If you’d looked at the result of the Las Vegas Grand Prix yesterday, you wouldn’t have been judged for not bothering to tune into the highlights as Max Verstappen racked up his 18th win of the season.
But a Grand Prix weekend that felt like such a sham in the lead-up to Sunday morning’s start actually produced one of the best races of the season. Here’s what we learned from a night out in Sin City.
Shambles in Sin City
Before the 20 drivers even managed to round the first corner the Las Vegas Grand Prix felt like a little bit of a shambles.
Thursday’s practice was reduced to nine minutes while Ferrari and Carlos Sainz Jr came a cropper on a manhole that wasn’t properly secured to the track.
Fans were kicked out before the action resumed and thousands have joined a class action lawsuit since.
Tickets were extortionate and stands looked sparse on Friday and Saturday. And before the race a number of the vintage parade cars broke down, spewing oil across the gripless track.
Verstappen said he felt like a “clown”, while adding that he’d “tear down Las Vegas” if he was a fan who hadn’t been offered a refund for the issues across the practice days. Punters were given a $200 gift card to spend on merchandise instead.
It is fair to say that the events leading up to the start of the race offered little hope of a successful race. How wrong many people’s perceptions were.
Las Vegas delivers… eventually
The lead changed a number of times between the eventual podium holders, Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez while lowly teams including Alpine and Williams enjoyed stints in the top five places.
The track forced drivers to think about their tyres and it resulted in no single racer being able to catapult themselves too far in front of the rest of the pack.
And the use of safety cars ensured that strategy and timing was paramount throughout the competition.
It seems like a disservice to wish losses upon Verstappen given the record breaking season he has enjoyed but this race did need a different winner. The way in which the Dutch World Champion elect was made to work, however, was a change from a number of other races this year.
The race itself had a little bit of everything once it got going and that is something that will be of relief to Formula 1, who are already taking deposits for ticket packages for next year.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix, for all of its tackiness and glitz, will feature on the Formula 1 calendar for another nine years at least.
F1 purchased land to build a paddock and have plans to turn the race into the true entertainment hub for the series across coming years.
But some changes need to be made, including the price point in which true fans can get into the stands, and the timing.
Next year will see Vegas kick-start a three-week run of consecutive races in the US, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, and the late starts stateside will help no one going forward.
The gamble, though, to head to Sin City appears to have paid off.