Formula 1 is about to light up Las Vegas with an electrifying race. However, Pirelli, the tire supplier for the teams, is bracing for some serious technical challenges due to the unknown elements of the new circuit.
Between the Lines
- Pirelli is preparing for major technical hurdles in Las Vegas.
- The 6.2km street circuit is a new territory for the teams, with no prior data or knowledge about setups and strategies.
- The cold and nocturnal environment of Vegas could potentially disrupt tire temperatures and grip.
- Pirelli has chosen its three softest compounds for the race weekend, considering the extreme conditions and low-grip track surface.
Formula 1 is set to take over the vibrant city of Las Vegas. Amidst the dazzling lights and high energy, drivers will compete on a 6.2km street circuit that winds through the city’s iconic Strip and other entertainment landmarks. However, the unknown elements of this new circuit present significant challenges, especially for Pirelli, the tire supplier for the teams.
Pirelli’s motorsport boss, Mario Isola, explains that this race will be a major technical challenge for both the teams and Pirelli. With no real references apart from simulation, they are heading into this race blind. The track’s surface will be a mix of the usual street asphalt and parts that have been completely re-asphalted for the occasion, adding another unknown element.
Moreover, the cold and nocturnal environment of Vegas could potentially disrupt tire temperatures and grip. With forecasts calling for single-digit Celsius temperatures during the weekend’s sessions, maintaining optimal tire temperatures could be a struggle.
To combat these challenges, Pirelli has selected its three softest compounds for the race weekend. Isola explains that these compounds should guarantee good grip. The minimum tire pressures will be 27 psi at the front and 24.5 psi at the back, due to the expected low temperatures and the track layout.
More about the Las Vegas GP
- For the first time in F1 history the sessions will overlap more than one day, with a different schedule for the night race weekend. The first free practice session will take place on Thursday at 20:30 while FP2 runs from 12 midnight to 01:00 on Friday. FP3 is on Friday at 20:30, with qualifying then taking place from midnight to 01:00 on Saturday. The race starts on Saturday at 22:00.
- Formula 1 previously raced at Las Vegas as the last round of the 1981 and 1982 seasons, with both events called the Caesars Palace Grand Prix. On each occasion the race decided the championship: Alan Jones won the Grand Prix for Williams in 1981 but the title went to Brabham driver Nelson Piquet, while the following year’s race was won by Tyrrell’s Michele Alboreto with Williams driver Keke Rosberg taking the championship (and Ferrari winning the constructors’ classification).
- The Las Vegas Strip circuit passes close to The Sphere: a spherical structure 110 metres high that is completely covered by 1.2 million LED panels. The building – the biggest in the world of its type – houses a 15,000-metre square 16K resolution screen. Costing 2.3 billion dollars, The Sphere was inaugurated at the start of November with a U2 concert: during the Grand Prix weekend, it will light up the circuit with a reproduction Pirelli P Zero Elect tyre, alternating with a Pirelli logo. A customised Pirelli animation will also be seen on the roof of the new building that hosts the pits and Paddock Club.
- The podium finishers will wear a special edition Pirelli podium cap with gold braiding. The Stars and Stripes flag as well as “Las Vegas 2023” script will also appear on the gap – which is also on sale to the public from all authorised retailers.