Statistics: New Las Vegas GP will be the 74th championship round not held on a Sunday

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Formula 1 will break with decades of tradition when it returns to Las Vegas next year for a new race which will take place on a Saturday.

However F1 won’t break new ground by holding a race on a day other than a Sunday. The first world championship race in 1950 took place on a Saturday and points-scoring rounds have been held on all seven days of the week.

But that was only the case during the first half of the world championship’s 73-year history. Every race on the 2022 F1 calendar is scheduled for a Sunday, as was also the case in the 36 preceding seasons. Not since the 1985 South African Grand Prix in Kyalami has F1 held a race on any other day.

The first world championship calendar in 1950 included seven events, the first of which took place at Silverstone on Saturday 13th May. Eight days later the field reassembled in Monaco for the first Sunday round of the championship.

Giuseppe Farina, Alfa Romeo, Silverstone, 1950
The world championship began on a Saturday in 1950
Round three of the inaugural championship took place on a Tuesday. This was the Indianapolis 500, which counted towards the drivers’ points tallies. The remaining four races of 1950 were all held on Sundays.

This established the pattern for the first decade of the world championship. The Indianapolis 500 continued to take place on America’s Memorial Day, whenever that fell in the week. That event became a Sunday fixture in 1974, but it has already made its last appearance on the championship calendar 14 years earlier.

The British Grand Prix continued to take place on a Saturday every year until 1975, during which time Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Aintree took turns holding the event. From 1976 Brands Hatch held its race on Sundays, but Silverstone continued to run its round on odd-numbered years on Saturdays, a practice which didn’t end until 1983.

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Other venues also held championship races outside of the ‘traditional’ Sunday around this time. The Dutch Grand Prix at the Zandvoort was held on a Monday three times between 1958 and 1961. South Africa joined the calendar in 1962 with a race on Saturday. Its race was occasionally schedule on or around New Year’s Day, and therefore took place on Fridays or Mondays.

F1’s previous event in Las Vegas also took place on a Saturday
F1’s first visit to Las Vegas in 1981 was also held on a Saturday. However the event, held on an unspectacular circuit in a casino car park, failed to excite the locals and only lasted two years.

By the mid-eighties every other race had moved to a Sunday, as the series embraced a more regular schedule. The South African Grand Prix dropped off the calendar after 1985, and when it returned for a two-year run in 1992-93, it was on a Sunday.

That 1985 race at Kyalami was the 73rd and final world championship race to date which wasn’t held on a Sunday. Together they account for less than 7% of all races held so far. But after decades of knowing race day is always Sunday, a generation of F1 fans will have to make an adjustment starting next year.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on “Statistics: New Las Vegas GP will be the 74th championship round not held on a Sunday”

  1. Nice bit of history, thanks for that.

    I don’t mind having a race on Saturday instead of Sunday, it’s gonna look cool to have this as a night race, and if it was on Sunday, it would be on at 4 or 5AM on monday morning. That is hardly ideal. This is the better option.

    1. @sjaakfoo I agree. Early Sunday AM is definitely more ideal same time Monday.

  2. Jonathan Parkin
    31st March 2022, 9:22

    It’s actually in Paradise not Las Vegas. The area is called the Las Vegas Strip, but it’s not in Las Vegas because of tax reasons

    So really it should be called the Paradise GP

    1. In the past we’ve had the Swiss Grand Prix in France, the Luxembourg Grand Prix in Germany, the San Marino Grand Prix in Italy and (most egregiously) the European Grand Prix in Asia, so I don’t think this matters too much.

    2. Take me down to the Paradise City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty…

      1. Hakk the Rack
        31st March 2022, 12:38

        Instead you would be welcome in the jungle.

  3. I feel sorry for the days of the week starting with T. They just get lumped together as “other.” I honour you, Tuesday and Thursday, even if the graph doesn’t. 😜

    1. Quite right too. What’s the point of a day without any racing?

    2. that was really strange a other day i was thinking about a eight day called other. Very Sloppy Keith. Racing on other days was normal in the old days (hear the old gezzer talking) transports delays, ect. ect.

  4. It will be Sunday elsewhere in the world, so it’ll happen around the same time as an Australian GP (best not to think too hard about that when you’re just waking up in Europe).

    If (and it’s a pretty safe bet for Vegas) there’s a The Sprint, qualifying could be on a Thursday for the first time since Monaco in 1995…

  5. Wow I didn’t know the first ever double header was at the first ever 2 GPs

  6. Midnight on the east coast. Five / six in the morning in Britain/Europe. Why annoy such a large part of the F1 audience?

    1. some racing fan
      3rd April 2022, 8:00

      It would actually be 1am on the east coast and 6/7 am in the morning in Britain/Europe. Nevada is Pacific time.

      1. some racing fan
        3rd April 2022, 8:00

        GMT -8

  7. It’s quite clever really. It gives die-hard F1 Fans their usual Sunday race but gives newbies Stateside an exciting Saturday night spectacle.

    I know it’s a street circuit but I can’t wait. If the racing’s boring at least you’ve got the fountains of The Bellagio or the faux Eiffel Tower of Paris, Paris in the background to ogle at. As much as Monaco is meant to be the ‘beautiful’ GP, with the exception of the stretches near the marina, it’s mostly crash barriers and tunnels!

    1. @sonnycrockett I don’t think I have ever heard of the Las Vegas Strip being referred to as “beautiful,” though.

      1. some racing fan
        3rd April 2022, 8:23

        It’s spectacular at night- not beautiful however. The night lights from the hotels and faux monuments of Las Vegas really give it a unique visual and atmosphere. It’s not for everyone though- I’m American and I personally don’t like Vegas, even with its excellent restaurants, the new sports arenas, the incredible nightlife (again, not for everyone), the plethora of event spaces, unique visual sights and specific hotels that offer incredible luxury and views. But I personally don’t like cigarette-smelling casinos (I personally don’t like casinos in general unless I’m playing poker), stupid faux copies of real-life famous monuments (you can even go on a fake gondola ride in the Venetian Hotel, which this track coincidentally passes) walking through cigarette-smelling hotel lobbies, the original northern Vegas strip and walking on streets literally covered with paper ads for nearby strip clubs (the Strip/Las Vegas Blvd is the worst offender of the latter). Vegas can also be quite sleazy- but not nearly as sleazy as it used to be. In the old days, Vegas was a sleazy, tacky gambler’s town, like it was when the embarassing Caesars Palace GP was held. Now, after the corporations took over from the Teamsters union as a source of funding the casino’s operations (which is a story all in itself), it’s still a gambler’s town but it is just as much an events and nightlife city- a kind of Disneyland for adults.

        But to be honest Vegas is a deeply polarizing place- you either love it, or you hate it. It really is one of the most bizarre, tacky and gaudy places in the world- it honestly has to be seen to be believed- and the contrast between Vegas during the day and Vegas at night is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Vegas during the day looks like an abandoned desert graveyard- it is one of the most depressingly ugly and dead places you’ll ever see or visit. But at night- Vegas really comes alive. So much so that it doesn’t even feel like the same place. But again- it’s not for everyone.

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