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Max Verstappen overcomes early penalty to win thriller in Las Vegas | Formula One

Max Verstappen won the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix but had to work hard for it in what was a thriller on the streets of the city.

The world champion had to fight back after a five-second penalty and make a series of passes before beating Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc into second and his Red Bull teammate, Sergio Pérez, into third.

After fears the race would be something of a procession dictated by tyre management, at its first time out the street circuit that winds through the heart of Las Vegas delivered a genuine contest lit up by the landmarks and the lights and a series of superlative drives across the field.

Verstappen had taken the lead off the start but was given a penalty for forcing Leclerc off track in doing so. It dropped him down the field, while Pérez did well out of a pit stop under the safety car to join the fray at the front. Leclerc too showed great spirit in refusing to yield to the quicker Red Bulls without a fight.

The Ferrari looked more competitive than it has done for some time, and he fought for second to the very death, overtaking Pérez in the final moments of the race. Third place was still enough to confirm Pérez as the championship runner-up – the first time Red Bull have sealed a one-two in the drivers’ standings.

The race still ended with Verstappen on top of the podium, though. The Dutchman now has 18 wins this season and he could finish it with a 19th from 22 meetings next week in Abu Dhabi, an extraordinary achievement that it is hard to imagine ever being matched.

Esteban Ocon was fourth for Alpine and Lance Stroll fifth for Aston Martin. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were in seventh and eighth for Mercedes. Carlos Sainz was sixth for Ferrari, Fernando Alonso was ninth for Aston Martin and Oscar Piastri tenth for McLaren.

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