F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix 2023: Max Verstappen converts Charles Leclerc pole as winless streak continues
Max Verstappen claimed his 18th win of the 2023 season at the Las Vegas Grand Prix despite strong showing from pole-sitter Charles Leclerc
The inaugural F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix 2023 saw Max Verstappen take his 18th win of the campaign, extending Charles Leclerc's pole-win curse. The Monégasque driver has 23 pole positions to his name but has only converted five into wins.
When the lights went out in Sin City, it wasn't long before Verstappen overtook the pole-sitter into the opening bend. When the pair arrived at the Turn 1 hairpin, the Red Bull ran the Ferrari to the edge of the track and off, prompting the stewards to issue the driver a five-second penalty.
Despite a controversial start to the race weekend, the Las Vegas Grand Prix saw many twists and turns with Verstappen and Leclerc going blow-for-blow. Ultimately, Leclerc was undone by the second of two safety cars, which allowed Verstappen to change his tyres and gain an advantage over the Ferrari driver.
By the end of the race, Leclerc - who had slipped down to third after outbreaking himself - made a late lunge on Sergio Perez and stole second place at the apex. While the race pace was promising from Ferrari, the result accumulated in another Charles Leclerc pole that Max Verstappen converted into a win.
Remarkably, Charles Leclerc has only converted 21% of his pole positions into a win. Out of the Ferrari driver's 23 poles, Max Verstappen has taken 11 wins off of him, more than twice the amount of times Leclerc has emerged triumphant after a stellar Saturday.
René Arnoux - a French driver who between 1978 and 1989 managed to take pole position eighteen times - holds the record for the lowest percentage of converted poles - crossing the line first only twice in his career.
On the other hand, Max Verstappen has converted 84% of his 31 pole positions into wins. In 2023 alone, Verstappen has seen the chequered flag first after each of his 11 pole positions whereas Leclerc has failed to convert a single one of his five poles this year into a win.
Elsewhere in the race, Carlos Sainz recovered from 12th on the grid to finish sixth, following a controversial 10-place grid penalty he was awarded for exceeding his engine part allowance. It was a mixed bag for Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton advancing from 10th to finish seventh whereas team-mate George Russell was demoted from fourth to eighth after receiving a five-second penalty for his collision with Verstappen.