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A return to the neon lights: What you need to know about the Las Vegas F1 GP

The F1 track is lit during the opening ceremony for the Las Vegas Grand Prix on November 15. Picture: Angela Weiss / AFP.

The F1 track is lit during the opening ceremony for the Las Vegas Grand Prix on November 15. Picture: Angela Weiss / AFP.

Published Nov 16, 2023

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By Karunesh Matadin, Double Apex

Get ready for the ultimate showdown in Las Vegas – it’s not just about the glitzy lights anymore. From November 16 to 18, the city is revving up for the 2023 Las Vegas F1 GP, turning the streets into a high-speed battleground. The weekend promises to be packed with speed demons, high-revving engines, and fans getting their adrenaline fix.

This isn’t just any race; it’s Formula One’s grand return to the neon lights of Vegas. The last time F1 machines tore up the town was way back in 1981 and 1982. That event was held in a car park. And by all accounts it was a dreary affair.

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This year the circus makes a comeback with a street circuit designed showcase the speed of the cars. Picture a track weaving through iconic landmarks, lit up like a Christmas tree – it’s going to be a spectacle, that’s for sure.

It’s not just about the race. Las Vegas is throwing a three-day bash, making this Grand Prix more than just a rubber-burning extravaganza. Imagine diving into the world of Formula One while soaking up A-list music acts, gambling, live shows and a bunch of other attractions. The city is turning into a non-stop party celebrating speed and glamour.

A Unique Race Schedule

Get this – The Las Vegas Grand Prix is throwing a curveball at the usual race weekend. They’re turning Thursday into ‘practice day,’ with FP1 kicking off in the evening and FP2 revving up at midnight and rolling into Friday morning. Qualifying day? Same deal – FP3 on Friday evening, but qualifying starts at midnight, stretching into Saturday morning.

Both qualifying and the race? Happening on the same day. The race start time is making history as the latest ever in Formula One. It’s not just a challenge for the trackside crew; spare a thought for the folks back at most HQs pulling night shifts in the Race Support Room. It’s a wild schedule, bringing back memories of the grind starting around 02:00 for the Japanese GP.

Temps in the desert are in the single figure range around midnight. Drivers and cars will have a new challenge as they deal with uncharacteristcally cool weather. The main concern is about tyre warm-up and how it will affect some teams more than others. Maybe we will have a surprise winner this weekend…

A High-Speed Track

The 6,2 km Las Vegas Strip Circuit is no walk in the park. It’s the second-longest lap on the calendar, with 17 corners – tight turns, long straights, and a tricky pit exit. Drivers are going to hit speeds close to those experienced at Monza, with a whopping 78 per cent of the lap taken at full throttle. It’s a tricky dance between speed and downforce. Long straights will provide plenty of overtaking opportunities. Although the close proximity of walls and no run-off areas mean there is a hefty price to pay if you get it wrong.

A Battle for Championship Positions

As the season inches towards the finish line, the championship battles are heating up, and the2023 Las Vegas F1 GP is ground zero for the showdown. Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Lando Norris are gunning for second place. In the constructors’ championship it’s a close between Mercedes and Ferrari. The Las Vegas Grand Prix might just be the clincher.

Story courtesy of Double Apex