Verstappen sings the praises of Vegas after 'a lot of fun'

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium. 18.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Staley / XPB Images
© XPB 

Max Verstappen has been conspicuously critical of this weekend's Las Vegas Grand Prix as being more entertainment than sport, but it seems that the race itself managed to win him over to the charms of competing on the Strip.

Verstappen started on the front row alongside Charles Leclerc after Carlos Sainz was hit by a controversial penalty for taking new engine components following his damaging clash with a water valve cover at the start of FP1.

That put the Red Bull in prime position to attack Leclerc into the first corner of the race. he pulled off the pass but both cars ended up running wide, warning Verstappen a five second penalty for passing while off-track.

The extended first pit stop saw him drop down the order but there was little doubt that the RB19 had the pace to recover, and he finally blasted pass Leclerc to take back control on lap 37.

He later tried to slow down to try and give his team mate Sergio Perez a tow in an attempt to deliver a Red Bull 1-2, but the Ferrari managed a brilliant last lap lunge to snatch second on the final lap.

“It was a tough one," Verstappen told the media in post-race interviews. "I tried to go for it at the start. We both braked quite late, then I just ran out of grip and we ended up a bit wide, so the stewards gave me a penalty for that.

“Of course, that put us a little bit on the backfoot, I had to pass quite a few cars, then the safety car [was out] again. At the point there was already a lot going on in the race.

"The DRS around here it was very powerful," he pointed out. "Even when you could take the lead, if the guy behind would stay in the DRS, he would still have an opportunity to come back at you.

"I think it created quite a lot of good racing, so it was definitely a lot of fun," he added. "[Then] we had the message to go the end, so we could go flat-out."

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19 takes the chequered flag at the end of the race. 18.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

While fighting his way back to the lead, Verstappen clashed with Mercedes' George Russell with both cars suffering some damage in the process. Verstappen's front wing was looking distinctly worse for wear by the finish.

Asked why the team hadn't tried to replace it during a subsequent pit stop, Verstappen replied: “I think we were happy not to touch it because it looked already quite broken

"Of course the structure was fine, but it’s never ideal, let’s say it like that. There was always a bit more understeer, but luckily we could still win the race.”

Verstappen certainly seemed to have finally succumbed to the spirit of the Neon City, even belting out a bit of "Viva Las Vegas" on his way back to parc ferme after taking the chequered flag.

“A great crowd," he commented. "I hope everyone enjoyed it; we definitely did. I’m already excited to come back here next year and hopefully try to do something similar.”

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