‘Vegas proved them wrong’: Hamilton hits back at doubters over F1 race debut

<span>Photograph: Darron Cummings/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Darron Cummings/Reuters

Lewis Hamilton has led a chorus of approval from Formula One drivers and team principals for the inaugural running of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion also pointedly noted the race, one of the best of the season, had proved the naysayers wrong, in apparent reference to the world champion Max Verstappen who had been repeatedly negative about the meeting this weekend.

Related: Las Vegas Grand Prix: F1 hits Sin City – in pictures

“For all those who said it was all about the show, Vegas proved them wrong,” Hamilton said. “The race was great, it was one of the best races. There have been so many people who have been negative about the show and all that – but just let it be, see how it goes and it was huge.”

Verstappen, who won on the street circuit, had been critical of the meeting’s focus on presenting a Formula One “show” in Las Vegas but on race day a gripping race was delivered. There was passing in abundance, the lead changing hands multiple times, and action across the field over almost all of the 50 laps.

Hamilton was seventh after a tricky race during which he had fallen to 19th after a clash with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, but the British driver was full of praise for the event.

“This has provided a better race than most of the tracks we go to,” he said. “Hats off to the people who ran the show. I cannot wait to come back and hopefully have a better race next year. I am really grateful to Vegas for having us.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who finished second, was similarly effusive. “I really enjoyed it,” he said. “There was no better race for a first race in Vegas, the energy around the city is incredible.”

The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, believed it had made a fundamental difference to the sport’s profile in the US.

“That was an awesome weekend,” he said. “It was a mega event, it ticked all the boxes. We are leaving Las Vegas after a great weekend, great racing at the front, the spectacle was mega and I think it will have increased the popularity of F1 in the United States for sure. There is nothing negative I can find, an extraordinary event.”

Joining what was very much a celebratory post-race assessment the Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, was also optimistic of the impact it would have on the potential US audience.

“Look at the interest in this race, it has been phenomenal,” he said. “Las Vegas delivered one of the best races of the year, if not the best race of the year. Hopefully that is igniting the interest of the American public to F1.”