able to deliver a strong result there".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, is not satisfied, even if this was not the worst race of this season:
"There wasn't anything that went our way tonight. Sainz made contact with Lewis at the start which cost him a number of positions. We then had a puncture with Lewis after contact with Piastri and didn't have enough time to react and box him before he went past the pits. Finally, George got a penalty after contact with Max. Overall, those three incidents contributed to a frustrating race for us this evening. Our list of positives isn't a long one, but it was at least encouraging that the car had good pace. We weren't as good at controlling the graining on the Medium tyre as Ferrari, so we need to look into that. However, the pace on the Hard tyre was strong so as bad as this race was, it wasn't anything like as painful as Brazil where we were just plain slow. It's going to be an exciting battle with Ferrari for P2 in the Constructor's Championship in Abu Dhabi. We'll use the next few days to prepare for that. The points gap is small enough that it will, in all likelihood, come down to who scores the most next Sunday. Everything to play for".
Oscar Piastri thinks they deserved a bit more:
"P10 and fastest lap, it felt like we kinda deserved a bit more from that race. The pace was good. In the end, it didn't make too much difference. We were caught out by starting on the Hard in that kind of position when the Safety Car came out. We'll take the positives, a lot better than yesterday and the pace in the car is still pretty good".
Lando Norris hit the wall during the first stages of the race. He looks forward to the next and final stop:
"An unfortunate end to our Las Vegas GP weekend. I just bottomed out on the restart, lost the rear and hit the wall. Not the way we wanted the weekend to end, especially considering the pace looked promising on Oscar's side. Big thanks go to the medical staff for checking me over, and to the team for the work they'll now put in on the car. One week to reset and go again for the season finale in Abu Dhabi".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, wants to think about the next race, which will be held at a circuit more favourable for their car:
"First of all, the most important thing today is that Lando is in good condition after what looked like a scary accident in a very fast section of this circuit. Today, the car had strong pace. Oscar managed to recover from P18 into the points in what could have been a much stronger result were it not for the need to add a stop at the end after his earlier puncture. Despite this, he recovered to P10 and took the extra point for fastest lap. Two points isn't many compared to those we have scored in recent weeks but they're important in our battle for fourth in Constructors' Championship. It's been a tricky weekend in Vegas. We now regroup, rest when we can, and prepare to go again in the season finale. We're looking forward to a much smoother weekend in Abu Dhabi on a circuit that should be more favourable to our car".
Fernando Alonso is happy to come back home with points:
"I am happy to come away from this race weekend with some points. Especially since I was facing the wrong way after the incident at Turn One at the race start. We made the most of the Safety Car and then gained some places back. Overall, I thought the racing was fun tonight and there were some great battles on track. There was quite a lot of graining and low levels of grip, but as a sport we will take a lot of learnings for racing in Las Vegas next year. We head to Abu Dhabi and will give it our all in the battle for fourth position in the Constructors' Championship".
Alex Albon had a difficult race:
"I suffered quite badly from graining today; it was difficult for us and the Safety Car didn't help with most getting a pitstop with little consequence. It's one of those races that we'll need to review after as I thought we were managing quite well but after the Safety Car in the middle of the race, I was racing everyone on old tyres. I could just about manage my own race, but I had to push a bit more and it creates this cycle which is difficult to manage. There are some positives to take from this weekend, so it's not all bad but obviously a bit frustrating to walk away without points. We'll continue this fight for P7 to the very end".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, analyzes the tyres’ behavior and the teams’ strategies during this race day:
"That was 90 action-packed and spectacular minutes of racing which must have pleased all the spectators here in Las Vegas tonight and those watching on television or on-line. Overtaking, collisions, safety cars, mistakes and great feats of driving: the best of what this sport has to offer was all there condensed into 50 laps. It was the best possible advert for Formula 1 in the United States, a perfect combination of the racing side and the show, as exemplified in the prize giving ceremony. Coming onto the technical summary of the evening, we saw that our predictions prior to the race in terms of strategy were proved right: there wasn't much difference between a one-stop and a two-stop. The Hard proved to be the most effective race tyre, even if it suffered a bit from graining. The Medium, chosen for the start by three quarters of the field, behaved reasonably well, although it needed to be treated a bit more carefully, especially in the early stages. In fact, even those fighting hard for the win, like Leclerc, were able to extend the first stint almost to half distance. The Soft, used only by Stroll and Tsunoda for the start, delivered a nice advantage off the line, but was clearly less competitive over a long distance. Again today, we saw how track conditions had reset due to it being reopened to normal traffic overnight, which made cleaning up the graining on the tyre surface more difficult".
The Max Verstappen show continued with aplomb in Las Vegas, the Red Bull racer overcoming a five-second time penalty and dropping from the lead to fifth to secure a trio of wins in the United States this year. Now there is just one more race until the end of the 2023 Formula 1 season, with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit. Max Verstappen, this year’s world champion, has won 16 of the last 17 events, and 18 in total this year, so everyone wonders if he is going to win the last race too. His teammate Sergio Perez has now secured the second place in the drivers’ championship, with the gap to third-placed Lewis Hamilton now standing at 42 points. This means that Red Bull have secured a one-two finish in the drivers’ rankings for the first time in their history. Lando Norris is now sixth in the drivers’ championship, but is still involved in the fight for fourth, together with Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso. The latter’s team, Aston Martin, hope for P4 in the constructors’ championship, as now they are just 11 points behind McLaren. Bad news for Mercedes, as Hamilton lost out to Perez in the drivers’ championship and their lead over Ferrari in the fight for P2 in the constructors’ has now slashed to only four points.