After months of negotiations, F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali flew from London’s FIA headquarters into the iconic Vegas Strip – announcing the addition of Las Vegas to 2023’s World Championship calendar.
Domenicali’s new deal seriously hit the jackpot – netting over $1.3 Billion across the next 10 years, representing Formula 1’s biggest single payday yet.
What Will The Track Look Like?
Taking full advantage of Sin City’s neon extravaganza, the upcoming street circuit is set to weave through many of Vegas’ most iconic casinos and hotels – Caesars Palace and the Bellagio to name just a couple.
At 6.12km, the Las Vegas Grand Prix circuit is set to be the third-longest track on the calendar, following Spa and Jeddah. Drivers will have to navigate 14 turns, 3 straights, a high-speed cornering sequence and a single chicane.
With a significant amount of straight line speed – especially down the iconic Vegas strip – the cars are expected to reach similar velocities to that at the ‘Temple of Speed’, Monza.
That’s an eye-watering 342 kmph – and a reason for the teams to keep their low-downforce specs on point.
What Do The Drivers Think?
Most of the 2022 lineup reacted the same way – sounding cries of ‘no way!’ and Sainz’s confused ‘is this true?’ across a short video segment capturing their bewildered first reactions.
“Hopefully we can all meet at the casino,” smirked a very amused Esteban Ocon. This was a common theme throughout – along with Ocon, Vettel, and a very confident Lando Norris – who suggested that he’d put all his earnings into #4 on the roulette wheel.
Yuki Tsunoda, Guanyu Zhou, and Kevin Magnussen shared their Vegas hype as well, with the former and latter giving thumbs ups at the potential of parties and Vegas’ infamous nightlife.
“Knowing that it’s a party city,” shares Lewis Hamilton, “it’s difficult for a racing driver! How are we going to focus that weekend? There’s going to be so much going on!” Fan favorite Daniel Riccardo also chirped up – even going so far as to say that the Vegas race may have delayed his retirement plans.
While most of the lineup seems ecstatic at the prospect of a week in Vegas, a few have kept up a serious front – least surprising of all, current champ Max Verstappen.
“I think a few drivers may not wake up for the race…so!” shares Verstappen. “Let’s not do back-to-back for this one. Let’s give it a two week break. Before and after.”
Valtteri Bottas also seemed to have Hangover style flashbacks as he groaned in front of the camera. “I’ve been to Vegas once,” he shared. “When I left, I said – ‘never again’ – but now I’m coming back. Maybe I’ll behave better this time.”
When Will The Race Be Held?
Surprisingly, part of the contract stipulates that instead of the usual Sunday schedule, the Las Vegas GP will kick off on Saturday – which is a primetime slot for American audiences.
As a result, the entire standard schedule will be shifted back by one day. This means that FP1 and FP2 will be held on a Thursday, FP3 and Qualifying on Friday, followed by a Saturday Night Race.
While no specific date has been announced, Formula 1 has confirmed that the race will be held ‘sometime’ in November 2023. In the meantime, Vegas will undergo a major resurfacing project to iron out bumps as much as possible. The cars will race down one side of the Las Vegas Strip to avoid taking out the central reservation, but the track is still expected to be around 12-15 meters wide.
Sounds great for F1 and the drivers, but what kind of winnings is Vegas looking to gamble for? An insider speaking to the Daily Mail explains:
“The local authorities have taken the view that any disruption the race will cause to the area is well worth the trouble. They will make money hand over fist in the casinos, hotels and restaurants. It is good for business all round. That is the conclusion all parties have come to.”
Las Vegas is set to become the 3rd Grand Prix in the United States, following Miami’s debut in May, and Austin’s upcoming October Grand Prix.
(Featured Image Credits: FIA, Formula 1)