Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23. 18.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Race Day.
Charles Leclerc revealed how an earlier error from Sergio Perez under braking at Turn 14 made him certain he could complete a last-lap pass in the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Leclerc had led the inaugural race at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit but fell behind both of the Red Bull drivers when they pitted for fresh tyres under the Safety Car midway through.
But having relinquished second a few laps before, Leclerc remained close enough to Perez to utilise DRS down the 1.9km Strip to complete a lunge down the inside into Turn 14 on the last tour to regain the position.
Speaking after the race, the Monegasque driver disclosed how the timing of his overtake derived from observing that Perez had struggled at that corner previously.
Reflecting on the move that secured him the runner-up position to Max Verstappen, Leclerc said: “Once I went for it I was pretty confident it would work out. It was basically the only opportunity I had. It’s the only place where you can really go for an overtake.
“And I also had in mind that Checo had done a small mistake four or five laps before so I knew he was being cautious a little bit on braking. And in the second to last lap, I started to recharge the batteries in order to get ready for that last lap and it worked out.
“So it was obviously very, very tight but I was really happy and I really enjoyed the fight.”
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23 takes the chequered flag at the end of the race to finish second ahead of Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB19. 18.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Race Day.
After enduring close battles with both of the Red Bulls, Leclerc admits that he was surprised by the racing quality on display in the debut race at the new Las Vegas circuit.
“I loved the racing,” the Ferrari driver added. “I did not expect to have that much fun in the race because in FP2 I was following, I think, George [Russell] and I really struggled to overtake him.
“Then we went down on the downforce and today was much better. I had a lot more fun. So yeah, it was a really exciting race. And I’m pretty sure it was a really good one to watch. So, I’ll make sure I watch that race back.
Despite ultimately falling short of adding to its solitary victory this year from Singapore, Ferrari enjoyed its most competitive race day showing of the season in Las Vegas.
While the Italian marque avoided a repeat of the tyre degradation troubles that have stymied it during this year, Leclerc is wary that the cooler conditions helped Ferrari.
“I’m happy. However, I think this says a lot about our car and we are in conditions that are like nowhere else,” he acknowledged.
“It’s very, very cold and I think overheating here is not that much of an issue. But it was more graining and trying to keep those tyres in temperatures and on that we are pretty good.
“But whenever it’s warmer, we struggle more. So, it doesn’t give me any more confidence for the future because Abu Dhabi is going to be very different compared to here.
“On the other hand, it’s always nice to have a great weekend. And I think we’ve learned a lot as well for the future. So yeah, it’s a good weekend overall.”
Keyword: Leclerc: Earlier Perez Turn 14 error inspired last-lap Vegas pass