Leclerc pleased with “really good race” after gutsy move for P2 on the final lap of F1 Las Vegas GP

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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc delivered a standout performance at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, spectacularly denying Red Bull a 1-2 finish on the final lap of the race.

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Polesitter Leclerc lost the lead at the start to Max Verstappen, who was later handed a five-second penalty for pushing the Ferrari driver wide.

Leclerc showed great pace throughout the race and looked like the favourite to win, until a safety car—triggered by a clash between Verstappen and Russell—allowed both Red Bulls to pit for fresher tyres.

Verstappen hunted down Leclerc and passed him for first with 13 laps to go, leaving Leclerc sandwiched by the Red Bulls. Pérez eventually capitalised on a lock-up from Leclerc which saw him move up into second place.

Even on older tyres, Leclerc quickly closed the gap to Pérez. The fight went right down to the wire, and on the final lap, Leclerc retaliated with a spectacular move on Pérez, jumping back into second and denying the Bulls a 1-2 finish.

Although the Ferrari driver was disappointed to miss out on the win, he battled hard throughout, getting voted Driver of the Day by fans. Leclerc admitted that he had enjoyed the race, heartened by Ferrari’s strong race pace—something the team struggled with throughout the season.

“What a race, honestly I enjoyed it so much,”

“I’m of course disappointed to only finish second, but that was the best we could do. At the start it was very tricky, I think Max on the inside lost a bit the grip and brought me on the outside. But we had the pace and passed him back. We were really strong overall, so that was a really good race.

“We got a bit unlucky 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, and that was difficult with the older tyres towards the end.

“But, second place with a lot of fights, I enjoyed it (…) and I think we needed it.”

The Las Vegas Grand Prix was plagued with issues practically from the beginning of the weekend, but in the end, the inaugural race managed to thrill with several exciting on-track battles, many of them involving Leclerc.

“I’m sorry about the second place. But on the other hand, I’m sure that everybody had an amazing time looking at the race. I really, really enjoyed it,” Leclerc reiterated.

“We should have more races like that where the racing is like that because it was really enjoyable.”

He reflected on his performance in more detail after the podium celebrations had concluded, admitting that he believed victory was within reach had it not been for the ill-timed safety car.

“On one hand I’m happy, because I need to be after such a race, from the team’s point of view, and also from my own performance. There’s nothing I’ve left on the table today and I gave it absolutely all until the very last corner on the last lap. And that was obviously very exciting to get that second place from Checo in the last corner.

“On the other hand obviously disappointed because I really believe—I hate speaking with ‘ifs’ and I never do that, but I really believe that today, without the safety car, the victory was ours.

“Because to restart on used tyres after the safety car was a big disadvantage for us and that’s where we lost the race, because the Red Bulls had new tyres at that time.

The Monégasque added that he’s looking forward to challenging Mercedes for P2 in the Constructors’ Championship at the season finale next week.

“There are lots of positives this weekend, but I think the biggest positive I need to take from a weekend like this is that we are now four points away from Mercedes, and that means that the second place in the Constructors’ will be decided in Abu Dhabi. And I am fully motivated to have a great weekend in Abu Dhabi and hopefully finish second in the Constructors’.”