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Max qualifies third for Las Vegas Grand Prix: 'We have maximized today'

Published on 18 November 2023 by Misha van der Kroon

Max Verstappen finished third in the qualifying session for the Las Vegas Grand Prix. In the streets of Las Vegas, only the Ferraris were faster than Max. Charles Leclerc was the fastest, ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz. Sergio Perez, Max’s teammate at Oracle Red Bull Racing qualified in P12.

“It was enjoyable out there,” Max says after the session. “I think we maximized today. The whole weekend so far we have been lacking a bit of one-lap performance, and that was quite clear in qualifying. I hope that tomorrow in the race we’ll be good on the tyres again and can work our way forward.”

Max is confident about the race, but also knows that there are many uncertainties. “The car felt good yesterday. Of course I had hoped for a little bit more pace today, but we know that the points are scored tomorrow. It will be a tough race, the first one here. There might be some safety cars and it’s of course a very long straight where a lot of racing will happen.”    

At the start of Q1, most drivers leave their garage immediately and take to the track. Many drivers were unable to do some good qualifying laps in FP3, due to a red flag caused by Alexander Albon late in that session. As a result, there are still many open questions about the actual qualifying speed of the teams on this new circuit. In any case, the Ferraris seem fast, which is proven by Leclerc in his first run in Q1 as he clocks the fastest time. In his first run, Max clocks the second fastest time of just one tenth behind the Monegasque. And surprisingly Logan Sargeant sets the third fastest time on the clock. 

After these first runs, many drivers stay out on track to build up more temperature in their tyres, which is definitely necessary as it’s only 15 degrees. Verstappen also stays out, and that decision pays off when his second run is eight tenths faster than his previous clocked time. 

At the end of Q1, Leclerc is on top of the timesheets, followed by Carlos Sainz and George Russell. Verstappen ends Q1 in fourth, more than half a second behind Leclerc. The drivers knocked out in this part of qualifying are Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, Guanyu Zhou, Oscar Piastri and Yuki Tsunoda.

At the start of Q2, many drivers again go out immediately, but Verstappen decides to wait. He takes to the track after more than six minutes, when the majority of the drivers has already set a lap time. Fernando Alonso is the fastest halfway through the session, just ahead of Perez, Leclerc and Sainz. In his first flying lap, Max immediately shows that he is fast. He sets the fastest time, but is pushed back to third shortly after, when Leclerc and Sainz take P1 and P2. 

The track is getting better and faster by the end of Q2, and Perez falls victim to that. With three minutes on the clock, the Mexican drives into the pitlane where he stays until the end of the session. Many drivers improve their times, knocking out Perez, who will have to start the race from P12. Also knocked out in this part of qualifying are Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg, Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo. At the top of the timesheets we find Leclerc, Sainz and Russell. Max is in P5, more than seven tenths behind Leclerc.

In Q3 the real fight for pole position starts, and the Ferraris are immediately fast. Leclerc sets the fastest time, followed closely by Sainz and Verstappen. The top three are within 0.083 seconds of each other. Max pushes his car to the limits, and almost hits a wall when exiting a corner. “That was close,” the three-time World Champion calls over the radio to his team.

Everybody prepares for the final runs in Q3. The Ferraris have put a new set of soft tyres on their cars, Verstappen did not. The Dutchman unfortunately is not able to improve his time and remains in third place. Leclerc and Sainz improve their time, securing their first and second places. However, the Spaniard received a ten-place grid penalty after FP1, so he will have to start the race from the mid-field. 

During the Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend, Max will sport a special helmet design. His RB19 features a Las Vegas inspired livery. You can pre-order the scale models for both helmets and cars on

Contest Las Vegas GP: win a 1:43 Max Verstappen Formula 3 2014 scale model!

Results qualifying Las Vegas:

1Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:33.6171:32.7751:32.726
2Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:33.8511:33.3381:32.770
3Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:34.1901:33.5721:33.104
4George RussellRUSMercedes1:34.1371:33.3511:33.112
5Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:34.2721:33.4941:33.239
6Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:34.6341:33.5881:33.323
7Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:34.5251:33.7331:33.513
8Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:34.3051:33.8091:33.525
9Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:34.3371:33.6641:33.537
10Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:34.4221:33.6171:33.555
11Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:34.3071:33.837
12Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:34.5741:33.855
13Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:34.2651:33.979
14Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:34.5041:34.199
15Daniel RicciardoRICAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:34.6831:34.308
16Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:34.703
17Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:34.834
18Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:34.849
19Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:34.850
20Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:36.447