Charles Leclerc admitted that he was disappointed to miss out on a first place finish at the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix on the Strip, having started the race in pole position but lost the lead to Max Verstappen in a questionable challenge on the opening 200 metres of the race on Sunday, November 19.

The Dutchman was subsequently handed a five-second penalty for pushing Leclerc off the track going into Turn 1, and the Monegasque was able to overtake his rival 14 laps later. However, Leclerc dropped to P3 after swapping his medium tyres for the hards just before the Safety Car was called upon, as marshals needed to clear the track of debris following contact between Verstappen and Mercedes’ George Russell on the 25th lap.

Leclerc regained the lead and lost it again, this time to both Red Bulls running fresher rubber. Down but not out, the determined Monegasque put up a fight to claw back P2 from Sergio Perez in the last lap to the excitement of spectators and the Scuderia, ending his race in second place sandwiched in between Verstappen in first place and Perez in third.

“I mean what a race,” Leclerc reflected after the action packed Las Vegas GP, adding that “honestly, I enjoyed it so much. I am of course disappointed to only finish second but at the end that was the best we could do.”

“At the start it was very tricky because I think Max on the inside lost a little bit of the grip and rode me on the outside. But then we had the pace, we passed him back. We were really strong overall, so that was a really good race.”

Giving a last message for Ferrari tifosi in attendance, Leclerc added “I’m sorry about the second place, I gave it my all. But on the other hand, I am sure that everybody had an amazing time looking at the race.”

The first Las Vegas GP on the Strip was certainly an entertaining race for spectator and driver, with close contact racing throughout. Next up is the final race of the 2023 Formula 1 season, the conclusive Abu Dhabi GP on Sunday, November 26.

Featured image courtesy of REUTERS/Mike Blake