F1i's Driver Ratings for the 2023 Las Vegas GP

Charles Leclerc (Pole, P2, 18 pts): 9.5/10
Ferrari was looking in strong form from the very first moment in Las Vegas. While Carlos Sainz was unlucky to be taken out with extreme prejudice by a loose water valve cover at the start of FP1, Leclerc was already sitting top of the timesheets. He proved the point again in the delayed and extended second session. Neither Leclerc and Sainz bothered with flying laps in final practice, keeping their powder dry for qualifying and duly delivering a Ferrari 1-2 at the end of Q3. However, a ten place grid drop for Sainz meant that Leclerc would be alone at the start of the race and exposed to a sweeping move from Max Verstappen, although the Dutch driver picked up a five second penalty for taking advantage of going off track in the process. An early stop from the Red Bull promoted Leclerc back to the lead before his own stop, but by now Sergio Perez was a factor in the battle as well. Neither Leclerc nor Perez could do anything about Verstappen recovering his way past them both to take the win, but their battle over second produced three of the best overtaking moves of the season. It was one such move on the final lap taking Perez by surprise that secured Leclerc P2, realistically the very best he could possibly achieve this weekend.


Max Verstappen (P1, 25 pts): 9/10
Wow, was Max Verstappen in a bad mood about racing in Vegas coming into the weekend or what? There must have been discussions behind the scenes to get him to cheer up and not bad-mouth Formula 1's big new prestige event. His dissatisfaction manifested itself with an underwhelming sixth place in FP2 putting him unusually two places behind his Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez. He was then unable to match the pace of the two Ferrari drivers in qualifying, although Carlos Sainz' ten place grid drop meant he started the race from the front row anyway. No one had any doubt that it would take no time at all for Verstappen to take the lead, and so it was at turn 1 - although his move sweeping Leclerc wide at the first corner came with a five second penalty from the stewards that annoyed (but didn't surprise) Verstappen. It was just one of those things to overcome during the race, which he did so with fairly contemptuous ease. Along the way, Verstappen was also involved in another incident when he collided with George Russell, but in this case the stewards blamed and penalised the Mercedes driver. While the Red Bull was left with front wing damage, it seemed to do little to slow him up and by lap 37 he was back in the lead and pulling away. And suddenly, like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Day, Verstappen was completely over his early grumpiness and cheerfully singing "Viva Las Vegas" at the top of his lungs. Suddenly, he's a fan of the place!