Las Vegas, Nov 19

R

ed Bull driver Max Verstappen won on his debut at the Las Vegas Grand Prix as he claimed his 18th victory of the season, surviving a time penalty, a separate clash and multiple Safety Car periods.

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Verstappen’s race started with a bold move on pole-sitter Charles Leclerc into Turn 1 but the stewards decided that he forced his Ferrari rival off the track in doing so, meaning five seconds were added to his first pit stop.

Having lost a few positions after that stop, Verstappen then had to fight his way back through the field. A collision with Mercedes’ George Russell, which damaged his front wing, added another challenge to the mix.

However, following the Safety Car that was deployed in response and another visit to the pits for fresh tyres, Verstappen lit up the timing screen once more, passing both teammate Sergio Perez and Leclerc to win at the end of a dramatic race in the City of Lights.

Reflecting on his race after hopping out of the car, Verstappen said: “It was a tough one. I tried to go for it [with Leclerc] at the start. I think 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 back foot, I had to pass quite a few cars, then the Safety Car [came out] again. At that point already a lot was going on in the race. Once we had the message to the end we could go flat-out.

"You could clearly see with the DRS around here it was very powerful, so even when you would 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.”

While Verstappen triumphed, Perez missed out on making it a Red Bull one-two as Leclerc recovered from his own mistake to pounce during the final lap, meaning his Ferrari split the reigning world champions’ cars on the podium.

–IANS

Formula 1: Verstappen survives time penalty, multiple clashes to win his debut in Las Vegas GP

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