By: Sam Donsig
There were definite speedbumps, but in the end, the Las Vegas Grand Prix lived up to the hype presented by Liberty Media and Formula 1.
Still, a sour taste remains for some drivers and fans whose luck wasn’t as grand as others in Vegas.
The drama started with a loose drain cover in FP1, causing damage to Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr.’s car. The Spaniard had to replace engine components and received a grid penalty. Later, FP2 was shut down with fans being told to leave and receiving no refund, only getting a $200 merchandise voucher for their troubles. Safe to say, the first couple of days in Vegas were not well received by fans and the drivers.
However, the tables turned on Saturday as both qualifying and the race itself provided lots of on-track action and excitement for fans to be hopeful about next year. With 82 on-track overtakes and multiple lead changes throughout the 50 laps, there was some success. Fans have some hope for next year and some of the drivers’ tunes changed after the chequered flag.
Most notably, Max Verstappen, who was hyper-critical of the venue and the event up until the end of the race, bounced back. He is excited to come back next year, though winning the race might have a lot to do with that.
“It was a very good one…It was a fun race, I enjoyed it,” Verstappen said to reporters post-race.
Several other drivers also commented saying that they enjoyed the race and that it was a lot of fun. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was confident.
“I have enjoyed Las Vegas, and I’m looking forward to coming back next year,” Ocon told reporters post-race.
The fact of the matter is that when it mattered the most, Las Vegas delivered high-quality racing, which is what fans want to be the first priority at any venue. Several fans all felt the same about the track, with lots of people saying it looked like an upside-down pig. Regardless, the circuit allowed for lots of overtakes, close racing and high excitement levels for the majority of the 50 laps.
Although it was only the first year with the new circuit, I would say this race, with all the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas and the excitement it brings, could be a candidate to overtake Abu Dhabi as a season finale. Abu Dhabi has provided some amazing races in the past, 2012, 2014, and 2021 but the point is that in future years, regardless of whether the championship battle is close or not, ending the year off in Las Vegas might bode well for Liberty Media and the sport of Formula 1 as a whole.
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