Red Bull did not need any luck as they hit the jackpot at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
The 2023 constructors’ championship titleholder sealed their first 1-2 in the drivers’ championship after Mexican driver Sergio Perez landed a P3 finish from P11.
Reigning world champion Max Verstappen first crossed the chequered flag waved by pop superstar Justin Bieber in the extravagant race meet in the entertainment capital of the world.
It had not been the smoothest ride for Verstappen as he was forced to serve a five-second penalty, a what seemed to be too kind for a punishment after forcing Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc on pole position off the race track in the opening lap to steal the race lead.
“Yeah, that’s fine. Send them my regards!” he said on the team radio after his team told him of the decision.
Then, he got in contact with Mercedes’ George Russell after the latter cut him on the apex into Turn 12 as Verstappen went for an overtake from the inside. Both cars sustained damages but were able to continue on the race.
Russell, admitting he did not see Verstappen, took responsibility for the collision. He was slapped with a five-second time penalty to bring him down to P8 from P4 in the final result.
Meanwhile, a P2 finish was almost within reach for Perez but a determined Leclerc was able to pull off a last-lap overtake to prevent another Red Bull 1-2 podium.
The battle for the top position between the Red Bull drivers and Leclerc had the fans on the edge of their seats during the last 15 laps of the grand prix.
Leclerc on Lap 35 did an overtake on Perez going into Turn 14 to steal the lead.
One lap later, Perez was overtaken by Verstappen to get the P2 position. Another lap later, the Dutchman was able to take the lead from Leclerc.
Lap 43 saw Perez overtaking Leclerc for P2 at Turn 12, but it was short-lived as Leclerc poured his last-ditch effort to snatch the second-best position during the last lap.
His mega overtakes had the fans voting for him as Driver of the Day.
“Nothing more we could have done. Shame for the safety car but I enjoyed this race,” he said in a social media post.
A little farther down the grid, Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz finished P6 after starting from P12 due to a much-criticized 10-place grid penalty. This, following his incident during the first free practice that involved a loose drain cover that damaged his engine, among others.
Sainz was also involved in the multi-car contact on Turn 1 that also included Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, and Alfa Romeo’s Valterri Bottas.
A crash also added to the Las Vegas drama as McLaren’s Lando Norris hit the barriers on Lap 4 which forced him to retire. His teammate Oscar Piastri meanwhile made it to the scoring field despite a late pit stop on Lap 44.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg also DNF due to power unit and gearbox issues, respectively.
The Abu Dhabi GP, this season’s last championship event, will take place on November 26.