November 19, 2023 - 9:11 pm
After almost two years of buildup and traffic shutdowns — and a loose manhole cover — the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix finally ran.
Charles Leclerc finished in second and Sergio Perez was third in one of the most entertaining races of the F1 season in front of 315,000 fans across the weekend at the Las Vegas Street Circuit.
Here are three takeaways from the Las Vegas Grand Prix:
Leclerc preaches patience
Leclerc is from Monaco, home to one of the most iconic Formula One races in the world.
The Monaco Grand Prix was part of the original Formula One schedule in 1950. It runs through the Monte Carlo neighborhood and along Port Hercules, right in the heart of the city.
Leclerc grew up watching the city work to accommodate the F1 race every year, and he empathizes with Las Vegas natives who have dealt with the shutdowns required for the racing series to come to Southern Nevada.
“It’s obviously very new to Vegas and the people of Vegas, so I can understand that it’s difficult to accept at first,” Leclerc said. “But I really hope they saw the benefit of so many people coming to the event.”
Leclerc said people in Monaco are used to the disruptions that come with the race every year. He hopes having some of the more permanent work being completed, like the pit building, will mean future Las Vegas races won’t require so much disruption for the city.
“It’s been a great first event, and I can’t wait to be back here next year,” he said.
Ocon, Stroll rise
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll had disappointing qualifying sessions.
Ocon started in 16th place after failing to escape the first round of qualifying when he almost made contact with Verstappen during his final flying lap. Stroll made it to the second session, but a five-place grid penalty for passing another driver during yellow flags in the final practice session meant he started in 19th.
The duo more than made up for their disappointing Friday outings during the race. Both took advantage of the chaos going into turn one to launch themselves further up the field. Ocon finished fourth, and Stroll took fifth in a productive day for both drivers.
“I enjoyed it, for sure,” Stroll said. “Nothing really to say. It was really fun to race.”
Difficult weekend for Sainz
Carlos Sainz Jr. and his Ferrari probably had the most challenging weekend.
The Spanish driver hit a loose manhole cover in the first practice, destroying his car. He was handed a 10-place grid penalty for taking on extra power unit parts to fix the damage and had to start in 12th despite being the second-fastest car in qualifying, just 0.044 seconds off his teammate Leclerc.
Sainz’s weekend didn’t get any better at the start of the race, as he spun after making contact with Lewis Hamilton’s Meredes. He was able to recover to finish in the points at sixth, but could only watch from a distance as the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez hunted down Leclerc in the front of the pack.
“Obviously regretting now not to be able to be up there fighting for the win, because it looked like this weekend the car was at least being able to do a podium,” Sainz said. “It would’ve been a fun race.”