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Ferrari set pace in incident-free Las Vegas GP FP2

Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari one-two in FP2 for the 2023 Las Vegas GP

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Charles Leclerc was the runaway leader when FP2 finally got underway for the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix, ending a humiliating first day on The Strip for Formula 1.

Leclerc‘s dominance took place in front of empty grandstands after fans were forced to leave having waited six hours after FP1 was stopped following just nine minutes of running on-track.

FP2 started at 2:30AM local time – 150 minutes after scheduled, on one of the most chastening days for F1 in the recent history of the sport.

The session did at least pass without incident, aside from a number of drivers misjudging the braking zone at the end of the impossibly long back straight running along The Strip itself.

However, before he even took to track Carlos Sainz was informed he’d been given a 10-place grid penalty for replacing his engine energy store after his car was damaged by the loose drain cover that started the farcical evening.

That disappointment is compounded for Ferrari as they look like the only team that can challenge Red Bull in Las Vegas, Sainz completed his team’s 1-2 on the timesheets with compatriot Fernando Alonso rounding out the top ten.

After carrying over their tyres from FP1, teams attempted to burn through their rubber as quickly as possible and most avoided race simulations.

Leclerc was half a second ahead of his teammate, with Alonso just a hundredth further back in a competitive top 10 that featured seven teams.

Red Bull were the only other constructor to get both cars in the top six with Sergio Perez fourth and Max Verstappen sixth, eight and nine-tenths behind Leclerc respectively. However, Verstappen looked impressive on his early medium tyre running and should find more performance come qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas was a surprise fifth, splitting the pair, while Nico Hulkenberg and Alex Albon also managed to finish in the top half on a rapidly evolving track.

Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton will hope to find more out of their respective machinery though, both were well over a second off Leclerc and may be swamped on such a high-speed track as things ramp up for qualifying and the grand prix.

Lando Norris had an early scare as his McLaren went into ‘limp-home’ mode, he was 11th as the Woking outfit struggled in the speed trap.

Positive first indications of Las Vegas GP track

Sergio Perez of Red Bull leads Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes during practice ahead of 2023 Las Vegas GP | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

For all the completely deserved backlash over the shambolic first day of running on The Strip Circuit, the track itself does look intriguing.

Cars look awesome flashing through the flat-out turn 13 up to Caesar’s Palace, while turn 14 should see plenty of overtaking moves if drivers are gutsy enough to brake late.

Leclerc and Verstappen even had an on-track battle, likely the first of many this weekend.

Even on the tighter track camera shots, the spectacular Las Vegas skyline is still visible and portrays the magnitude of F1 racing down one of the most famous streets in the world. When the grandstands are filled, it’ll be even better.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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