2023 Las Vegas Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: Ultimately, the casinos still run this town. So, no matter how bad things got or how good things got over the weekend, the future of this event will all come down to how the casinos did not just during this week, but in the weeks leading up to the race (build up) and the weeks afterwards (tear down).
EVENT: The tale of two cracks: a water drain crack destroying a race car and setting off events which led to kicking out fans before FP2 which was everything that makes F1 look horrible vs. a cracking race (and admittedly, the night views were spectacular especially that sphere) which was everything that makes F1 look great.
TRACK: It was hysterical listening to all the social media "experts" ripping this track leading up to the weekend when a) it was not your typical all 90-degree street course turns and b) cars hadn't even ran on it. It was more hysterical how ridiculous they looked when none of their complaints came true. It was most hysterical that the best vantage point for the fans was a moving escalator.
QUALIFYING: A drain cover punches a hole in Ferrari's front row lockout as only Leclerc will get to enjoy it, Verstappen settles for ultimately second, Williams is thrilled to be starting on the third row, and huge disappointments for Hamilton and the entire McLaren team.
RACE: The race of the year. Who would have thunk it, especially after Friday's horror show.
START: Verstappen gets a better start and pushes Leclerc way wide, Alonso plays spin-a-rama thanks to no grip at all, leaving him, Perez, and Bottas to pit, Stroll jumps an amazing 10 spots, while Ocon and Tsunoda each gain eight spots.
VERSTAPPEN: A five-second penalty, a damaged car by Russell turning in on him, lucky safety car timing, all allowed Debbie Downer to finally smile at the end of the weekend.
PEREZ: In many ways, it was the old Sergio. Fast. Making up positions. Grabbing the lead on a street circuit. Then, he dosed off... But he still clinched second in the championship after such a personal chaotic season.
RED BULL: Their first 1-2 championship finish ever. That's pretty amazing when you think about it.
LECLERC: Without the second safety car timing, Charles wins this race. However, he didn't give up, turning in an impressive drive for second place.
SAINZ: Carlos got screwed by the lack of force majeure in the rules. Still, a nice fight back to sixth.
FERRARI: Not bad strategy. Just bad timing.
OCON: Nice comeback drive not just for Esteban, but for Alpine.
ALPINE: But are their drivers losing their professional relationship?
STROLL: Second fifth place finish in a row. Every time Lance is counted out and rumored to be leaving the sport, he comes back with some fine performances.
ALONSO: To think, they were going to abandon Fernando's race. Instead, he got ninth and two crucial points.
ASTON MARTIN: Which moves them to 11 points behind McLaren for fourth place with one race to go.
HAMILTON: Another frustrating weekend.
RUSSELL: Silly, amateurish mistake to make.
MERCEDES: Now just four points ahead of Ferrari in the battle for second place which comes down to the last race.
PIASTRI: Nice fastest lap effort.
NORRIS: That was a nasty crash.
WILLIAMS: Tire graining and bad safety car timing turned a promising start into a nightmare race.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: FIAsco.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 0 -- The number of fans allowed to watch FP2.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Logan Sargeant's sixth place start was the best start for an American since the 1987 Detroit GP when Eddie Cheever started in that position driving an Arrows-Megatron. He suffering a punctured rear tire early in the race at the hands of Teo Fabi, dropping Cheever to 19th, a lap down. Thanks to massive attrition rates, Cheever wound up back in sixth place, albeit three laps down from the winner, Ayrton Senna.
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: From @original_smokin after Friday's disaster:
@NASCAR did an incredible job with Chicago and @F1LasVegas is proving that.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: F1 commentator Jolyon Palmer on Max Verstappen's attitude, "You can't say (Las Vegas GP) is a shambles, then 50 laps later you're singing 'Viva Las Vegas' in an Elvis suit. Come on."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Carlos Sainz after finishing sixth ahead of both Mercedes, "I'm very happy to finish ahead of those who wanted me to be penalised."
SCHEDULE: One race left. A constructors fight for second and fourth; a drivers fight for fourth is on the line. And everyone will be looking for momentum heading into the off-season.
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