Leclerc ‘really enjoyed’ first Las Vegas Grand Prix

LAS VEGAS — Charles Leclerc said the entertaining first Las Vegas Grand Prix is exactly what Formula One needed from its glitzy new event after it attracted criticism earlier in the week.

Vegas’ new circuit delivered a race of the season candidate which saw Leclerc swap the lead with both Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez.

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F1’s $500 billion new event got off to a difficult start this week when a loose drain cover destroyed the underside of Carlos Sainz‘s Ferrari on Thursday, leading to the cancellation of first practice.

Second practice took place at 2.30 A.M. on Friday morning after fans had been asked to leave the circuit.

Fans with a Thursday ticket were given a $200 voucher for the race merchandise shop instead of a refund.

“I really enjoyed it,” Leclerc said of the race. “I think we needed it. Of course, the weekend didn’t start the way it had to start, but I’m so happy that it ended that way. It’s such an incredible sport.

“I think today, there was no better race than our first race in Vegas. The energy around the city is incredible and just really happy, at least I enjoyed today.”

Leclerc had claimed pole position for the event but was forced wide at Turn 1 by eventual winner Verstappen.

On the radio during the race, Leclerc had made it clear he felt Verstappen should have immediately been made to hand the position back.

Verstappen was eventually handed a five-second penalty, which he served at his first pitstop, but it didn’t stop him from winning the race.

Leclerc managed to pull off the move of the race to reclaim second position, getting by Perez at the penultimate corner of the final lap.

“I’m of course disappointed to only finish second, but at the end that was the best we could do,” Leclerc added.

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

“We got a bit unluckily with the safety car. We didn’t pit because we didn’t know what the others will do. We went for track position and keeping that first place.

“That was difficult with the older tyres towards the end. But second place with a lot of fights, honestly I enjoyed it.”

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