The Dutch Max Verstappen (Red Bull) signed his 18th victory of the season (from 21 races) in Las Vegas by beating the Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and the Mexican Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) in a test where the Spaniard Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) collided at the exit and finished sixth and ninth, respectively.
The city of Las Vegas, characterized by its nightlife in casinos, also has it on the urban circuit and returns, 41 years later, to host the Formula 1 with a race full of overtaking, which made us forget the sewer problems where the Grand Prix started last Friday.
At the start, Verstappen took the first corner high and forced Leclerc, who had pole, on the way out, a maneuver that earns a 5-second penalty. In the first turn, the two Spaniards complicated their options with two spins as a result of poor grip due to low asphalt temperatures (-20 degrees Celsius).
Alonso reacted well in the first few meters, but when braking on the inside, the tires did not respond as expected; they widened, lost the back of the car, and spun. Crossing the track, the Finnish Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) collided with his front wing, and Pérez could not avoid two cars.
The incident caused all three to have to stop in the pits after the first lap. As did Carlos Sainz, who also took a long time entering turn 1 and touched the British Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).
Two exits from the ‘safety car’
Alonso, Sainz, and Pérez were relegated but regrouped after leaving the safety car for an accident involving British Lando Norris (McLaren) on lap 3.
The race lived up to its promise. Ease of overtaking length straight 1.9 kilometers Moreover, this time, the fight reached the first position.
Verstappen, accustomed, except for the Singapore GP, to dominate quickly, found himself in difficulties due to a five-second penalty and, above all, due to the wear of his tires.
On lap 16, Leclerc overtook him, and the Dutchman had to stop in the pits because of his long deterioration. He fulfilled the time penalty that made him start eleventh, in traffic and behind the British George Russell, who, when he tried to defend his place on lap 25, touched Max and caused the second safety car of the night to come out of Las Vegas.
That ended up helping Leclerc in his hunt, which he overtook on lap 37 of 50 at turn 14, where most of the overtaking was seen.
Finally, for the 18th time, out of 21, Max Verstappen won on Sunday. Checkered flag and the usual headline, but it does something different.
The World Cup ends next week in Abu Dhabi.