So confident was Max Verstappen about his pace in the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix, that he was not even perturbed when his team informed him he had a five-second penalty following a first lap incident with Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen went deep into Turn 1 trying to overtake Leclerc but lost his RB19 and slid into the Ferrari pushing it off track, no contact though, but a rightful penalty.
You can say the triple Formula 1 Champion was borderline cocky in his reaction to the penalty, but he has been in such a great place so far in 2023, that you can just understand his confidence.
Thus his response when race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase informed him over the radio about the penalty to which he responded: “Yeah that’s fine. Send them (the stewards) my regards!”
And it’s not like he didn’t deliver, he came back and won the race after some masterful driving and a nice but brief battle with Leclerc towards he end, even surviving a front-wing-damaging clash with Mercedes’ George Russell who admitted his fault and received a five-second penalty as well.
A happier Max after the race
After being grumpy all weekend in Las Vegas, Verstappen was in a better mode after winning, and reflected on his race in Red Bull Las Vegas Grand Prix report.
“Viva Las Vegas!” he trumpeted. “The race was exciting, fun and very hectic! We really had to work hard for it today, there was a lot of overtaking and racing which made it really fun.
“It was a tough start on the mediums but once we went on to the hard tyre it was better. The five second penalty at the start was unfortunate, I really didn’t mean to push Charles off, we both braked late into Turn 1 and there was no grip,” the Dutchman explained.
“We had a lot more pace in the car after we pit for hard. I also had a damaged front wing so I definitely lost a lot of downforce with that, it was still driveable so we opted to carry on,” he added of his Russell incident.
Verstappen was asked to offer teammate Sergio Perez a tow at the end of the race to help him pull away from Leclerc, but that didn’t work despite his best efforts.
“We were pushing flat out to the end and on the final lap,” he said. “I tried to help Checo to give him a bit of slip stream, it’s a shame we couldn’t convert the one-two in this race but it’s great that we’ve secured the one-two in the Championship this year.
“Now we head to the final race in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen, who equaled Sebastian Vettel’s tally of 53 wins, concluded.
Horner: He may have changed his mind about Vegas
Red Bull boss Christian Horner joke Verstappen changed his mind about Las Vegas after winning, he said: “That was a great race.
“The speeds around here are insane. Long fast straights, lots of slip stream and big breaking zones, Las Vegas was not short on excitement. Max revels in a race like that, even though he was on the end of a penalty, the way he came back, the way he fought, it was fantastic.
“I think he may have changed his mind about Vegas,” the Briton, who celebrated his 50th birthday in Las Vegas this weekend, pointed out.
“So, Max’s 18th win, a 20th victory for us and our first P1 and P2 in the Drivers’ Championship. It really has been a fantastic year.
“One more race to go and we certainly won’t be letting our foot off the gas just yet,” Horner concluded.