Toronto Star ePaper

Vegas F1 wins over Verstappen

Max Verstappen had hated everything about the Las Vegas Grand Prix from the moment he arrived in Sin City. Formula One’s three-time reigning world champion found the excess and opulence over the top.

He changed his tune, literally, following his 18th win of the season.

“Viva Las Vegas! Viva Las Vegas!” Verstappen sang over the team radio as he crossed under the checkered flag, waved by pop star Justin Bieber.

Verstappen had slammed the spectacle for days before racing to victory in an Elvis-inspired firesuit on the famed Strip: “I hope everyone enjoyed it — we definitely did. Excited to come back here next year and try to do something similar.”

Verstappen passed Charles Leclerc at the start, then overcame a penalty to pass Leclerc again with 13 laps to go. The top three finishers — Verstappen, Leclerc and Sergio Pérez — were taken by limousine to the podium near the Bellagio and treated to the casino’s famed fountain show, followed by a fireworks display.

Canadian Lance Stroll finished fifth.

Stars in attendance included Brad Pitt, Rihanna and Shaquille O’Neal. F1 said more than 315,000 fans attended over the weekend. Tickets were expensive, hotels along the Strip hiked their prices, and the sporting element of the race was overshadowed by everything from celebrities, musical acts and myriad Elvis impersonators roaming the paddock — which included a wedding chapel where Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 F1 champion, was married last week.

“I don’t think the music stopped this entire weekend in the paddock,” said Logan Sargeant, F1’s only American driver.





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