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F1 Returns to Las Vegas

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Posted on November 16, 2023



All the sessions will take place at night, with unusual ambient and track temperatures for a race weekend; not dissimilar to those found back when pre-season testing used to take place in Europe.

Formula 1 previously raced at Las Vegas as the last round of the 1981 and 1982 seasons, with both events called the Caesars Palace Grand Prix. On each occasion the race decided the championship.


The following year’s race was won by Tyrrell’s Michele Alboreto with Williams driver Keke Rosberg taking the championship (and Ferrari winning the constructors’ classification).


Las Vegas Top Speed 340kmh+

The lap is 6.12 kilometres long, with an estimated top speed of 342kph.

For those familiar with Vegas, the finish line is on the corner of Harmon Avenue and Koval Lane, with the layout stretching from Las Vegas Boulevard to Sands Avenue and a race distance of 50 laps.

“This will be an incredible race, as every day is showtime in Las Vegas, and all of us working in Formula 1 want to put on the sort of spectacle that is worthy of this amazing city,” says Mario Isola.

Pirelli’s Head of Motorsport runs the extraordinarily proficient team who supply and select the boots F1 drivers rely on as they power around at 340kmh plus.

Las Vegas a major technical challenge

“Nobody has ever actually driven the 6.12-kilometre Las Vegas Strip circuit before, which is second only to Spa in terms of overall length this year, characterised by three straights and 17 corners.

“The surface will be a mix of the usual street asphalt, especially on the actual Strip, as well as other parts that have been completely re-asphalted for the occasion; adding another unknown element.

“There are no support races and the track will be opened again to normal traffic for long chunks of the day, which means that the surface won’t rubber in as usual and deliver improved grip.”

Mario Isola, Pirelli Head of Motorsport

The Pirelli guru expects the cars to run quite low levels of downforce, similar to Baku or indeed Monza: hitting a high top speed expected to be key to being competitive.

Those long straights also make it harder to warm up tyres in qualifying, as well as keep them in the right window: the same challenge as seen in Baku, which will probably be more pronounced in Las Vegas.

Perth is 16 hour ahead of Las Vegas

So, with the Las Vegas Grand Prix scheduled for a 22.00 start Saturday Nevada time, that’s a very respectable 2pm Sunday start back home in Perth. You can work out the rest!

The first free practice session takes place on Thursday at 20:30, while FP2 runs from 12 midnight to 01:00 on Friday. FP3 is on Friday at 20:30, with qualifying then taking place from midnight to 01:00 on Saturday, with lights out 22:00.

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

In cold conditions, the gap between cold tyre pressures and normal running pressures is greatly reduced – so when the car is moving, tyre pressure will increase a lot less than on other circuits due to the low asphalt temperatures.

As a result, Pirelli believes that running pressures will still be lower than on other circuits that are tough on tyres, such as Baku for example.

So, all the elements are in place for an extraordinary race, packed with surprises and unpredictability. As the title of Elvis Presley’s famous racing film goes…Viva Las Vegas! “

Always Party Time in Vegas

•             More than 30 different variants of the street track were designed before the final layout was selected. The main infrastructure, including the pit building in the shape of the F1 logo, as well as the pit lane and paddock was built in just over a year.


Why Leave Red Bull for Renault?

But his week’s remarkable ribald global disclosure doing the rounds recently – with Daniel Ricciardo front and centre – is well worth the read.

It involves Red Bull’s owner, the Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull F1 principal, Christian Horner. And Daniel.

Dietrich Markwart Eberhart Mateschitz was the co-founder and 49% owner of Red Bull GmbH. In April 2022, four months before he died at 78, his net worth was estimated at US$27.4 billion

According to Wiki[edia Dietrich, while travelling in Thailand, discovered the drink Krating Daeng, which he adapted into the iconic Red Bull energy drink. His company acquired or founded several sports teams around the world, including multi Constructors’ Champions Red Bull Racing and sister team AlphaTauri in Formula One, and association football teams including FC Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig.

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Daniel had long been a member of the Red Bull family – as a junior, then driver for Toro Rosso and later Red Bull – which made his move to Renault all the more extraordinary.

History shows he left a gun team that finished P3 in the 2018 standings for one that finished P4, and 297 points behind, in a decision that left Christian (never short of calling a spade a spade) wondering if the Aussie was “taking the piss”.

Heading Red Bull offer direct from the top

Image Dietrich Mateschitz

After Red Bull paired Daniel against the juvenile Max Verstappen in 2018, it was patently obvious that the cheeky teenage Dutchman was beginning to demonstrate just how good he really is.

