Leclerc “knew Perez was being cautious a little bit on braking” before last lap pass in Las Vegas GP

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While Charles Leclerc was not the victor on track, he was surely the best driver of the weekend in Las Vegas. After showing blistering pace during qualifying and claiming pole on Saturday, the Monegasque star finished runner-up to the race winner Max Verstappen, and he was only 2 seconds away from getting his first win of the season.

However, he was set to finish third up until the very last lap, when he made a superb diving move into turn 14 to pass Sergio Perez after passing down the Las Vegas Strip for the 50th and final time, securing 3 more points for his team and for himself, after a strong race that could have been even better without the second Safety Car.

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

When speaking about his pass in the post-race press conference, Leclerc knew that once Perez made a mistake in the laps prior at turn 4, he knew that he had to go for broke and that his opportunity was going to be successful as Checo was going to be cautious under braking.

“Once I went for it I was pretty confident it would work out. It was basically the only opportunity I had. It’s the only place where you can really go for an overtake.

“And I also had in mind that Checo had done a small mistake four or five laps before so I knew he was being cautious a little bit on braking. And in the second to last lap, I started to recharge the batteries in order to get ready for that last lap and it worked out.

“So it was obviously very, very tight but I was really happy and I really enjoyed the fight.”

While the decision to bring F1 to Las Vegas for the first time in 40 years was met with some of the biggest fanfare in Formula One history, the decision to race along the strip was met with some controversy, with some stating that the decision was only based on marketing and money — and not on the racing.

Leclerc, however, had a positive attitude towards the circuit, hailing the thrilling action that took place on Saturday night local time.

“I loved the racing,” the Ferrari driver added. “I did not expect to have that much fun in the race because in FP2 I was following, I think, George [Russell] and I really struggled to overtake him.

“Then we went down on the downforce and today was much better. I had a lot more fun. So yeah, it was a really exciting race. And I’m pretty sure it was a really good one to watch. So, I’ll make sure I watch that race back.

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Some drivers may have said that the cool temperatures and the late start time, 10 P.M. local time, could have hindered some due to the cold tyre temperatures and the inability to get heat into their tyres.

Ferrari, on the other hand, has been struggling with tyre overheating, especially in Qatar and Brazil.

Now, for the first time in a few races, it seems that the low temperatures have helped the team get their tyres in gear and bring the team to a strong finish in the second to last race of the season.

“I’m happy. However, I think this says a lot about our car and we are in conditions that are like nowhere else.

“It’s very, very cold and I think overheating here is not that much of an issue. But it was more graining and trying to keep those tyres in temperatures and on that we are pretty good.

“But whenever it’s warmer, we struggle more. So, it doesn’t give me any more confidence for the future because Abu Dhabi is going to be very different compared to here.

“On the other hand, it’s always nice to have a great weekend. And I think we’ve learned a lot as well for the future. So yeah, it’s a good weekend overall.”