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Las Vegas GP

Las Vegas Grand Prix: F1 Free Practice 2 results

Who used the 90 minutes session the best?

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The 21st race weekend of the 2023 season in Las Vegas marked a pivotal moment in the Formula 1 calendar, yet faced an unexpected setback during FP1 when a loose manhole cover frame cut the session short after only eight minutes. As a remedy, Free Practice 2 was extended to 90 minutes to compensate for the lost time.

Las Vegas GP
Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT04 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas at Las Vegas Strip Circuit on November 17, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Additionally, Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon encountered car damage in the earlier session due to the loose manhole, setting the stage for a challenging weekend ahead.

Green Flag in Las Vegas

The following 90 minutes were significant for the weekend. The drivers had less than 10 minutes in FP1 to familiarise themselves with the new track.

Lando Norris was the first to take to the track, which was still completely green, but drove straight back into the pits to make some changes to the set-up.

On the other hand, Max Verstappen set a 1:41.905 on medium tyres and secured first place for the first time.

But this time did not stand for long, as Carlos Sainz set a 1:39.891 on the soft tyres. His team-mate Charles Leclerc was +0.116 seconds slower.

The track temperature was just under 15 degrees, and the track improved quickly, which was necessary given the low grip. Some drivers were on medium-compound tyres and others on soft-compound tyres.

The times tumbled, and Lewis Hamilton set the new fastest time, a 1:38.876. Hamilton expressed dissatisfaction with Sainz, believing the Spaniard blocked him during a fast lap. Despite the setback, the Mercedes driver rebounded to set the quickest time. However, his position dropped to fourth as Leclerc, Sainz, and Verstappen all posted improved lap times. Verstappen topped the board with a 1:38.209.

The drivers are still adjusting to the Las Vegas Strip circuit, with some experiencing challenges such as running wide and going off track. The most recent incident involved Stroll, who triggered short yellow flags after locking up and going off at Turn 14. Although the Aston Martin driver managed to continue, there were concerns about the condition of his tyres.

While Carlos Sainz’s runs went reasonably smoothly despite the heavy damage and the replacement of some components on his SF-23, things looked more difficult for Esteban Ocon. His chassis also had to be replaced as the survival cell had suffered damage. With a 1:39.897 on the medium-compound tyres, Ocon was in 10th place.

After problems with Norris’ car were recognised and rectified, he set off to gain his first experience on the track. His time put him in 7th place for the time being.

One hour left

Since the session was scheduled for 90 minutes, the drivers are getting suited to the new track and the layout. Nevertheless, Verstappen and Leclerc engaged in a spirited wheel-to-wheel battle in the initial corners of their laps. The Ferrari driver playfully remarks, “Max is already in race mode.”

A lot had happened at the front in the meantime: Charles Leclerc led with a 1:36.660, closely followed by Lewis Hamilton, who was 0.003 seconds slower, with Alex Albon in third place, just 0.028 seconds behind Leclerc.

All the drivers drove their programmes, and Alonso quickly shot up to first place. However, he was quickly edged out by Charles Leclerc with a 1:35.696 and Verstappen and Sainz by just over five tenths.

Final minutes

With a quarter of an hour left on the clock, some riders started to complete long runs. For the fast times, this meant that Leclerc led with a 1:35.265. His team-mate Sainz followed with +0.517 seconds behind him. Alonso in the Aston Martin was third, +0.528 seconds behind Leclerc.

Both McLaren cars were in 11th place at the back of the field, with Norris 1.599 seconds behind Leclerc and Piastri in 14th place, 1.722 seconds behind the leader.

When Leclerc is on a fast lap, he encounters Zhou and feels like he is being impeded: “Come on Zhou, wake up, it’s too late for him.”

Final results
  1. Leclerc
  2. Sainz
  3. Alonso
  4. Perez
  5. Bottas
  6. Verstappen
  7. Hülkenberg
  8. Stroll
  9. Hamilton
  10. Albon
  11. Norris
  12. Russell
  13. Magnussen
  14. Piastri
  15. Gasly
  16. Ocon
  17. Tsunoda
  18. Zhou
  19. Ricciardo
  20. Sargeant


Feature Image Credit: ANP SEM VAN DER WAL (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)

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