The penultimate Formula 1 weekend in 2023 sees the return of the Las Vegas GP. The ‘layout’ of the track has caused a lot of discussion since it was announced to the public, featuring many straights and sharp bends, in line with the new type of tracks of recent years. The intent is to encourage the spectacle on the track and generate overtakes.
However, the greatest spectacle may not derive from the characteristics of the circuit itself. Instead, plenty of surprises could come from the weather conditions – temperatures of 10°C are expected over the weekend, much lower than the previous minimums. For example, Saturday at the Australian GP saw 15°C, which gave teams a headache with tyre warmup.
Red Bull remains, as always, the favourite. However, this is not the perfect circuit for the RB19, while the midfield remains more unknown.
GP Las Vegas: Ferrari can do well, but the temperatures are a wild card
On paper, the 6,201km at Vegas will be very fast. It contains 17 official corners, many of which must be tackled at high speed without taking your foot off the accelerator. Without having seen the cars on the track, we can imagine that the main overtaking points will be Turn 1, Turn five and Turn 14, some of the slowest on the entire circuit.
Aerodynamic load will not necessarily be required to navigate the corners – but instead to help cars bring the tyres into the correct operating window.
Due to the nature of low-speed corners, it is possible for temperatures to fluctuate across a lap. This detail could favour McLaren, who are very capable of bringing the tires to the window – even before their substantial updates (as seen in Spain).
Williams has also shown flashes of this characteristic, while Ferrari is among those who could struggle to bring tyres into the correct window in these conditions.
The times are particular and influence the conditions in which the Las Vegas GP will take place. The organisers wanted a night GP, but the time difference would have significantly impacted European audiences. The race will start at 10 pm local time.
The temperatures of 11/12°C also derive from this particular choice, allowing you to experience the Las Vegas environment fully.
Furthermore, Pirelli explains, “The asphalt will be a mix between the city road surface. Particularly on the Strip, and parts totally resurfaced for the occasion, thus adding a further unknown.”
For a good part of the day, traffic will be reopened to facilitate circulation in one of the city’s most active areas. Support categories won’t help add more rubber, either.
The set-ups will probably be low-load. Pirelli expects aerodynamic load levels similar to Monza or Baku, and as in Azerbaijan, “the long distances on a straight line will make the warming up phase of the tires in qualifying even more complicated but also the maintenance of an adequate temperature during the race.”
The choice of compounds is the softest possible, namely C3, C4 and C5, and with very high initial minimum pressures (27 psi at the front, 24.5 psi at the rear), which will increase less at full speed compared to other circuits and therefore when fully operational, values similar to others already seen will be found.
In addition to possible good performances from Alpine and Williams, always influenced by many factors, it will be interesting to observe the performances of the AT04 on a different circuit than usual.
GP Las Vegas updates: Haas is still studying, Perez can do better than usual
Since the last event in the United States, in Texas, Haas has not yet found the correct window to exploit their new updates as they prepare for 2024.
Comparative tests are expected in the Las Vegas GP to study the new solutions on the VF23 and compare them with the old ones.
New liveries will be present on the cars of Williams, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, McLaren, Alpha Tauri, Alpine and Red Bull, with special liveries for one of the most publicized grand prix of the season.
Furthermore, in Nevada, we can expect a better performance than usual from Sergio Perez, often closer to his teammate on the street circuits thanks to the absence of faster sections and in (slight) crescendo after the latest updates in Singapore, given the characteristics of the circuit suitable for driving the Mexican.
Author: Andrea Vergani
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang