What the teams said – Race Day in Las Vegas
Verstappen started on the dirty side of the grid, but had a surprisingly good launch and got his nose in front into Turn 1. But he ran wide, pushing Leclerc wide too and picked up a penalty as a result. He served that at his first pit stop having just lost the lead on merit moments before he came in, which dropped him down the order. But he fought his way back up, pitted under the second Safety Car for fresh rubber – that Safety Car caused by a collision between the Dutchman and Russell which damaged Verstappen’s front wing.
But despite all of that, he managed to overtake both Perez and Leclerc to take the lead late on and win for the 18th time this season. As for Perez, he had damage from the starting corner chaos and had to pit for a new front wing. He worked his way all the way up to second, got lucky with the timing of the Safety Car and was right in the mix for the lead, before losing out for second on the very final lap.
Max Verstappen, 1st
“It was a tough one. I tried to go for it at the start, but I just ran out of grip. It put us a little bit on the back foot and I had to pass quite a few cars. You could clearly see the DRS was very powerful so, even when you took the lead, the car behind could still have an opportunity to come back at you which created quite a lot of good racing. Definitely a lot of fun.”
Sergio Perez, 3rd
“It was really difficult with the damage initially on the front wing. One by one things were going well, we had really strong pace on that first stint but I couldn’t pull away from Charles as my straight line speed was a little bit down. It was quite difficult with the gusts of wind, but luckily we kept it on track. I wasn’t expecting Charles at the end. Las Vegas did deliver.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
"That was a great race. The speeds around here are insane. Long fast straights, lots of slip stream and big breaking zones, Las Vegas was not short on excitement. Max revels in a race like that, even though he was on the end of a penalty, the way he came back, the way he fought, it was fantastic. I think he may have changed his mind about Vegas.
"Checo was brilliant today as well. Coming from a nose change at the back of the field, making his way up to eventually lead the race. He was so unlucky to lose out on second place but it was enough to see him secure second place in the Championship and we are extremely happy for him and the team. It was a fantastic drive from both of them and it sums up the year we have been having. So, Max’s 18th win, a 20th victory for us and our first P1 and P2 in the Drivers’ Championships. It really has been a fantastic year. One more race to go and we certainly won’t be letting our foot off the gas just yet."
Leclerc was pushed wide into Turn 1 by Verstappen, but after running second in the early stages he managed to overtake the Red Bull on merit. He was kind to his tyres, extended his first stint and looked to be on for the win. But the timing of the second Safety Car cost him, as it enabled his rivals to pit for a free stop for fresh rubber. The two Red Bulls closed him down and both got past, although Leclerc fought back superbly to launch a move on the final lap and catch Perez napping. As for Sainz, he hit Hamilton at the start which spun him around. Down the back of the field, he did well to recover back through the field and into the points.
Charles Leclerc, 2nd
"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 (Perez) 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, 6th
"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!"
Fred Vasseur, Team Principal
"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."
Mixed fortunes for the Alpine team. Gasly started fourth and ran right up with the leaders in the first stage of the race, while Ocon managed to pick his way through the opening corner chaos from down the field to make it to the fringes of the top 10. But they both stopped before the second Safety Car, and opted not to stop again. Running right up there as a result, Ocon’s tyres were three laps fresher than Gasly’s and that was enough to help him pick off his team mate for an incredible fourth. Gasly’s tyres then fell off badly, and he fell back through the order to come home an unlucky P11.
Esteban Ocon, 4th
“What a night in Las Vegas to be outside of the points to finishing in fourth place! I would like to say a massive congratulations to the team for this great result and amazing recovery. It was a chaotic start and we managed to keep it clean and gain eight positions on lap one. After that, we had to be patient, execute a clean race and managing the tyres was really the key. I made some good overtakes along the way and to finish fourth at this amazing venue is really a great result, especially considering how I was left feeling after Qualifying. There is one more race to go in Abu Dhabi next week and we will aim to carry this momentum into the season finale”
Pierre Gasly, 11th
“It’s a disappointing outcome on my side of the garage to go from fourth on the grid to outside of the points in eleventh place. There are many things for us to review as that is not what we set out to achieve today. It was a good start under tricky conditions, the first stint was fairly well managed and we were comfortably in that top four mix. As soon as we put the Hard tyre on, we just seemed to struggle, the tyres grained and the whole second stint was a challenge just to get to the end. It was a frustrating night and it’s a pity for us. That said, it’s been a very good weekend for the team with fourth place in Qualifying and then Esteban’s fourth place in the Race. We will do our analysis and come back next weekend for the season finale in Abu Dhabi ready to end the season as best as we can.”
