Las Vegas Grand Prix: Hit or miss? The verdict is in on F1’s huge showpiece race

The Las Vegas sphere shines down on the Las Vegas Grand Prix

Las Vegas Grand Prix: A success or failure?

Formula 1’s return to Las Vegas produced arguably the Grand Prix of the season, but it came after a black-eyed false start on Thursday.

Max Verstappen came out on top in a three-way fight for the victory, crossing the line just two seconds ahead of Charles Leclerc with Sergio Perez a mere 0.171s further back.

But did Las Vegas genuinely dish out a “Viva Formula 1”? We gathered some of our bleary-eyed writers for their thoughts…

Las Vegas Grand Prix: Was it a hit or was it a miss?

Michelle: Never mind Viva Las Vegas, this weekend Formula 1 should be singing Viva Max Verstappen because if it wasn’t for his impetuous shove on Charles Leclerc at Turn 1, Formula 1’s return to Sin City would probably have delivered yet another straight forward victory for the reigning World Champion.

But because Max had a brain-fade moment, and his teammate Sergio Perez a broken wing in the chaos that played out behind the leaders, Las Vegas delivered the race of the season.

It led to a late-race three-way fight for the victory, something we haven’t seen this season, while further back the power of the DRS meant there was plenty of overtaking.

None of it, though, can take away from the fumbles that were made from start to finish. Fans were treated with disrespect on Thursday night having waited hours for a delayed FP2, Carlos Sainz was handed an unjust penalty, and Verstappen got a get-out-of-jail-free card with his in-race penalty.

So yes the race was exciting, but as the saying goes, ‘one swallow does not a summer make’. Let’s see what happens next year.

Mark: My backside may hurt from sitting on the Las Vegas Grand Prix fence but I’m not prepared to jump down on either side just yet. I’d be leaning more towards miss, though, if you threatened to push me.

There was always bound to be teething problems at a first race week at such an iconic location, but it does feel like F1 just said ‘yes’ to setting up their Las Vegas camp first and deal with any and all problems later.

Max Verstappen’s “99% show and 1% sporting event” rang in the ears of many, mine included, and Thursday’s practice fiasco (and even the track layout itself for that matter) gave some solid evidence those ratios being correct.

I don’t think these cars are built for this kind of track layout in these sort of conditions but, then again, I am a traditional F1 fan who loves an old-school circuit. I’m clearly not the target audience for this race and, although tough to swallow, I will have to accept that F1 has new fans to attract and new markets to conquer.

Thomas: I have a similar outlook on F1 and its heritage as what Max Verstappen voiced coming into the weekend, meaning I came into the weekend with my opinion already fully formed. Why race in Las Vegas when there’s a perfectly good German Grand Prix not being held?

The weekend was all about marketing and exclamations of ‘Oh wow, we’re in LAS VEGAS’, and my email inbox pinged about twice a minute with yet another marketing announcement that teams and PR companies had clearly been sitting on specifically until this particular weekend rolled around.

It was all very hysterical and pompous, completely at odds with my overwhelming desire to see racing take place in an understated and dignified fashion – preferably deep in the rolling countryside somewhere rather than a designed-by-committee street circuit.

Aside from the mess that was Thursday, the weekend ended up being pretty entertaining overall – the race was a proper slow burner, aided by Verstappen’s faux pas and clash with George Russell. The last 15 laps were storming, with Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc, and Verstappen all getting turns at it – before the Dutch driver stamped his authority all over it.

So, while my heart wishes I could say it was a miss as it went against everything I hold dear about F1 – particularly due to it being yet another uninspiring street circuit, regardless of all the flashy lights – I’m going to say it was a hit.

But that’s down to this exact race – the drivers and the performance they put on, rather than any of the extraneous nonsense going on all around it. As an event, it’s clear the LVGP needs work – and the second year will show whether the lessons have been learned.

As an aside, there’s little to differentiate Las Vegas aesthetically from the Singapore and Saudi Arabian Grands Prix, and the amount of night races on the calendar is diminishing the once-unique feel they had.

As Mark said, traditional fans like myself are no longer the main target, meaning it’s time to accept the direction F1 is going in – or leave it behind. And there’s little chance of that (until the races are shortened due to attention spans or something like that!) recommended reading

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Henry: The viral clip going around of the cringeworthiness of Sergio Perez’s shouty introduction onto the grid felt in many ways like the perfect way to sum up the weekend.

Bombast, celebrity, glamour and huge excitement were all thrust upon people who were mostly nonplussed or just wanted to get on with the job at hand, behind the wheel at least.

As some of my colleagues have pointed out, the gift voucher instead of a full ticket refund after Thursday night was the incorrect move and the desperation for a good race to overshadow the false start was a gamble that paid off this time around. We’d be having a very different conversation if it ended up being a procession, so that counts in its favour.

At least there was substance to go with unprecedented amounts of ‘style’ being thrown at this weekend, and I partially agree with Lewis Hamilton’s “like Baku but better” summary of the circuit layout, with the final Turn 17 proving a beast at full speed.

I also find myself agreeing with Max Verstappen’s impassioned speech about the need for “passion and emotion” at historical races. Vegas didn’t seem to have that, though as with anything, there is time for Las Vegas to develop its own history in the sport.

I’ll join Mark on the fence for now. If the race itself was an 8/9 out of 10, everything else around it felt like a much lower score than that, based on how much the sport really, really went all-out on it.

It felt like too much, but then again, isn’t that what Las Vegas is all about as a place anyway?

Sam: Yes the race was exciting but it can’t expunge what came before. F1’s handling of the events of Thursday and indeed the whole build-up to the race have left a sour taste in the mouth of those who call the city home.

A $200 gift voucher is a poor apology for tickets that will have cost several times more of that and the disruption the race caused is going to make it hard to win some fans back.

The circuit proved it could produce excitement but if Vegas is going to be a success in the future, F1 must learn from their mistakes.

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