RACE DEBRIEF

    It was a memorable weekend on the streets of Las Vegas as Max Verstappen overcame a penalty from the stewards and a fierce challenge from Charles Leclerc to seal his 18th win of the season. Both drivers make it into the top-10, but who else do the judges feel deserved to join them?

    How it works

    • Our five-judge panel assess each driver after every Grand Prix and score them out of 10 according to their performance across the weekend – taking machinery out of the equation

    • Our experts’ scores are then averaged out to produce a race score – with those scores then tallied up across the season on our overall Power Rankings Leaderboard (at the bottom of the page)

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    Leclerc was in truly inspired form this weekend as from the minute the lights turned green the Ferrari driver showed irresistible pace. He then took it to another level producing some stunning laps to take pole position.

    Unfortunately, the timing of the late Safety Car on race day dented his hopes of victory, but his final lap overtake on Sergio Perez for second place will live long in the memory. It was a drive worthy of a win from Leclerc, who will be hoping to achieve that feat in Abu Dhabi.

    READ MORE: Leclerc 'disappointed' to miss out on Las Vegas victory but insists P2 'was the best' Ferrari could do

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    No matter what is thrown at Verstappen these days he seems to always find a way to make sure that he is the first driver taking the chequered flag. Las Vegas was no different as he was forced to fight for that 18th victory of the year.

    He did not have the legs on Leclerc to take pole and was then given a five-second penalty for forcing his Ferrari rival off the track at the start. He overcame that – and damage to his front wing from his collision with George Russell – to win the race, expertly forcing his way through the field in the closing stages.

    READ MORE: Verstappen says charge through the field for Las Vegas GP win was ‘a lot of fun’

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    Friday night might not have gone to plan but there may not have been anybody happier in the early hours of Sunday morning than Ocon. The French driver once again found a way to extract the maximum from his Alpine to collect a good haul of points.

    He was outstanding from the minute the race started as he jumped up from 16th to eighth on Lap 1 and made steady progress through the race. He crossed the line in fifth but thanks to Russell’s penalty, he scored his best finish since his podium in Monaco.

    READ MORE: Ocon hails ‘amazing feeling’ after surging from P16 to P4 in Las Vegas as Gasly laments ‘pretty chaotic’ issue

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    We’ve been so used to seeing McLaren fighting at the sharp end of the field, so it was shock to plenty to see both drivers exit in Q1. Piastri started down in 18th but a fast start quickly saw him on the cusp of the top-10.

    He was magnificent, often going on off the racing line to pull off some stunning overtakes. It would have been interesting to see how his race would have panned out if not for the contact with Hamilton, but a couple of points for his efforts was well deserved as he also managed to set the fastest lap.

    READ MORE: Piastri hopeful for strong finish in Abu Dhabi after ‘better than expected’ pace in Las Vegas GP

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    The Red Bull driver has enjoyed a welcome return to form in recent races and it continued in Las Vegas as he made his way from the back of the field to the podium – his first top three Grand Prix finish since Monza back in September.

    It did not come easy as he was knocked out in Q2 before being caught up in the first lap melee that forced him to pit for a new front wing. He recovered and looked at one stage to be on course for another street circuit victory, but he just didn't quite have enough straight line speed to keep Leclerc and Verstappen behind.

    READ MORE: Perez reflects on 'difficult race' in Las Vegas after helping Red Bull secure maiden 1-2 in drivers' championship

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    It was a frustrating weekend for the Spaniard who showed outstanding pace to qualify second behind Leclerc. However, an unlucky 10-place grid drop put him on the backfoot, and his race was not helped by his start where he hit Hamilton at Turn 1.

    That contact forced him to pit for a new front wing and dropped him to the back of the field. But the Ferrari racer got his elbows out and made his way back into the points before finishing sixth – a result to be proud of even if he felt it could have been more.

    READ MORE: Sainz keen to 'forget' Las Vegas GP weekend after overcoming first lap collision to finish sixth

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    The last two races have seen Stroll recapture the form he showed in the early part of the season. It is now two fifth place finishes in a row but the Las Vegas result might just mean more than the one in Brazil given all he had to overcome over the weekend.

    The Aston Martin driver was handed a five-place grid drop so started 19th but found himself in ninth place by the end of the first lap. What was even more impressive was the pace he showed in closing stages to pull away from the chasing pack to finish fifth.

    READ MORE: Stroll praises ‘great recovery’ after rising to P5 from P19 in Las Vegas as Alonso celebrates double-points finish for Aston Martin

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    It was a case of what might have been for Gasly who at one stage was battling Russell for a spot on the podium only for those hopes to be quickly dented as he suffered from a huge amount of tyre degradation.

    But it was another excellent weekend from the Frenchman as he qualified fourth and seemed to be on course for a huge haul of points. But it just went away from him in the end as after running as high as third he wound up just outside the points.

    THE STRATEGIST: How did Ocon leap up to P4 from P16 in Las Vegas – and why did Gasly’s race go the other way?

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    Albon once again led the charge for Williams this weekend but unfortunately it didn't result in points in Las Vegas. He was outstanding in qualifying and when he started fifth many would have expected him to once again produce a strong top-10 drive.

    However, the Safety Car damaged those hopes as he finished the race on aging tyres. He did his best to keep the faster drivers behind it just wasn't enough as he came home in 12th despite a typically gritty drive.

    READ MORE: Williams drivers reveal crucial factor that ‘killed’ their chance of scoring points in Las Vegas

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    The rookie has come under a lot of pressure this year after a few costly mistakes, but he has found himself competing for points and having smoother weekends in recent races, and he continued that at his home race in Vegas.

    He drove extremely well and would have had hopes of scoring points when he made it into Q3 and lined up next to Albon in the race. But he also was unfortunately hampered by the same tyre issues and brought the car home in 16th.

    HINCH’S HEROES: Who makes James Hinchcliffe's list after the thriller in Las Vegas?

    Missing out

    The two Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both narrowly missed out on a place in this week’s top-10 despite their point scoring endeavours. Hamilton was extremely unlucky in the race as he recovered from a couple of collisions to finish seventh.

    Russell was brilliant in qualifying and lined up third for Saturday night's event but costly contact with Verstappen put him on the back foot – especially after he picked up a five-second penalty for his troubles. In the end it was P8 for the Briton, but it could have been more.

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