Logan Sargeant, Williams, Las Vegas, 2023

F1 teams see no easy fix for exhausting Las Vegas Grand Prix schedule

Formula 1

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Formula 1 team principals hailed the new Las Vegas Grand Prix as a success but several acknowledged the schedule placed extreme demands on their staff.

The series returned to the city or the first time in over four decades last weekend. Despite a faltering start as the first night practice was badly disrupted, the race was widely acclaimed as one of the best of the year.

F1 took the rare step of investing in the race and promoting it directly. Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur said they raised the bar for future rounds.

“On the show and the event and so on I think it was mega,” he said. “This will be probably a new standard for the F1 and honestly I appreciate it.

“Now, we were all a bit scared about the sporting side, but it was also probably the best race of the season. It means that overall it’s a mega-good event.”

However Vasseur, like many involved in the event, said the decision to hold the track sessions late at night made the schedule extremely demanding. The race started at 10pm and qualifying was held at midnight. The postponed second practice session eventually began at 2:30am and ran until four in the morning.

The late times came about because the roads used for the street track had to be reopened in between sessions. But running late at night in America’s Pacific Time Zone meant the track action took place at inconvenient times for F1 fans further east in Europe, as well as on the east coast of the USA.

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Vasseur said addressing that will be difficult. “If we have to improve, perhaps the timing,” he said. “It’s not an easy one to find if you want to have decent timing for Asia, Europe, east coast, west coast.

Vasseur sees little chance to reijg the schedule
“In the past we had no issue because F1 was just for the European people and we had to stick to the European timing and it was okay. Now it’s a worldwide project and it’s much more difficult to find something fitting with the expectations of the 24-hour zone. But we will adjust it.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff agreed the event schedule was the one aspect of an otherwise successful new event which needed to be addressed.

“We’re looking at it now after the race and lots of the things that were said look a little bit out of proportion or too negative because we are leaving Las Vegas after a great weekend,” said Wolff. “Great racing in the front, the spectacle was mega.

“I think it will have increased the popularity of F1 in the United States for sure. There’s nothing negative that I can find. Maybe timings next year. But an extraordinary event.”

He also acknowledged the unusual set-up of the event leaves F1 with little room to adjust the session timings.

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“I think that it’s logistics,” he said. “How do you manage the traffic situation in Las Vegas?

“I don’t want to find a hair in the soup because it was so great. If we can look at the detail of the timing, maybe qualifying a little bit earlier, but that’s details. The whole thing was great.”

Many drivers also raised concerns over the demands of the schedule. Some also felt the demands placed on them to join in media and promotional work became excessive at times.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella said the event “was a stretch” for his team. “It was taken to the limit in terms of the spectacle, in terms of the entertainment and the show.

“I think that’s good to some extent, because I’m sure it was enjoyed. We just have to ask ourselves whether that’s just going a little too far.

“Certainly the point of involving drivers, which we support 100% because the drivers are the engine of popularity of the sport and the success of the sport at the same time. What I could see is that for drivers as well, it’s been a very busy weekend.

“Even in this case, we need to see if this is the right trade-off between keeping drivers focused on the fact that they have to go racing and also on supporting the short. So definitely a few points that deserve consideration.”

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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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11 comments on “F1 teams see no easy fix for exhausting Las Vegas Grand Prix schedule”

  1. Further east in Europe? Don’t you mean further west, as those locations have the start times earlier than those more in the east, i.e., within UTC+2, so if anything, the opposite effect.
    The ones with late-evening start times in Europe are better the further west a given location is.
    Anyway, nothing wrong with 22:00 as the race start time, but the other sessions could each commence 2 hours earlier so that in possible delay scenarios, the latter session would occur at more ideal times for those on trackside, & this is the easy fix.

    1. The schedule seems to be a evil combination of session starting at night – so the casino names “neon” shows on camera, to serve as an ad about Las Vegas – and being late enough to more people in the european morning – so there is more audience for the ad about Las Vegas.
      I suspect that sessions at daylight would make the track superbly non-descript.

      1. I suspect that sessions at daylight would make the track superbly non-descript.

        Agreed. Were it not for the neon lights and world famous backdrops, the track would be rather poor aesthetically. Indeed during the race coverage, any shots that only showed the track were just grey tunnels of concrete and wire fencing. Without the wide angle shots and the bright lights, it would’ve been very dull looking regardless of how good the actual racing was.

  2. If the event can’t accommodate the wants & needs of all of those involved as well as the fans then it shouldn’t be on the calender.

    The best solution would be a start time in the afternoon which works well for both the US & Europe….. But of course since we know the only reason they are racing in Las Vegas is so they can show off the neon lights a million times every session with lots of pointless high/wide angles of the rest of the city we know there never going to move it to a more suitable time that works better for everyone.

    1. That & Las Vegas generally looks nothing in daylight, so racing in the afternoon would look unfitting.

      1. A daylight race cannot have less character than a night race.

        Even Bahrain was better in daylight.

  3. Morning race? Suitable for West coast, East coast, Europe.

    Noon in Las Vegas is 3 PM ET, 9 PM CET.

  4. I know the purpose of it been a night race is to show off the Vegas lights but a thing i saw mentioned quite a lot over the weekend was how from track level it didn’t really stand out much and could easily have been mistaken to the othe night street races.

    1. People I know found the Vegas aspect very lackluster. Most of the casinos visible from track shots were agent places no one wants to stay like Mirage or Treasure Island

  5. Race timing was great for us in Australia. Watched it with my kids!

  6. I remember being monitored by a couple of corporate shills when I was forced to present a scripted plan to my entire branch staff that involved them and myself all being made redundant whilst assuring them that our excellent customer service would be enhance markedly by by centralising everything to a call centre and I had to deliver that speech like I really meant it.

    I can’t help getting the feeling that a lot of those involved (team principals, drivers etc) have been handed similar scripts and are doing a great job of delivering them.

    Either that or this was really the best race ever.

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