Bruno Famin, Interim Team Principal
“Overall, it’s been an encouraging weekend for the team in Las Vegas. While yesterday in Qualifying belonged to Pierre after a brilliant single lap effort, today, it was about Esteban who drove superbly to rise from sixteenth to fourth to score 12 points. He did well to avoid the chaos at the start and then pieced together two well managed stints to look after the tyres well and maintain competitive pace to the end. For Pierre, we have some things to assess. As a team we will carefully analyse this weekend’s performance – better than we anticipated – before heading to Abu Dhabi for the final race next weekend.”
Stroll gambled on the softs at the start and it worked, as he jumped from P19 on the grid up into the top 10. Sensibly opting to bin those under the early Safety Car, the Canadian kept his race clean from there to claim back-to-back fifth place finishes. As for Alonso, he spun at the start all by himself after a great getaway, just finding no grip whatsoever into Turn 1. That relegated him to the back of the field but despite several on-track battles with his fellow Spaniard Sainz, he managed to also climb back into the top 10.
Fernando Alonso, 9th
"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."
Lance Stroll, 5th
"That was a fun race! I gained 10 positions in the first corner with a lot of other drivers going wide, moving up from P19 to P9, so it immediately felt like it was all to play for. From that point, we were on the front foot and attacking throughout the race with a quick car. We made some good strategy calls, pitting under both Safety Cars, and then I was able to pass a few cars into Turn One to secure P5. It was a great track to race at and I’m pleased we were able to put on a good show for the fans."
Mike Krack, Team Principal
"I think Las Vegas truly delivered on the hype with a very entertaining race this evening. Aston Martin certainly played its part in putting on a great show for the fans and both Lance and Fernando were in the thick of some great battles. We went into the race with a good understanding of the tyres and the strategy team made excellent calls today. Full credit to Lance to recover from the back of the grid to take two consecutive fifth places. He had a very strong race and made the most of an early switch to the Hard tyres to secure good track position. From there, he delivered one of his best races of the year with strong pace and important overtakes. Fernando recovered well from the opening lap incident to score a couple of important points too. I thought the circuit produced some really good racing today, alongside all the spectacle – so well done to everybody involved in delivering this Grand Prix.”
Russell was running third initially but lost a few places through the initial pit stop periods, with those who pitted under the first Safety Car able to capitalise on the second Safety Car. He found himself fighting with Verstappen on merit but didn’t see the Dutchman in his blind spot and they made contact, which earned Russell a time penalty. He fought back to fourth at the flag, overtaking Ocon on the final lap – only for those five seconds to drop him to eighth. As for Hamilton, he was hot by Sainz at the start, but still managed to fight back into the top 10. But later on, he made contact with Piastri, losing over 40s as he limped the whole way round with a puncture. For a second time in the race, he drove well to recover back into the top 10.
Lewis Hamilton, 7th
“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 1 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, 8th
“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, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“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, Trackside Engineering Director
“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 constructors’ 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!”
Norris had the biggest moment of the night, losing control and spinning into the walls, the momentum then carrying his McLaren down the straight and into the barriers at the end of the Turn 12 run off area. It was a heavy hit, and although he radioed to say he was okay, he was sent to the local hospital for checks. That left Piastri to fly the flag for the team, which he did with aplomb. But having started on the hards, he stopped for more hards after contact with Hamilton just before the Safety Car.
With the field then bunched up and the Aussie still needing to run the mediums, he left his second stop as late as possible but there was no more drama to bring out another Safety Car. He dropped from fourth to P11 – although on fresh rubber he managed to pick off Gasly late on for a consolation point and the bonus point for fastest lap.
Lando Norris, DNF
“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.”
Oscar Piastri, 10th
“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.”
Andrea Stella, Team Principal
“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.”
