F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix: Late Start, FP1 Cancelled, Track Problems - Everything Wrong
Formula 1 returns to Las Vegas with a new street circuit, but the city is annoyed and drivers have concerns.
This weekend, Formula 1 returns to Las Vegas after more than 40 years, featuring a newly designed street circuit where cars race down the iconic Strip at speeds exceeding 200mph. The event has been hyped as "the biggest sporting event in America," with a reported $500 million spent to prepare the city for the weekend. However, this has not been without its challenges, annoying both locals and drivers.
Tourists and taxi drivers have expressed frustration due to city-wide traffic delays caused by road closures. Scheduling the event during a major fight week, with Shakur Stevenson facing Edwin De Los Santos for the WBC lightweight title on Thursday, made matters worse when it comes to travel. Drivers have also claimed that the weekend isn't just about racing, and incidents that forced FP1 to be cancelled have infuriated both racers and team bosses.
After winning Netflix's inaugural golf tournament, Carlos Sainz took to the Vegas track on Thursday evening in first practice. The session was only eight minutes in when the Ferrari driver ran over a broken manhole, leaving a hefty amount of damage on the underbody of his car. The session was red-flagged, and the FIA stated that the manhole cover failed, requiring a thorough check of the circuit to ensure its safety. Esteban Ocon also ran over the loose cover on his return to the pits. Ferrari was forced to put in a new engine and change the chassis of Sainz's car due to the damage. While acknowledging that Ferrari was not responsible, the race stewards imposed a 10-place grid penalty on Sainz, leading to controversy.
Another struggle for this race weekend has been to create a timeslot that allows viewers from all over the world to watch live. But the one audience organizers forgot to cater to was their own. The race starts at 10 p.m. local time on Saturday, November 16, making it midnight or later for many viewers in the United States. World champion Max Verstappen has also complained about the excitement of the circuit, describing it as "99 percent spectacle and one percent sporting event."
There has been extensive construction in anticipation of the grand prix, which has created utter chaos in Las Vegas, leading to lengthy transport delays with reportedly several hours needed for four-mile journeys. Scheduling the race in the week of a major fight night at the T-Mobile Arena, with another stacked card to follow next week in the city, was also questionable.
Even being a pedestrian has become difficult thanks to specific pathways being designed for the street-circuit layout. Numerous locals have voiced their frustration at the inconveniences caused by Formula 1, prompting an apology from the sport's owners, delivered by Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei.
Despite the challenges, the Las Vegas Grand Prix is set to go ahead, with the main event taking place on Saturday. The event will be broadcast by major broadcasters in the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia, with many online streams also available around the world.