And then 29-year-old Daniel, to which most Aussies would attest, was beginning to feel he was being overshadowed.

He decided to leave Red Bull but for a moment it appeared as if he was certain to say.

Opening up last week on a UK podcast, Horner said Red Bull were willing to match the $10 million contract they had just given Verstappen, fast becoming known globally as Mad Max.

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“So, we gave Max a contract at the beginning of that year in 2018 to secure his future,” said Christian, always a straight shooter.

“Daniel, I remember being upset at the time. He suddenly felt that ‘hang on, I don’t want to be the support act here.’ And I could tell he was starting to think of being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. He got a lot of noise in his ear and that this is the money that is also on the table [from other teams]. “But I remember I spoke to our owner Dietrich Mateschitz before the ’18 Austrian Grand Prix, and I said ‘it’s looking a bit marginal with Daniel, can you just show him some love? Because you know, Helmut [Marko], obviously very pro Max. But I think if you could just balance things out, just let him know that you want him.’

“‘No problem. I’ll speak to him.’ So he took him upstairs after the race in Austria and they were gone for well over an hour and then they re-emerged, they reappeared both with smiles on their faces.

Dietrich comes up to me, I said ‘well, how did it go?’ And he said ‘no problem. It’s not even a question.’

“I said: ‘Well, what did you agree with him?’ He said: ‘I said, we’ll give him whatever Max is on.’

“I was like, ‘Wow, do you know what we pay Max?’ And so I gave him the number and he said ‘who the f**k agreed to that?’ And I said ‘Well, you?’”

Well, the late great Dietrich, always true to his word when it came to the readies, offered Daniel the same deal, something Red Bull understood the amiable Aussie would agree to.

History reminds us Daniel was decidedly alarmed when his Renault engine exploded in Germany and, Christian recalled, Red Bull agreed to his request to cut his new deal from two years to one.

“Then he was doing a test for us after the Hungarian race and it was like, Daniel will sign the paperwork on Monday. And suddenly Monday goes and he’s in the car on Tuesday. And I’m saying that I’m starting to smell a little bit of a rat here, because this is an enormous [contract], you’d have thought he’d have been in a rush to sign.

“He didn’t sign it before he got in the car in the morning and then now he’s gonna sign out at lunchtime, and that didn’t happen. And then he’s had to get out the car and go straight to the airport because he’s flying here to LA. He’ll call you when he gets to LA. “So he rings me and he’s like ‘I’ve just got off the plane. I’ve been thinking on the flight on the way here. I’m not going to sign the contract. I’m going to take another contract.’ “I was like ‘wow, okay, have Mercedes or Ferrari come through with something?’ And he went ‘no, I’m going to sign for Renault,” blowing the Brit away!

The decision to leave a team fighting for wins and podiums to one way down the grid was one that shocked Horner, and the F1 world – particularly in Daniel’s home country, where debate was never ending. And rabid.

Heading Convinced Daniel Taking the Piss

Image Christian

“Because Daniel’s got a sense of humour, I was convinced he’s taking the piss here.

“‘You’re not going to Renault, stop f**king about, just tell me when you are going to sign that contract.’ So after about 10 minutes, he finally persuaded me that he was gonna go to Renault and it was disappointing.”

Horner claims that Ricciardo eventually went on to regret that decision.

“It actually was during the pandemic year, Daniel called me and he said ‘Christian, I hate to say this but you were absolutely right. And I apologise and all that and so on.’ “We just kept in touch, we’ve always had a good relationship. He’s a good guy. He was just badly advised at the time.”

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Heading Legendary Macau Grand Prix

Image Las Vegas 5 Macau GP

Pirelli returns to the Macau Grand Prix this weekend, as the winner of a multi-year tender to supply the FIA GT World Cup, with the Italian firm also supplying tyres for the Formula 3 World Cup.

Both events need no introduction, as the world’s most prestigious races in their respective categories, with Pirelli at the forefront since they each gained FIA status.

 Heading Previous winners underline the event’s reputation

Since the FIA GT World Cup was inaugurated eight years ago the victors have included GT champions like Raffaele Marciello and Augusto Farfus.

While the Formula 3 race – which dates back to 1983 – boasts Formula 1 multiple world champions Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher as previous holders of the trophy.

This unique history, combined with the incredible challenge of the 6.120-kilometre circuit, makes Macau an emblematic event on the world stage.

Five different manufacturers will contest the GT category – although a non-German manufacturer is yet to win – while the Formula 3 race uses the same specification of car as seen on the F1 support race package this year.

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