Sphere, turns six and seven, Las Vegas Strip Circuit, 2023

“Vast” Las Vegas Sphere is too big to be a distraction – Russell

Formula 1

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Formula 1 and the FIA have agreed restrictions on the use of the giant Sphere overlooking the Las Vegas Strip Circuit to prevent drivers being distracted by it this weekend.

However George Russell says the enormous structure, which is lined with video screens, is so large drivers will be able to ignore it.

The Sphere Exosphere is the largest LED screen on earth, comprising 1.2 million separate ‘pucks’, each containing 48 diodes. It is capable of displaying 256 million different colours. However, in order to ensure drivers do not mistake it for the LED light panels stationed around the track, the colours red, yellow and blue will not be used during track sessions.

However Russell believes drivers are unlikely to be distracted by the eye-catching structure. “We’ve often got LED lights around us, but never so much in your peripheral,” he said. “And it’s a pretty spectacular building to say the least.

“I recognise they’ve banned those three colours but I think with the the vastness of that, if I saw a big red ball on there I don’t think I’d be backing off thinking it was a red flag.

“But I think that’s one of the exciting things about this race is we’re going into a bit of unknown territory with bits and pieces like that.”

However Valtteri Bottas said the quantity of other coloured light panels around the circuit besides the Sphere will make Las Vegas a different experience to F1’s other night races.

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“Every night race, you have quite a bit of reflections, but more colours here,” said the Alfa Romeo driver.

Although the Sphere is “quite bright” Bottas is unsure how much of a distraction it will be. “In the evening, it is bright. We are obviously looking quite low, the sphere is obviously quite high up. So we’ll find out.”

“We always have different visor options, you can use different levels of dimming if you want, but that also depends on the light and track itself,” he added. “I think it’s going to be fine, probably a bit more going on, but normally we tend to look ahead.”

F1 will use the Sphere to display graphics including driver information, real-time pole position data, helmet designs and more during the race weekend. It overlooks turns five to nine on the 17 corner track.

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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
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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7 comments on ““Vast” Las Vegas Sphere is too big to be a distraction – Russell”

  1. I thought they would have used to display the driver’s helmets….

  2. Black, black-and-white, orange-circled black or meatball as some people like to call it, white, red-striped yellow, green, & chequered flag colors can also distract, so basically all colors or color combinations used for indication purposes in circuit-racing.

  3. This makes me wonder, has F1 ever had a colour blind driver participating?

    1. Not to my knowledge.

    2. @exeviolthor in the modern era, the vision tests set by national motorsport bodies include tests for colour blindness, as they state that it is vital that a driver can tell all of the different flag types apart. It’s possible that, before the introduction of those tests, a driver might have been able to compete in Formula 1 whilst still having some degree of colour blindness, but if they did, it’s not readily apparent.

      There are some figures in the sport who are colour blind, but we are talking about team personnel – Martin Whitmarsh mentioned a number of years ago that he is colour blind (which did have the side effect of making it difficult for him to interpret weather radar plots).

      As an aside, there is an interesting side fact – you might recall that, if you go back 4-5 years ago, Pirelli had a wide range of different colour markings for the different slick tyres they were producing. If you are wondering why Pirelli picked those specific colours, it turns out they deliberately chose combinations of colours that people with different forms of colour blindness could still tell apart fairly easily.

      1. Nice info! Thanks!

    3. You have to have a physical for racing licenses

      Pretty sure no one managed to sneak through the system!

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