The Formula 1 World Championship returns to Las Vegas for the first time since 1982, when the city last held what was then known as the Caesars Palace Grand Prix. That race was held in the parking lot of the palace, but the new Las Vegas Grand Prix scheduled for this weekend promises to be a much more spectacular event, as it will see F1 cars race down the famous Strip.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix serves as the penultimate round of the 2023 season, and will run on a street circuit known as the Las Vegas Strip Circuit. The circuit features a 17-corner, 3.85-mile long track, which is second only to Spa-Francorchamps in length. The race is scheduled to run for 50 laps.
The circuit captures several of the city’s most famous landmarks in its backdrop, including the new Sphere, and since it’s a night race, many of the city’s neon lights will also be present. However, some of the street fixtures, particularly manhole covers, are proving to be an issue. A concrete surround to a manhole cover came loose after Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz drove over it during a Thursday practice session, damaging his car and ending the session early.
The circuit’s layout consists of a short run from the start line to the first corner, a tight left-hander followed by a series of more flowing corners which lead onto one of two long straights and the first of two DRS zones. The second sector is all about speed, with the drivers accelerating out of Turn 9, going into a sharp left which leads onto the second straight as the cars fly down the Strip, including the second DRS zone. After that comes a narrow chicane at Turns 14, 15 and 16 which leads back to the main straight.
Simulations show that drivers will need to use full throttle for almost 80% of a lap and that top speeds, estimated to be around 212 mph, will be second only to those achieved at Italy’s Monza.
The ideal setup will be a car that delivers a high top speed while retaining enough mechanical grip and downforce for the low-speed corners. For the tires, Pirelli has nominated its softest compounds: the C3 as the white hard, the C4 as the yellow medium, and the C5 as the red soft. Because the race will be run at night, changing ambient and track temperatures will likely affect grip levels.
Red Bull Racing and star driver Max Verstappen have already won the championship, but Verstappen hasn’t slowed one bit, especially as each additional win increases his record for wins in a season. His record tally stands at 17 ahead of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Going into Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Verstappen’s points tally in the 2023 Drivers’ Championship stands at 524 points. Fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez is second with 258 points and Mercedes-Benz AMG’s Lewis Hamilton is third with 226 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull sits on 782 points. Mercedes is second with 382 points and Ferrari is third with 362 points.
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