Hamilton hits back at Las Vegas critics after ‘one of the best races’
By Ian Parkes
Monday 20th November, 2023 - 7:00pm
Lewis Hamilton has hit back at the critics of the Las Vegas Grand Prix – which included F1 rival Max Verstappen – following what he felt was “one of the best races”.
After all the hype in the build-up to the event, and despite the negative blows immediately beforehand on the opening day after Carlos Sainz’s incident with a water drain cover and second practice running at 2.30am in front of empty grandstands, the race mercifully saved face for F1 and Las Vegas.
Prior to winning his 18th race of a phenomenal season, Verstappen was amongst those who had taken every opportunity possible to deride the event given his hatred of the pageantry and entertainment, declaring himself to be a driver who simply wanted to go racing.
At the chequered flag of a truly entertaining race, however, even Verstappen caved in a little to the Vegas spirit as he sang ‘Viva Las Vegas’ over the team radio.
Mercedes driver Hamilton felt there had been too much ‘Vegas bashing’, though, prior to the grand prix, with the belief now that lessons will have been learned that will make year two so much better.
“The race was great,” said Hamilton, following a recovery drive to seventh after running last at one stage after making contact with Oscar Piastri’s McLaren. “It was one of the best races.
“There have been so many people who have been so negative about this race, and about the show and all that. Just let it be and see how it goes. This is like Baku (Azerbaijan GP) but better.”
The seven-time F1 champion conceded to not seeing any of the behind-the-scenes entertainment personally but added: “Vegas put on a great event, and next year is going to be even better. Now we have got through it once, there will be loads of learnings. I am really grateful to Vegas for having us.”
Suggested to Hamilton it was ‘a big win for F1’, he replied: “It is huge.
“There has just been a lot of negativity about having three grands prix in the States, and people talking about bringing old classics back from Europe.
“But this has provided a better race than most of the tracks we go to, so hats off to the people who ran the show. I cannot wait to come back and hopefully have a better race next year.”
This year’s race proved to be a topsy-turvy affair for Hamilton who started 11th but got caught up in the first corner melée that dropped him to 14th by the end of the first lap.
The Briton had fought his way into the points when he and Piastri were involved in an incident that forced them to pit early, wrecking their plans to go long on the opening stint after both had gambled by starting on the hard tyres.
After dropping to last place, Hamilton again had to mount a recovery drive, culminating in him finishing seventh.
“I had no idea what would be possible,” said Hamilton. “I’m grateful to get a couple of points at least, but it would have been a podium, for sure.”