Both cars made great starts, and were very lucky not to be hit by the spinning Alonso into Turn 1. They held station from there, but Sargeant’s tyres began to go off and that made him drop like a stone through the field – not helped by a period of lifting and coasting. Albon stayed competitive through the first stint, but he too began to suffer from overheating rear tyres after opting for a one-stop strategy, and lost out to those on fresher rubber late on.
Alex Albon, 12th
"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."
Logan Sargeant, 16th
"Honestly, I don’t think there’s a lot we did wrong today. As a team we came around fifth & sixth after the first lap which was the goal. I felt like we managed that first stint relatively well but as expected the quicker cars started to come through towards the end of it. We went with our strategy and boxed for the Hard tyre with the plan to take us to the end. I don’t think we were in a bad position until that second Safety Car came out and it killed any chance we had. We didn’t really have any option to come in and fit a new set. Others did which put them at an advantage, but we tried to hold on until the end. As a weekend, we maximised our plan and executed well it was just a bit of bad fortune today."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"Disappointing not to score some points today but we weren’t quite able to manage the tyre graining well enough on the Hard tyre. Had we been able to control that graining a little better, then Alex could’ve had a final stint closer to that of Ocon, and a points finish would’ve been possible. The margins were fine today, and we didn’t quite get it right. Fortunately, we were still able to lead the pack of teams competing for 7th place in the Championship and so we preserve our advantage heading into Abu Dhabi.
"Racing in Las Vegas has been a new and exciting challenge that has pushed the team, drivers and cars to new limits. We dealt with many things very well this weekend but couldn’t quite put it all together today."
Magnussen ran in the top 10 in the early stages, managing to just about avoid all the spinning cars at the start. But he soon began to run out of tyre life after suffering graining, and started falling back as a result before getting caught in traffic. The Dane did at least see the chequered flag which was more than his team mate, Hulkenberg parking up late on down an escape road with a sudden loss of power.
Nico Hulkenberg, DNF
“Something happened and I lost power, so we’ll look into it. I thought race pace wasn’t too bad actually, I had a good start but with the accident in Turn 1 I had to go wide around the outside and lost a lot of places, so then was behind already. After that, I felt pretty comfortable in the car, and I felt we had more pace but there was always traffic and for graining protection you couldn’t push as much as you wanted, so that was limiting. All in all, I would say it was one of the better races though.”
Kevin Magnussen, 13th
“I feel like we had the degradation and pace to score points, but we didn’t so I need to review it and see how we could’ve done better. It feels like we had good degradation for once and pace in the race, even at the end of the stints. There was lots of track evolution throughout the race, which was fine and part of the challenge. I’ve enjoyed it.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“Both drivers fought hard today to get the best out of the car, and I think they did, and we stayed in front of our normal opponents. We couldn’t get close to the big guys and both cars got stuck behind a Williams – they’re very fast down the straights – so we couldn’t get through. For Nico, unfortunately something happened with the engine and Kevin came home P13. I don’t think we did anything wrong.”
Not to be for AlphaTauri, who couldn’t get either car involved in the thick of the action. Tsunoda was struggling with a gearbox issue for much of the race, but his chances weren’t helped by a soft tyre start. Although that bought him a handful of places, the team left him out too long after those tyres went off, and he lost more places than he gained. As for Ricciardo, he managed to avoid contact at the start, but just didn’t have the pace to compete with those around him.
Daniel Ricciardo, 14th
“I was coming into the race optimistic. We knew we’d struggle with the race start and restarts today because we missed something here this weekend regarding tyres and getting them to work on this slippery surface when it’s cold and they’re new. We thought we could get them working after a couple of laps and get back onto the pack, but we never really got there. It’s not an excuse, it’s just something we lacked and struggled with this weekend and something we’ll be looking into in our post-race analysis. There were a few cars fading at the end of the race, so we had a little more pace than them, but we still weren’t a top 10 car. We’re racing again next week at a medium downforce circuit, so I’m optimistic going into it. It’s a quick turnaround and a different story, so the next couple of days are about resting and recovering.”
