Las Vegas GP defies pre-race criticism to exceed expectations on and off the track
Max Verstappen, initially critical of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, ended up singing its praises as he clinched his 18th win of the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Despite disliking the excess and opulence, Verstappen, triumphed on the Las Vegas Strip, passing Charles Leclerc twice to maintain his season-long dominance. After repeated digs at the fledgling event, Verstappen celebrated his victory on the famed Las Vegas Strip in an Elvis-inspired firesuit.
The event, criticised for its emphasis on spectacle and entertainment, drew over 315,000 spectators, including celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Rihanna. Despite initial challenges, the race delivered excitement and entertainment, helping to salvage a tumultuous week for Formula 1 in Las Vegas and being labelled a neon extravaganza.
Rihanna stuns at the Las Vegas F1 Grand Prix.
— Pop Base (@PopBase) November 19, 2023
The circuit, initially slammed for its layout, received praise for providing a better race experience than many other tracks.
Max Verstappen’s victory, marked by a catchy ‘Viva Las Vegas’ celebration as he crossed the chequered flag waved by Justin Bieber, highlighted the success of an event that faced initial scepticism.
“I hope everyone enjoyed it, we definitely did. Excited to come back here next year and try to do something similar,” Verstappen said.
“It was a fun race. I enjoyed it.”
Podium finishers Verstappen, Leclerc and Sergio Perez were chauffeured in a limousine to a stage near the famed Bellagio hotel on the Vegas Strip.
“We’re heading straight to the nightclub,” Verstappen informed his fellow placegetters.
Let’s gooo guys!!! 💪 Another amazing result @redbullracing 👏
Had a lot of fun out there today, great racing! 🙌 See you next year Vegas 🎲🎰 pic.twitter.com/MGxLOoOhrq
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) November 19, 2023
The race, promoted by F1 and Liberty Media, overcame obstacles to deliver a memorable experience. Verstappen’s reversal from criticism to praise echoed the sentiments of many participants. The season’s third stop in the United States showcased the potential of the Las Vegas Grand Prix despite its controversial build-up.
Liberty had anticipated spending $500 million on its inaugural self-promoted grand prix, but speculation before Saturday night’s race suggested that the budget had been significantly exceeded. However, the economic impact was far greater, estimating a $1.2 billion injection for Las Vegas.
The entire event faced a crisis nine minutes into the first practice session on Thursday night when Carlos Sainz Jr. ran over a water drain valve cover, causing severe damage to his Ferrari. As a result, F1 had to close the 3.85-mile (6.2-kilometer) circuit for inspection.
Fans were required to vacate the premises at 1:30 a.m. on Friday morning after witnessing only nine minutes of track activity. Instead of issuing an apology, F1 opted to provide $200 credits to the LVGP merchandise store for ticket holders who had purchased access only for Thursday. A class-action lawsuit was filed against the Las Vegas Grand Prix on Friday.
This situation heightened the importance for F1 to deliver an impressive race on Saturday night. Despite Verstappen securing his sixth consecutive victory, the race turned out to be one of the most spirited of the season. The under-fire circuit received acclaim for its exciting racing dynamics.
Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, finishing seventh for Mercedes, remarked that the circuit “provided a better race than most of the tracks we go to.”
This up-and-coming status positions Las Vegas as a key player in the world of motorsports. The event’s ability to captivate participants and spectators alike, as well as generate excessive profit, sets a promising precedent for future editions.
— Brett Forrest (@brettforrest89) November 16, 2023