Two races down and the new Formula 1 season has just got even more interesting than it did a week ago. With a look at all the action on and off the grid it's our regular season roundup here on TrackDays…
It would appear that the fuelling problems that Team Red Bull's Max Verstappen encountered at the Bahrain GP were but a temporary blot on the copybook. After a nail biting race, where he was neck and neck with Team Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, the current World Champion notched up his first pole position of the season at last Sunday's Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in Jeddah (27th March).
With a final race time of 1:24:19, he just managed to overtake Leclerc within a tight margin of 0.5 seconds, ensuring that not only did he have his first GP win of the season, but that he hoisted himself comfortably up the season-to-date standings, where he now places third.
Verstappen wrote on his Twitter account after the race, saying that it "feels amazing to be on top after such an exciting race … It was definitely not easy out there today but it's really nice to battle like that. Very happy we were able to put it all together and kickstart the season."
Ferrari's Leclerc meanwhile finished an agonisingly close second, with his team mate Carlos Sainz Jr completing the top 3. However, the 19 points he added to his season-to-date standings means he has the advantage over Verstappen for now - quite comfortably in fact, on 45 points to his 25.
F1's profile and growth in the North American market has been gradually building up over the last few years since new owners Liberty Media came on board in 2017, what with the success of the Austin GP and also the forthcoming addition of Miami to this year's calendar in May.
But now the West Coast of the States - specifically, the Nevada desert - will be a fixture from next year onwards, as Las Vegas will host a Grand Prix come 2023, F1 chiefs have confirmed today (31st March).
The first Las Vegas Grand Prix will take place next season on a 3.8 mile long circuit, part of which will incorporate the famous gambling mecca and resort city's Strip. The race will be a Saturday evening one, taking place at 10pm local time (so will thus be shown at 6am here in the UK and Europe).
Speaking in a statement released today, F1 president Stefano Domenicali welcomed the new addition, saying "This is an incredible moment for F1 that demonstrates the huge appeal and growth of our sport with a third race in the US." The initial three year contract will guarantee that F1 comes to Las Vegas until 2025.
Team Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel has been absent from the track since the start of this season, owing to illness with COVID which left him out of the running at both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, leaving his team mate Nico Hülkenberg to stand in for him.
The good news is that he has now recovered and been given the all-clear, and today it has been confirmed that he will return for next Sunday's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne (10th April).
It will be his second season at Aston Martin, and following last year's difficult start with them (where he only achieved a top 5 finish at the Monaco and Belgian Grand Prixs) he'll be hoping for improved fortunes.
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