The F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix may have stubbed its tow at the start but qualifying certainly provided an unconventional grid with Ferrari locking out the front row ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.
There’s no doubt the loose water valve cover destroying the underside of two cars was not a good look for the LVGP group and the long delay to repair the circuit as well as frog marching fans out of the grandstands just before the FP2 session started was an even worse look.
F1 spent the last two days taking heat for their overblown opening performance, pomp, hype and glitz and then that was all compounded by accusations of a boring circuit that was not fit for purpose and the perceived mistreatment of the fans who were ushered out before FP1 started. The consolation being a $200 credit for the F1 online store for single-day ticket holders.
Despite that unfortunate situation, qualifying presented a more realistic look at what the actual circuit might produce. Cool temps, slippery track surfaces, cold asphalt all led to a mixed up grid and it showed a few corners that might play an interesting role in the race.
Ferrari’s penchant for over-heating their tires actually played to their strength in Qualifying with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz locking out the front row ahead of Max Verstappen. Max’s teammate, Sergio Perez, was out in Q1 and while that seemed like it may be very damaging in his bid to secure second in the Driver’s Championship against Lewis Hamilton, Lewis himself was also knocked out in Q1 so Sergio had to have a big sigh of relief with that one.
As good as Carlos Sainz did to secure P2, it is actually P12 as he faces a 10-spot grid penalty for having to change his ERS system. That is normal but what isn’t normal is that he had to change it due to the valve cover incident back in Fp1 and that is a track issue, not a team or car issue. Despite that, the stewards say there is no margin for incidents such as these so the law is the law.
How great is it to see both Williams cars in the top 10 with Alex Alton in P6 and Logan Sergeant in P7. Both will move up one spot due to the Sainz penalty. Pierre Gasly had an amazing P5 effort that will now be P4 for the race.
Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen in P8 and P9 respectively is also a great result.
On paper, the track doesn’t look amazing and I think Max is right, it’s not a driver favorite when compared to other circuits but that doesn’t mean it won’t be tricky and have some challenges during a race. Time will tell but there are few key areas I am watching and let’s hope we have a good grand prix.
Las Vegas GP Qualifying Results:
|3||1||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||1:34.190||1:33.572||1:33.104||19|
|8||77||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||1:34.305||1:33.809||1:33.525||19|
|10||14||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||1:34.422||1:33.617||1:33.555||24|
|12||11||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||1:34.574||1:33.855||14|
|14||18||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||1:34.504||1:34.199||18|
|15||3||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||1:34.683||1:34.308||18|
|18||24||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||1:34.849||10|
|20||22||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||1:36.447||9|