It may only be the penultimate race of the F1 season, but the Las Vegas Grand Prix might be the most anticipated race of the season. The city of Las Vegas is pulling out all the stops, including a temporary track that will go right through the famous Las Vegas Strip. Even with the results of the Brazilian Grand Prix fresh in everyone’s minds, let’s start taking a look at the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Here are the top drivers who are in contention to finish first in the first F1 race held in Las Vegas since 1982.
Without question, Verstappen is the clear favourite to win the Las Vegas Grand Prix, according to all of the major betting sites. The Dutchman has dominated the F1 season in a way that no other driver has in the history of the sport. After winning the Brazil Grand Prix, Verstappen has now won 17 of the 20 this season. Why wouldn’t he be favoured to win the last two? Clearly, Verstappen is the best F1 driver in the world right now by a big margin. The only caveat is that the Las Vegas Grand Prix is a new race with an unfamiliar course, which could level the playing field. But if anyone can adjust quickly to it, Verstappen can.
Perez might be the driver with the best chance of ending Verstappen’s five-race winning streak. He’s currently second in the F1 standings and has shown in the past that he’s capable of giving Verstappen a run for his money. In fact, two of the three races this season that Verstappen didn’t win were won by Perez. On the other hand, Perez has finished outside of the top three drivers in six straight races, so he’s not in the form he was in early in the season when he won his two races.
Currently third in the F1 standings, Hamilton is another driver who could pull off a surprise at the Las Vegas Grand Prix and prevent Verstappen from winning. Hamilton is a seven-time F1 champion, winning the title in 2020 before Verstappen’s reign began. During the current season, Hamilton has finished in the top three in six races, including a second-place finish at the Mexico City Grand Prix last month. In other words, he’s one of the few drivers with the skills and track record to steal the spotlight away from Verstappen in Las Vegas.
Following back-to-back races in which he was forced to retire, Alonso finished third at the Brazil Grand Prix. While he’s yet to win a race this season, he’s been good enough to be fourth in the F1 standings. Without question, his best days are behind him, as Alonso hasn’t won an F1 race in over a decade. However, his experience level could prove useful on the unfamiliar track in Las Vegas.
Outside of a few races when he’s been forced to retire, Russell hasn’t finished worse than eighth place in a race all season. The young Brit has brought a surprising level of consistency to the circuit in 2023. Russell will undoubtedly be disappointed after being forced to retire last weekend during the Brazil Grand Prix, a race that he won last season. That should inspire him to be at his best when he goes to Las Vegas.
Somewhat quietly, Leclerc has had a strong run during the second half of the F1 season. Of the last six races that he’s been able to finish, Leclerc has finished in the top five in all of them. That includes a third-place finish at the Mexico City Grand Prix last month. Leclerc is one of the few drivers that’s been consistently nipping at Verstappen’s heels. That makes him a dark horse candidate to steal the Las Vegas Grand Prix away from Verstappen.
Carlos Sainz Jr.
There are only three F1 drivers who can claim to have won a race in 2023, and Sainz is one of them. He took first place at the Singapore Grand Prix before Verstappen rattled off five victories in a row. Including that win in Singapore, Sainz has finished third or better in three of his last six races. Despite only being ranked sixth in the F1 standings right now, Sainz should still be considered a threat in Las Vegas to beat Verstappen and the rest of the field for the second time this year.