Yuki Tsunoda, DNF
“We split the setup between our two cars and gambled a little with my car, but it didn’t work in the end. I had a clean start today and was happy I kept out of trouble, which allowed us to gain quite a few positions, but unfortunately, we didn’t have the pace to finish in the top 10. We’re happy we challenged ourselves because we knew we’d struggle with our pace, so we had to try something, and I liked the challenge. Today, it didn’t pay off, but in the end, it didn't matter as we had to retire my car. Looking ahead to Abu Dhabi, we’ll still aim to score points. Anything can happen, so we’ll try our best.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
"It was a difficult race tonight with front tyre graining affecting both cars massively until the final stints, when the situation improved, and we were able to extract a slightly more representative pace from the car.
"With Yuki starting last, we gambled with the soft tyre for the race start, and initially, this worked quite well, helping him move forward to P12. However, soon after the Virtual Safety Car, the front tyre graining dramatically worsened, and we were forced to box earlier than ideal. We struggled with similar graining issues for the remainder of the race, which required quite some management. Additionally, a suspected Power Unit issue meant we had to retire the car towards the end of the race.
"Daniel's race was also affected by graining in the first stint, but some adjustments at the stop and a move to the hard compound tyre meant the graining was under control. Once the tyres were suitably far into the working range, Daniel was able to extract some better performance in the second half of the race.
"Summing up the weekend, it's frustrating not being able to get more on top of the setup requirements of this circuit and extract more performance from our car. However, tonight's race has highlighted in detail the areas of setup we need to review, and fortunately for us, Williams has not scored points, so the fight for seventh in the Constructors' Championship moves to the final race in Abu Dhabi. Theoretically, the last track of the year should suit our package better than here, so everyone's now fully focused on giving both our drivers a better car to maximise our chances of achieving this next weekend."
Alfa split strategies, with Bottas starting on mediums and Zhou on the hards. But the Finn’s race was compromised from word go as he was hit by a spinning Alonso at the first corner, before Perez hit his rear for good measure forcing an immediate pit stop. Zhou one-stopped on his way to the chequered flag, but didn’t have the pace to compete for the top 10.
Valtteri Bottas, 17th
“I started in a very strong position but, unfortunately, my race was pretty much ruined at the first corner. After the contact with Fernando [Alonso], I got hit on the rear end, damaging my diffuser and compromising any chance to progress and recover the positions I had lost. It was a long race after that, with lack of pace and of grip as well. Obviously, it was really disappointing, especially as we were confident we could have had a good result today, and never got the chance to show our true performance. As a positive from the weekend, our one-lap pace definitely improved, which allowed us to get into Q3 yesterday. None of our direct competitors brought back points, which leaves things still open as we head to Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season: we’ll be giving it all to make it back into the top ten and try to finish the season well.”
Zhou Guanyu, 15th
“The race was quite fun for me tonight, with some good battles and good moves, even though in the end we didn’t get any points. I had to take evasive action at the start, so I couldn’t really take advantage of the chaos ahead of me, and we chose to pit when the Safety Car came in. That meant having to do 30 laps on medium tyres: the strategy worked well and allowed me to make up a few places and get into a battle with Lewis [Hamilton] and Fernando [Alonso] but, with no further chances to pit, I was exposed in the final ten laps: when the tyres were over, my laptimes started dropping off and I ended up 15th. That’s how we ended there: starting where we did, however, in 17th, we didn’t have a lot of chances to score points, but at least we had some fun battling. Now, let’s focus on Abu Dhabi: it is the final race of the season, and we’re determined to have a good weekend.”
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative
“It is clear that, unfortunately, this is not our season. Tonight, we had a strong grid position with Valtteri in P7, but that was nullified at the first corner already, as Alonso spun in front of him: Valtteri had nowhere to go, and was also hit from behind by Perez, suffering heavy damage to the floor and diffuser. We saw a loss of more than 20 points of downforce, and that made the car nearly undriveable: Valtteri still brought it home, but it wasn’t possible to salvage a good result. It’s a shame as we say, earlier in the weekend, that his race pace was very good, especially with the hard compound. We chose a reverse strategy for Zhou, starting on hards and moving on to mediums: the early Safety Car did not help, but we noticed that in the end the pace we had was not enough for him to finish in the points. At least, our direct competitors didn’t score either: we head to Abu Dhabi with one final chance to get points and finish the season on a positive note.”
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director
"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."