2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix: Qualifying Tyre Analysis – Charles Leclerc is the first pole sitter at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit. The Ferrari driver dominated qualifying, fastest in all three mini-sessions. Proving the Maranello marque’s superiority is the fact that Carlos Sainz was second fastest, just 44 thousandths behind his team-mate: 1’32″726 for the Monegasque, 1’32″770 for the Spaniard. However, Sainz must take a ten-place grid penalty following the change of battery pack for his power unit. Therefore, it will be Max Verstappen (1’33″104) lining up alongside Leclerc after he just snatched third, beating George Russell by a mere eight thousandths in Q3.
This was Leclerc’s 23rd pole position, his fifth this year. For Ferrari, it’s number 249, its seventh this season.
It was clear in the third free practice session that the track being reopened to road traffic overnight had significantly reset the condition of the track surface. Therefore, throughout the session, lap times came down considerably as the track evolved and this continued into qualifying to the extent that by the end, the fastest time was not that far off the one predicted by earlier simulations.
The Pirelli Pole Position Award was presented to Leclerc by the American actor, Patrick Dempsey, recently voted by “People” magazine as the sexiest man of 2023. While he is best known for his role in the popular TV series “Grey’s Anatomy”, Dempsey is also involved in motor racing as a driver who has taken part in many GT races, including finishing second in 2015 in the GTE category at the Le Mans 24 Hours and as a team owner. Confirming his close ties to racing, he has also played the role of racing driver Piero Taruffi in the film “Ferrari” directed by Michael Mann.
Mario Isola – Pirelli Director of Motorsport
“This was definitely a spectacular evening, with some surprises as well as some predictable results. From a purely technical point of view, we saw a qualifying session in which teams adopted various different approaches. There were some who did a preparation lap after their out-lap and others who pushed hard right away, which allowed for a long run in Q1, doing one quick lap, followed by one or two cool down laps, while others tried to make the best use of the greater grip offered by new rubber. It’s hard to say which method proved most effective because track evolution was very significant, more important than any other factor. This was entirely predictable, partly because it was clear that the track was almost back to the condition it was in at the start of yesterday, mainly down to the fact it had been reopened to normal traffic.
Looking ahead to tomorrow night’s race, it’s clear that the Hard and Medium are the compounds best suited to tackle the scheduled 50 laps. There are various options on the table, both in terms of which sets the teams will choose to give back at the end of the day, and based on the impact of graining, which was significant again today, because of the aforementioned comments on the state of the track. If tomorrow, this phenomenon becomes less of a factor as the track rubbers in, then the one-stop should be quickest, otherwise a two-stop could prove to be competitive. Then, the choice of which compound to use the most will also depend on choices made today and, maybe, it could also open a window for the Soft for the final part of the race.”