Las Vegas, 2022

F1 teams braced for unusual challenge of “winter test” conditions at Las Vegas GP

Formula 1

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Formula 1 teams expect one of the biggest challenges of the new Las Vegas Grand Prix is the cold conditions which are predicted.

Although night races such as the new Las Vegas event have become a familiar feature of modern F1, most take place in hot conditions, such as this weekend’s round in Qatar. But F1’s new event on the Las Vegas Strip Circuit, which will start at 10pm local time in the US city, is expected to see ambient temperatures in single digits.

F1 cars seldom run in such cold conditions. Temperatures this low have only recently been seen during pre-season testing when it took place at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain during February. Some races were held in unseasonably cool conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic when tracks were seldom open to spectators.

Pirelli is yet to confirm which tyre compounds it will bring for the combination of low temperatures and high speeds expected on a track which will feature a long, flat-out run along the Las Vegas Strip. AlphaTauri’s technical director Jody Egginton said that will present an unusual mixture of challenges for teams to adjust to.

“It’s got many long straights, quite a few low-speed corners, not so much high-speed content. So maybe a track similar to Baku, that sort of layout.

“The temperatures are going to be probably one of the biggest challenges. I think we’re expecting circuit 10 degrees of ambient, so very much like the winter test. In many years we’ve done winter tests in Barcelona at those sorts of temperatures.

“So it’s not going to be completely new to us. But definitely it’s quite a step away in terms of where we’re going to be operating the car and tyres to what we’re used to in a normal season.”

Mercedes’ head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin said teams may find themselves taking to the track in conditions so cold that, if they were testing, they might not bother running.

“It’ll depend on exactly how cold it is. If the track is down in single figures, that’s often a region where you go winter testing, you do a run, it’s very difficult for the tyres to either get them switched on, or there may be graining and things. And then sometimes you just wait until it warms up a bit. So actually going to have to sort of race and qualify in those conditions, it will be interesting.

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“But you just try and identify the risks with the new circuit, work out what your contingencies will be, whether you need any sort of specific car spec to deal with that, and we’re going through those at the moment. But as I said, if it’s at the very cold end of predictions, it’s difficult to know how they are going to work.”

F1 owners Liberty Media have long coveted a race in Las Vegas. They have set high expectations for the newest addition to the calendar, F1’s first race in the region for over 40 years, and its third round to take place in the United States of America this season.

The series added a new race in Miami last year to its existing event in Austin, Texas, which has been part of the calendar since 2012. Lewis Hamilton believes F1 has adopted the right approach to win over American audiences.

“I think it’s going to be very fruitful for the business,” he said. “I have always thought that having more races in the States [was needed] – it’s a huge market, there’s a massive sporting fanbase there.

“To really crack that takes absolutely more than one race in the US. And I think you’ve seen that we have started to to grow there a lot.”

He is encouraged by what he’s seen of F1’s plans for the race and expects the event will be a success.

“Vegas is just iconic. This is such an iconic place. I think in the dream of driving down with all those casino lights is cool, everyone’s watched the movie Casino, right? So I’m really excited about getting to experience it.

“Whether or not the race – I don’t know what the race will give it in terms of, whether it’s going to be a great racing circuit for us or not, I have not driven it. So we’ll go and see. But I’m always down to add great races and great venues.

“As long as it’s good for the people, as long as it’s great for racing, it’s not putting people to sleep. I don’t think that one will, I think it’ll be an exciting weekend for us all.”

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29 comments on “F1 teams braced for unusual challenge of “winter test” conditions at Las Vegas GP”

  1. some racing fan
    5th October 2023, 8:34

    In a perfect world, Miami and Vegas should just switch dates- the average 10p temp in Vegas in early May is 70-75F (21-24C). But since NFL and the University of Miami American gridiron football takes place at Hard Rock Stadium, it’s next to impossible to do that…

    1. Not to mention the Atlantic Hurricane season limits flexibility for the Miami GP.

  2. Jeffrey Powell
    5th October 2023, 8:57

    In a world where F1 can become a bit tedious ( I am not blaming Max for this ,things just happen). At least this jamboree of street races gives boring old gits like me the opportunity for a good dose. Watching the Singapore race a few weeks ago , even though it threw up a surprise result, I looked at the circuit enclosure and imagined they were doing an unsuccessful prison break . I’ve been to Monaco a couple of times Canada and Aus. are great but the rest of them leave me cold, as I imagine Vegas will do.

  3. While single-digits are possible, they’d more likely hit the coldest phase, i.e., actual night hours rather than the late-evening ones when the ambient would be something like 12, 13, if the highest were 17, for example.

  4. Sounds like a challenge. I’m all for it

    1. +1

      Look at the races in Korea. Those were a challenge and it produced amazing racing. Meanwhile, let’s see how much whining we see elsewhere about this.

