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Formula 1 Las Vegas GP

Hamilton dismisses Vegas F1 criticism after "better race than most"

Lewis Hamilton has dismissed criticism surrounding Formula 1's return to Las Vegas after it delivered an enthralling race that was "better than most tracks we go to".

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

F1's extravagant and VIP-oriented return to the gambling haven raised eyebrows among F1's traditional fanbase.

Early teething issues with the track that ended Thursday's FP1 after nine minutes and led to a delayed FP2 that was closed to spectators, further fuelled impressions that the series was putting commercial considerations over the sporting product.

But Saturday night's action-packed bonanza on the Las Vegas streets put paid to those concerns, with the low-grip conditions and long straights providing a spellbinding race from start to finish that was won by Max Verstappen after a race-long fight with Charles Leclerc.

While Verstappen had been openly uncomfortable with the event's focus on off-track entertainment and the hype created around the event, Mercedes driver Hamilton had been one of its staunchest defenders and he felt Saturday's race had vindicated that support.

"The race was great. It was one of the best races," he said.

"So many people, all the media, everyone has been so negative about this race and about the show and all that, I was [like] just let it be and let's see how it goes. Great race! This is like Baku, but better.

When asked if F1 had done a good job balancing sport and entertainment, he replied: "I haven't seen any entertainment so I don't really know. I have not been watching that side of things.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W14

Photo by: Erik Junius

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W14

"But as I said, there's just been a lot of negativity about having three grands prix in the States and people talking about bringing back old classic races from Europe.

"But this has provided a better race than most of the tracks we go to. So, hats off to the people that run the show and can't wait to come back and hopefully have a better race here next year."

Hamilton's race was derailed by contact with McLaren's Oscar Piastri on Lap 16 of 50, which forced both drivers to make an extra pitstop to deal with a puncture.

When asked how much higher up he could have finished than seventh, he said: "I have no idea what would be possible, but I'm grateful to get a couple of points at least. But it would have been a podium, for sure."

Additional reporting by Mandy Curi

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