Leclerc: F1 needed entertaining Vegas race after chaotic weekend start

Formula 1 "needed" an entertaining 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix following a turbulent start to the event, says Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who wants more races to deliver similar on-track excitement.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Polesitter Leclerc finished second to Max Verstappen, despite the three-time champion earning a five-second penalty for running his front-row rival off track through Turn 1 to nick the early lead.

A second safety car interruption that afforded Sergio Perez a cheaper pitstop then put Red Bull on course for a 1-2 result only for Leclerc to dive back past on the final lap with the aid of DRS.

For the on-track excitement, Leclerc waxed lyrical about the Vegas event saying that other races needed to produce similar battles.

He said: "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.

"We shall have more races like that where the racing is like that because it was really enjoyable."

Leclerc reckoned F1, which has invested $500million to launch the Vegas round, "needed" the race on the Strip to be a success following a shambolic start to the weekend.

His team-mate Carlos Sainz suffered extensive damage from running over a water valve cover that was not fixed securely.

This led to FP1 being abandoned after only nine minutes of running while FP2 was delayed by 2hours30mins while the 30 covers were cemented in place. But, due to the disruption, grandstands were shut and fans removed to allow for the security guards' shift patterns.

Leclerc continued: "I really enjoyed it. I think we needed it. Of course, the weekend didn't start the way it had to start, but I'm so happy that it ended that way. It's such an incredible sport.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, 2nd position, arrives in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, 2nd position, arrives in Parc Ferme

"I think today, there was no better race than our first race in Vegas. The energy around the city is incredible and just really happy, at least I enjoyed today."

F1 organisers have offered those fans who missed out on watching practice $200 of free merchandise to compensate, although a high-profile local law firm has launched a legal action to pursue refunds for spectators.

Addressing his Turn 1 brush with Verstappen, who ultimately won by 2.07 seconds, Leclerc said: "I'm of course disappointed to only finish second, but at the end that was the best we could do.

"At the start, it was very tricky because I think Max on the inside lost a little bit of grip and brought me on the outside. But then we had the pace, we passed him back and we were really strong overall.

"We got a bit unluckily 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.

"That was difficult with the older tyres towards the end. But second place with a lot of fights, honestly I enjoyed it."

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