    2. Indeed, i don’t understand the complaining, the more variety we have more chances of a different result.

  5. Presumably with an overly smooth low-grip surface, like Miami, making it impossible to overtake with zero grip off the racing line. Throw in cold temperatures and we’ll see drivers nursing the cars around those slow corners ensuring they don’t break traction and slide destroying their tyres.

    Indeed this is one race I’m not all that excited for.

    I mean, I’ll probably still watch it… but I reserve the right to complain about it.

    1. @justrhysism
      Just maybe it throws the teams with high tire wear a bone, while at the same time nerfing Red Bull which seems the best of the class in this regard. We have already see them struggle to get temperature in their tires

      I’ll probably watch it, for the reason to be able to complain about it..
      Like Waldorf & Statler

  6. We’re racing Qatar in October (without logistic reason) and Las Vegas in November (again, without logistic reason). What a brilliant sport.

    1. Cash rules everything. F1 is sucking the fat money sausage.

  7. I feel this could be a repeat of the 2010 Canadian grand prix which could make it interesting. If we get an unpredictable race I will be happy. I don’t see the layout being a classic though so it will come down to what happens with the tyres and how different cars get into the operating window.

  8. If temperatures drop into i think it’s single digits then Indycar don’t run. A rule brought in after the 1992 Indy 500 that turned into a driver injuring wreck fest due to the cold temperature’s causing havoc with tyre temperatures.

    I’ve driven the track a bit in the sims and the official game and it’s up there as one of the worst tracks I’ve ever lapped in the sim world. It’s just so boring to drive and there’s just no part of it that is especially interesting or challenging or which you look forward to getting to each lap. It’s very Valencia & Sochi in that regard.

    But flashy lights and people willing to pay money for tickets that no actual fan of the sport could afford.

    1. If the hospitality worker strike is still in effect then, all those people who paid all that money for the Vegas experience are going to be severely disappointed.

  9. Vegas, gambling, it’s just an awful, stupid culture, it’s a pity F1 is getting involved with it

    1. @zann
      While I agree in the sense that it’s not for me and highly unlikely I’ll ever visit the place…
      But Monaco is hardly any better is it?

      1. At least Monaco has a nice setting, is quite pretty and has history on it’s side. The circuit is a real challenge as well. All unlike this godforsaken place. They have tried a GP in Vegas before. It didn’t work. We are supposed to learn from history I thought?

      2. Yes Monaco, at least it doesn’t have 10,000 or whatever slot machines and the lights, but yes it’d dump it as well, for the hopeless racing! But anyway one gambling circuit doesn’t justify two, it’s bad ethics getting worse.

    2. Vegas is the worst. Doesn’t mean the race itself will be the worst. I’ll never see it person though despite living a 55 minute flight away in Santa Barbara.

      As for the Monaco comment. You can walk around Monte Carlo and not even realize it’s an area for gambling let alone being looking like Disney Land with gambling instead of rides.

  10. Expect the red Bull doing bad in the first 2 laps and even Perez not making Q3 as the car doesn’t heat up fast enough ….

  11. Coventry Climax
    5th October 2023, 13:42

    Vegas, middel of Mohave desert. Not a place to build a big city.
    Gets 90% of it’s water from Lake Mead, which is fed by the Colorado river.
    Have a look at this.
    At first, it seems 2023 is doing quite well again, until you turn on the years 2018, 2019 and 2020 as well. That’s when more of a trend becomes apparent, with 2023 the outlier.
    Not OK.

    I wish F1 would stop concentrating on road relevance, and start to get world relevant.

    1. Good point. The location is terrible for the environment. Every extra person there destroys the nearby lakes and rivers.

      1. Bad point, lets move everyone to temperate climates then. Everyone from Scandinavia out!, everyone from equador and desert out too.

  12. Jonathan Parkin
    5th October 2023, 15:22

    Liberty Media have long coveted a race in Las Vegas yet they choose to have it in Paradise, not Las Vegas

    1. No one knows the difference except for the “people” who actually live there or visit often.

  13. It won’t be so bad, I’m not sure if tyre allocations have been announced for Vegas yet but given the circuit nature I expect C3-C5. Although ambient temperature will drop quickly the track temperature will be higher. Hopefully someone from the midfield can dial in the tyres and give a good run to the podium for a bit of excitement.

  14. But I don’t think they’ve ever winter tested in Monza or the old Hockenheim, so this sounds like dangerous uncharted territory for the tyres, considering Vegas’s similarly extensive full throttle phases. At the end of those long straights, the tyre surface is likely to repeatedly get pretty cold relative to the carcass.

  15. So single digit temperatures and some of the longest straights on the calendar is fine, but foregoing warming the tyres is a big drama, even though Pirelli said the planned new compound would be up to temperature before the end of the outlap? Makes sense.

    Anyway, it’ll probably be fine – and provide a welcome excuse for those who need one.

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