“Viva Las Vegas! Viva Las Vegas!” Max Verstappen sang as he claimed victory in the Las Vegas Grand Prix on Saturday night.
Pop singer Justin Bieber waved the checkered flag for Formula One’s three-time reigning world champion. This was Vegas, after all.
After the rockiest of starts, the show finally delivered, including a loose water valve cover that caused chaos during a Thursday night/Friday morning practice session that finished in front of empty grandstands.
Verstappen, who had said on Wednesday that the whole event felt like “99 per cent show, 1 per cent sporting event,” sang a more upbeat tune after winning the 18th of 21 races he has entered in 2023. As the the Dutchman crossed the Las Vegas track finish line, his Red Bull engineers played the Elvis Presley hit “Viva Las Vegas” through the team radio.
“I hope everyone enjoyed it. We definitely did,” Verstappen said after the race. “Excited to come back here next year and try to do something similar.”
Verstappen, Leclerc, who finished second, two seconds behind, and Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, who earned third place, were taken to the winner’s platform for post-race interviews at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in a Rolls Royce.
“Where are we going?” Leclerc asks in a clip of their car ride before joking: “To the club?”
“We go straight to the nightclub!” Verstappen said in response. “Skip everything. See you tomorrow everyone … or not!”
Brad Pitt, Rihanna, Usain Bolt, and Shaquille O’Neal joined Bieber among the celebrities in attendance. Race officials said the event drew more than 315,000 spectators over the weekend and estimated the economic impact of $1.2 billion for Las Vegas.
Perez's third place was enough to lock in second place in the world championship standings and a first-ever one-two for Red Bull in the drivers' competition.