He leaves nothing. For the eighteenth time of the season, Max Verstappen won in this 2023 Formula 1 season. The Batavian won the first GP in history in Las Vegas, despite a penalty, and signs a 53rd career victory . Charles Leclerc finished second with his Ferrari while Sergio Perez completed the podium. Fourth, Esteban Ocon shone with his Alpine.
Leclerc on pole with Verstappen at his side, the start was expected and kept its promises. The Batavian managed his takeoff better and dived at the first turn, taking Leclerc wide, to take the lead. Behind, there were multiple contacts with a spin from Fernando Alonso or a broken front wing for Sergio Perez, plunged to the back of the grid. Enough to cause a virtual safety car then a safety car on lap 4 after Lando Norris' crash.
Meanwhile, Max Verstappen was penalized five seconds for his first-corner maneuver and was unable to get away from a fast Leclerc. So fast in fact that he even passed Verstappen on lap 16. The moment chosen by the Dutchman to make his first stop and pay his penalty.
In front, Leclerc then managed his lead over Perez who had stopped at the start of the race. Verstappen was navigating the pack and was 5 seconds behind after Leclerc stopped on lap 21. He was even hit by George Russell, without any real damage. But the race would change on lap 29 after the intervention of a second safety car. Then in the lead, Perez dove into the pits, imitated by Verstappen, Russell, Sainz and many others.
Leclerc then took the lead again with Perez, Ocon, Gasly and Verstappen hot on his heels. Quickly, the fight would involve only three drivers: Leclerc, Perez and Verstappen. Last fifteen animated rounds. Verstappen first passed Perez on lap 36 then Leclerc on lap 37 to never let go of the lead until the finish. Then, the battle intensified between Leclerc and Perez, for a long time to the advantage of the Mexican who ended up being surprised on the brakes in the last lap by the Monegasque, a convincing second.
Behind, Esteban Ocon, 16th on the grid, shone with a magnificent fourth place at the finish after a serious race and an impressive top speed from the Alpine. No points, however, for Pierre Gasly, who fought for a long time with his teammate, who suffered at the end of the race with his tires and finished 11th. Now head to Abu Dhabi next weekend for the final race of the year.
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