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Put the best driver in the best car and, all other factors being equal, he will win races. This is a state of affairs which has prevailed since before Tazio Nuvolari was in short trousers. And yet it appears to come as an entirely new development to those who consume or report on Formula 1 on a casual basis, judging by the hand-wringing which has accompanied Max Verstappen’s third world title.

Of course, the best drivers also have a knack of finding their way into the best cars. In our cover feature this month we examine how Max stands up in comparison with the other greats of F1. So far Max has been a (mostly) one-team man, living with some early disappointments as Red Bull re-engineered itself back to the front. The late, great Juan Manuel Fangio might not have been so patient; ever the gentleman on track, he was ruthless in beating his path to the most competitive cars and teams year-on-year.

As such, amid the palpable ennui of a season finale in Abu Dhabi which was a dead rubber apart from the remaining constructors’ championship placings, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s suggestion that Lewis Hamilton had approached him for a drive went off like a grenade. Horner adores making mischief for his rivals but even he seemed taken aback by the speed with which this story gained momentum on a slow-news weekend. Perhaps it’s a good thing there were no mobile phones in Fangio’s day…

Another contributory factor to the peculiar atmosphere at Yas Marina was the race in Las Vegas the previous weekend. Formula 1 had so much riding on the success of Vegas that it and various other stakeholders seemingly popped into a parallel universe in which no criticism of the event was permitted. Equally there were those determined to hate it even if the weekend had proceeded flawlessly. When the inevitable teething troubles set in – loose metalwork forcing a delayed schedule and then a poorly explained clearing of the grandstands – the constituency of fans and media predisposed to criticise tucked in with glee.

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Clearly the Las Vegas GP is a work in progress. As Motorsport Images snapper Andy Hone reports from the front line (p62), it’s too early to make rigid judgements – this is an event which needs to mature into the calendar. What makes this process challenging is the unsociable hours enforced by the need to keep the Strip open for business-as-usual by day. Few of those working in F1 actually enjoyed the experience; it was natural, therefore, that this negativity leaked out despite the commercial rights holder’s attempts to spin the contrary.

Next season Las Vegas sits at the beginning of a triple header. But, hey, you can stay at a beach resort for the next two races…