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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