George Russell, Mercedes, Las Vegas Strip Circuit, 2023

Russell suspects Las Vegas track won’t produce the exciting race it was designed for

Formula 1

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George Russell is concerned the Las Vegas Grand Prix circuit may not achieve its goal of producing close racing.

Many drivers have characterised the track’s layout as simplistic compared to other venues the series visits. However the long straights on the Las Vegas Strip Circuit were expected to provide good overtaking opportunities and produce a lively race.

Russell acknowledged this was the thinking behind the track’s design. “For the 20 drivers it’s not going to be the most enjoyable circuit we’ve driven in the whole season,” he said. “But this is a sport that millions and millions of people tune in every single week to watch and probably the majority of people understands what a great race is and overtaking and battles.

“But only probably the diehard fans can really appreciate the greatness of a circuit like Silverstone or Suzuka or Monaco. So times are definitely changing and I think we just have to embrace it, really.”

However he’s concerned that as drivers are likely to use low downforce configurations, their Drag Reduction Systems will lack power on the straights, and overtaking will not be as easy as was predicted.

“It’s definitely not going to be an iconic circuit in terms of its layout,” said Russell. “I think it’s been designed to try to enhance racing. [But] I’m not too sure how good the race is going to be.

Las Vegas Strip circuit track map
Track data: Las Vegas Strip Circuit
“Of course there’s big, long straights, but because we’re all on minimum downforce the slipstream effect won’t be that great. The DRS I think is worth about one tenth per straight. When you compare that to someone like Barcelona, it’s worth six tenths on the straight.

“So it may not actually be as straightforward as one may think to race.”

Russell’s team mate Lewis Hamilton hopes the track’s similarities to the Baku City Circuit means it will produce a lively race.

“From a racer’s perspective, you want to have the best show,” he said. “If the race track provides races like, for example, Baku – which is in terms of racing is one of the best races, lots of overtaking – that would be amazing. Rather than just one car disappearing and cars [are] not overtaking, for example.”

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2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix

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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...
Claire Cottingham
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14 comments on “Russell suspects Las Vegas track won’t produce the exciting race it was designed for”

  1. Considering that i do not and never will consider drs to produce good racing then i was never expecting this awful excuse for a circuit to produce good racing.

    The fact that modern tracks are designed around the drs gimmick with the hope that boringly long straights will produce a lot of boringly easy push of a button highway passes is frankly saddening and why modern circuits tend to pale in comparison to the classics that were designed to be good circuits that challenged cars and drivers!

    1. Lynda, I think the problem is that modern cars have such good brakes and downforce that there is virtually no braking zone any more. Gone are the days when cars could go side by side down a straight and you were left wondering who would brake last, and would it be too late. Maybe the answer is to get rid of DRS and instead halve the size of the brake disks and make them go back to using steel brakes instead of carbon fibre.

  2. this track looks like a pig to drive

    1. I agree that the configuration is reminiscent of a pig just like Spa-Francorchamps reminds a hand gun, or Monza a boot, etc.

  3. A “simplistic” pig of a track somehow has 17 turns. I guess the front trotter accounts for nearly a third of them.

    1. I’m also baffled & don’t know how FIA has managed to get that many corners, especially four at the beginning section even though it only has true by definition, i.e., T1 & the left-hander preceding Koval lane straight.
      Corner exits can’t possibly count as separate corners as otherwise, they should also count Interlagos’ T3 exit separately or Yas Marina’s long-ish new-for-2021 corners, etc., for consistency’s sake.

  4. Bahrain outer circuit was a decent race in 2020 and it was simple circuit. So, fingers crossed it may not be as dull as predicted.

  5. Too early for such pessimism, although the Strip section DRS zone could start a bit earlier, for example, at the slight left marked as T13 like on F1 23.
    I don’t think DRS would prove unnecessarily overpowered if the activation zone began only that much earlier.

  6. Of the 20 drivers on the grid, Lewis is the least favourably placed to be complaining of cars driving off into the distance

    1. Mog, couldn’t you leave your biases at the door for once? Yes, he won a lot of races where he drove off into the distance. So what? Did you expect him to say “Oooh, I’m winning by a mile, I’ll go slower to try to give everyone else a chance”? No matter what his past results, he can still have an opinion that it doesn’t make a great racing spectacle. And it was an opinion. He wasn’t calling up journalists and complaining.

  7. And he’s probably being polite.

  8. Imma terribly sorry to dissappoint mr. Russell, but it was never intended to.

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