Crashes and penalties abound at the inaugural staging of the Las Vegas Grand Prix in the early hours of Sunday (November 19).
Ultimately, the race ended the way 17 other races have- with Max Verstappen on the top step.
It would not be as straightforward as his other victories, with three different race leaders during the event.
Ultimately, the Dutchman put enough distance between himself and Monégasque Charles LeClerc to survive a penalty and a crash to claim a record-extending 18th win of the season.
Both LeClerc and Verstappen were forced off the track going into Turn 1 with Verstappen gaining one place from the the Ferrari pole-sitter once they rejoined the track.
Turn 1 also saw Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez collide with the AlfaRomeo of Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari making contact with the rear of Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.
After a chaotic start, the race began to settle. However, very quickly on Lap 3, Lando Norris had a violent collision with the barrier and the McClaren driver’s night was over.
Hamilton would suffer a punctured tire after another collision, this time with McClaren’s Oscar Piastri on lap 17.
The damage saw the seven-time champion lose his position and coupled with a slow pit stop for new rubber, the Briton rejoined the pack in 19th position.
A safety car was deployed after Verstappen and George Russell collided into turn 12 on lap 25.
LeClerc would execute a brave overtake of Perez on the final lap and split the two Red Bull drivers, to create some much-needed excitement at the front of a race for the first time in several outings.
The Dutchman was still able to maintain his win after he was given a penalty for causing the incident between himself and LeClerc on Lap 1.
It was a double podium finish for Red Bull, with Perez finishing in third behind LeClerc.
Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll both had amazing drives on the day as well.
Ocon started the race in 16th place and Stroll, after being given a 5 spot grid penalty began his night in 19th position.
Both drivers would show great speed and race craft as they moved through the field and were rewarded for their endeavors with points.
Ocon would end the night in fourth and Stroll would finish in fifth.
LeClerc’s Ferrari teammate was hit with an unfortunate 10 place grid penalty after the track caused damage to his engine and chassis in the first practice session and the repairs exceeded his limit of changes for the season.
Despite this, the Spaniard was able to make up six places from 12th and finish in sixth.
Russell was given a 5-second penalty for causing the collision with Verstappen, which ended him in eighth place after it was applied.
Just ahead of him, his teammate Hamilton, who powered through the field brilliantly after his misfortunes, put his car across the line in seventh.
Rounding out the points were Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri, who also gained an extra point for the night’s fastest lap.
With this result, the top three in the Drivers’ Championship have been confirmed.
With only a race to go, neither Hamilton nor Perez will lose their places and Red Bull will end their historic season with a Constructors’ title and a 1,2 in the Driver’s Championship.
Lewis Hamilton will end the season in the final podium place of the Drivers’ championship.
The final places in the Constructors’ championship are still very much up for grabs.
Only eight points separate second-place Mercedes and fourth-place McClaren, with Aston Martin still in with a shout, as they sit 11 points behind McClaren in fifth.
The checkered flag will come down on the season with Round 23 in Abu Dhabi on November 24-26.