Winners and Losers from 2023 F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix qualifying

After the shambles of Thursday and Friday practice, the Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend has settled down.

Free Practice 3 passed without major incident before qualifying saw the birth of a new iconic corner in F1 at Turn 17, and ended with Charles Leclerc on pole position for the third time in four races.

Now all he needs to do is cross the line first in the race.

The Monegasque is where we start our Winners and Losers round-up.

Winner – Charles Leclerc

The Ferrari has been at its strongest this season at tracks with slow corners and long straights, like Baku, Monza and Singapore.

Las Vegas feeds perfectly into that category, and allowed the team to secure a front-row lockout, on paper at least.

Leclerc has taken to the track like a duck to the Bellagio Fountains, but squeaked pole from Sainz by 0.044s to secure it outright and not inherit it after the sister SF-23 takes its 10-place grid drop.

Simply put, Leclerc has to win this race. If there is not a way, he must a find a way.

What did Leclerc say?

“I’m disappointed with my laps in Q3. I didn’t do a good enough job but it was enough for P1. So that’s all we need.”

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Loser – Lewis Hamilton

By the tiniest of margins, Lewis Hamilton found himself the wrong side of the Q2 cut-off line, ending 11th on the road but shuffles to 10th thanks to Sainz’s penalty.

In contrast, team-mate George Russell is third on the grid, and held a two-to-three-tenth advantage over Hamilton throughout the session.

There’s not been anything drastically wrong with the Mercedes, just a lack of pace which leaves Hamilton mired in the midfield while Russell himself needs to capitalise and bank a first podium since Spain.

Coupled with the threat of Ferrari, it is pivotal Hamilton climbs up the order and keeps Sainz behind him in the battle for second in the Constructors’.

What did Hamilton say?

“I just struggled. [During practice] I was feeling better, and I was more competitive. And then we made some changes overnight and it didn’t feel great.”

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© XPBimages

Winner – Logan Sargeant

Williams was always expecting to go well in Vegas owing to the 1.2-mile blast down the Strip favouring the low-drag conditions the car excels in.

In the late flurry of laps in Q3, Logan Sargeant popped himself as high as P4 before eventually falling to sixth – still a career-best for the American who is looking odds on to retain his seat for 2024.

If we’re being picky, 0.190s to Alex Albon in fifth is perhaps slightly too big a gap, but Sargeant was there and put the times on the board and delivered the result.

It should serve as a confidence boost, just when it appears he has cracked the F1 code and is putting the package together.

A chunky points haul is the minimum he needs to deliver in the race.

What did Sargeant say?

“I’m very happy to execute over three separate sessions and finally extract the potential that we’ve had. To do it here in Vegas is extra special which is highlighted by the fact we have a great car here”

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© XPBimages

Loser – Sergio Perez

From 21 races, this is the ninth time Sergio Perez has failed to make Q3. That is unacceptable.

This time, he put it down to the run-plan Red Bull opted for, but this was a case of ‘last man over the line getting the best track conditions’ as the evolution ramped up in the closing stages of Q2.

It was this that also caught Hamilton out, but Perez was dumped out in 12th having been caught out.

It’s sloppy and the blame must go to both Perez for not putting his foot down and demanding to be on track and Red Bull for a rare operational blunder.

What did Perez say?

“Finishing the session a little bit too early, meant that there was some evolution still on the track. I wasn’t aware that we were going to finish that early.”

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© XPBimages

Winner – Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas is at his best on low grip circuits and usually excels. Let us not forget as he’s slid into midfield obscurity that this is a driver who beat Hamilton about one time in three over one lap at Mercedes.

The Alfa Romeo has been quick in his hands throughout the weekend and on merit, he qualified faster than Fernando Alonso, Hamilton, Perez and Lando Norris.

He was comfortably half-a-second quicker than team-mate Zhou Guanyu in Q1, with the Chinese racer 18th fastest.

To be harsh, he should have out-qualified Sargeant with the American, Bottas, Kevin Magnussen and Alonso all within 0.042s in the 1:33.5 region.

But its a job well done in a season of rare highlights.

What did Bottas say?

“It’s a great result for us and it gives us a good opportunity to score some points. It’s a shame Zhou had a tricky Q1, otherwise we could have been up there with both cars; in any case, we can be happy about our pace, especially as we couldn’t really be sure about where we’d be coming into this race.”

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© XPBimages

Loser – McLaren

McLaren has had a struggle with its low-downforce package all-season and as such, expectations were low as the track does not feature many of the medium to fast corners in which the MCL60 is superb.

But even though, a double Q1 exit was certainly not on the cards and a below par peformance.

It’s given Alonso the chance to eat into the points lead as the battle for fourth goes on, with McLaren 19 points ahead.

As good as the car is, there are still some weaknesses to iron out before the team can be considered an all-round title challenger – and this shows exactly where it is lacking.

What did Norris say?

“In a way, I would say it’s a good thing that it’s kept us in a bit of a reality check.”

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© XPBimages


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