The inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend is under way, though it has not been without its problems.
On Friday there was only eight minutes of first practice before Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari chassis was destroyed by a loose manhole cover, with the session the being abandoned.
That led to an extensive operation to ensure every other manhole cover was secure and a two-hour delay before second practice after which point the paying fans were booted out of the event. FP2 eventually finished in the small hours.
Thankfully, Saturday’s running went off without a hitch as Charles Leclerc took pole ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz, though Sainz will take a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.
When is it?
The 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix runs from Friday November 17 until Sunday November 19, although practice and qualifying are out of the way now. The race begins (and should end) late on Saturday night local time. Despite it being a North American race, to the European viewer the times are more akin to a race in the Far East.
What time do the sessions start?
All times Greenwich Mean Time
Friday, November 17
Saturday, November 18
Third practice: 4.30am
Sunday, November 19
Las Vegas Grand Prix: 6am
What TV channel is it on?
Sky Sports F1 have near-exclusive live coverage rights in the UK this year and indeed for the next few with their usual excellent team.
Sky’s qualifying coverage on Saturday begins at 7am GMT with their race program starting at 4.30am on Sunday.
Channel 4 also have an extended highlights package with their qualifying coverage at 11.40am on Saturday morning, with their race program at 12.30pm on Sunday.
What is the track like?
As with many newly-constructed street circuits, the Las Vegas Strip Circuit has its own style. The main characteristics are a few long-ish “straights” (albeit with a couple of flat-out kinks in two of them) and some twisty sections in the first half of the lap.
Watch below for an onboard video of George Russell’s fastest lap from third pratice.
What were the times after qualifying?
Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1min 32.726secs
Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spa) Ferrari 1:32.770
Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:33.104
George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:33.112
Pierre Gasly (Fra) Alpine 1:33.239
Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:33.323
Logan Sargeant ((USA)) Williams 1:33.513
Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:33.525
Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 Team 1:33.537
Fernando Alonso (Spa) Aston Martin 1:33.555
Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:33.837
Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:33.855
Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Haas F1 Team 1:33.979
Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:34.199
Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:34.308
Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren1:34.703
Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:34.834
Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:34.849
Oscar Piastri (Aus) McLaren1:34.850
Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:36.447
What is the weather forecast?
There was plenty of talk about the challenging conditions this weekend, which has centred around the temperature. With much of the meaningful running at the coldest points of the day, dealing with the plummeting track temperatures could well be an issue.
So far it has been challenging but far from ridiculous. Currently the Met Office is predicting clear skies with temperatures of around 14 degrees at the race start, dropping a few by the conclusion.
What do we know about the Las Vegas Strip Circuit?
Circuit length: 3.85 miles
First grand prix: 2023
Race distance: 310.05km
Number of corners: 17
Overtaking chances: Difficult to say at this point without any race running but the hairpin at turn one – after a long run down from turn 16 with a little left-handed flick before the finish line – is a good start. That said, the best place will likely be the flat-out run from turn 12 down to turn 14 which also has a DRS detection zone.
It is likely the longest full-throttle section on the calendar and could see one driver get ahead by using a slipstream, only for the driver behind to do the same (possibly also with DRS) before the braking zone at turn 14. There is also another DRS zone between turns four and five (a 90-degree right-hander) which presents another chance.
A complicating factor is the lack of grip on a new cold track, which makes any overtaking move riskier.