Max Verstappen won a thrilling 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix despite getting caught up in two incidents.
Verstappen took the lead into Turn 1 at the start with a late-braking move on pole-sitter, Charles Leclerc, which earned him a five-second time penalty at his first pit stop, and found himself as low as 11th but recovered to fifth when he collided with George Russell on Lap 25 for fourth.
Stewards controversially deemed Russell at fault for the incident whilst Verstappen sprinted away on a Safety Car restart to take victory with a race-winning overtake on Leclerc on Lap 37.
Leclerc finished second with a last lap overtake on Segio Perez who had spun at the opening corner but mounted a recovery drive to finish third and wrap up second in the championship.
Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll finished fourth and fifth ahead of Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri.
In the drivers’ standings, Perez has wrapped up a Red Bull one-two finish ahead of Hamilton whilst Sainz moved up to fourth on countback from Alonso in their scrap for fourth.
Across in the constructors’ standings, Ferrari reduced their deficit to second-placed Mercedes down to just four points heading into the season finale, whilst McLaren hold a 11-point lead over Aston Martin in a British scrap for fourth.
At lights out, Leclerc made a clean start from pole position but got forced wide into Turn One by a late-braking Verstappen, who subsequently refused to hand the lead back and received a five-second time penalty.
Further back, Alonso, Sainz and Valtteri Bottas spun at the first corner which caused chaos in the lower orders of the field, whilst Kevin Magnussen briefly claimed sixth from Logan Sargeant.
The Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was deployed at the end of the opening lap due to debris on track and ended at the start of Lap 3, but the Safety Car was soon deployed on that lap after Lando Norris spun out through Turns 11 and 12.
Such was the high-speed nature of his spin and subsequent impact into the barriers, Norris was sent to University Medical Center for further medical checks upon advice of the on-site medical centre, but was quickly cleared and discharged.
Some good news, team. 🧡
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) November 19, 2023
Perez and Alonso meanwhile was amongst a small group of drivers who pitted for the hard tyre under the VSC on Lap 2 and once racing resumed on Lap 7, they steadily climbed up the order as others pitted.
Up front, Verstappen refused to concede the lead until Leclerc reeled him in and passed him into Turn 14 on Lap 16, which forced the three-time champion to pit whilst Leclerc stayed out until the end of Lap 21 before he made his sole stop of the race.
Verstappen meanwhile found himself jumped by Russell in the pit stop phase but managed to pass the Bit for fourth with a controversial inside move at Turn 12 on Lap 25, which saw him brake late and initiated contact with Russell as he turned into the corner.
The debris from that collision forced the Safety Car to once again be deployed which forced several drivers to make their second stops early, whilst stewards adjudged Russell controversially at fault for the incident rather than Verstappen.
Racing resumed on Lap 29 with Leclerc in the lead but the Monegasque found himself passed by Perez on Lap 32 into Turn 14, but fought back on Lap 35 to retake the lead whilst Perez lost second to Verstappen a lap later.
Verstappen swiftly passed Leclerc on Lap 37 for the lead and sprinted away to a 18th Grand Prix win of the season, as Perez soon moved through into second on Lap 42 after Leclerc ran wide into Turn 12.
Leclerc though fought back and made a crucial last-lap pass on Perez at Turn 14 to deny Red Bull a one-two finish.
Verstappen’s triumph also saw Red Bull set a new record for most wins by a single team within one season, having taken 20 race wins – excluding sprint races.
Ocon meanwhile drove a well-executed race to finish fourth ahead of Stroll after the pair had started 16th and 19th on the grid respectively, with Sainz, Hamilton, Russell, Alonso and Piastri rounding out the top ten.
F1 now heads to Abu Dhabi across 24-26 November for the 2023 season finale.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||50||1h 29m 08.289|
|2||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||50||+ 2.070|
|3||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||50||+ 2.241|
|4||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||50||+ 18.665|
|5||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||50||+ 20.067|
|6||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||50||+ 20.834|
|7||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||50||+ 21.755|
|8||George Russell||Mercedes||50||+ 23.091|
|9||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||50||+ 25.964|
|10||Oscar Piastri||McLaren||50||+ 29.496|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Alpine||50||+ 34.270|
|12||Alex Albon||Williams||50||+ 43.398|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||50||+ 44.825|
|14||Daniel Ricciardo||AlphaTauri||50||+ 48.525|
|15||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||50||+ 50.162|
|16||Logan Sargeant||Williams||50||+ 50.882|
|17||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||50||+ 85.350|