VIVA LAS VEGAS!
MARIO ISOLA - PIRELLI HEAD OF MOTORSPORT
“Formula 1 returns to the United States for the third time this year, following Miami and Austin. And it’s with one of the most-eagerly grands prix of the year, in Las Vegas, where the pinnacle of motorsport hasn’t been seen since 1982. This will be an incredible race, as every day is showtime in Las Vegas, and all of us working in Formula 1 want to put on the sort of spectacle that is worthy of this amazing city.
It will also be a major technical challenge for both the teams and us, as we head into this race with no real references apart from simulation. Nobody has ever actually driven the 6.12-kilometre Las Vegas Strip circuit before, which is second only to Spa in terms of overall length this year, characterised by three straights and 17 corners. The surface will be a mix of the usual street asphalt, especially on the actual Strip, as well as other parts that have been completely re-asphalted for the occasion; adding another unknown element. There won’t be any support races and the track will be opened again to normal traffic for long chunks of the day, which means that the surface won’t rubber in as usual and deliver improved grip.
We’re expecting the cars to run quite low levels of downforce, similar to Baku or indeed Monza: hitting a high top speed will be key to being competitive. All the sessions will take place at night, with unusual ambient and track temperatures for a race weekend; more similar to those found back when pre-season testing used to take place in Europe. Those long straights also make it harder to warm up tyres in qualifying, as well as keep them in the right window: the same challenge as seen in Baku, which will probably be more pronounced in Las Vegas.
Bearing all this in mind, we’ve selected the trio of softest compounds for this weekend: C3, C4, and C5, which should guarantee good grip. Minimum tyre pressures should be 27 psi at the front and 24.5 psi at the back, due to the expected low temperatures as well as the track layout. In cold conditions, the gap between cold tyre pressures and normal running pressures is greatly reduced – so when the car is moving, tyre pressure will increase a lot less than on other circuits due to the low asphalt temperatures. As a result, we think that running pressures will still be lower than on other circuits that are tough on tyres, such as Baku for example.
So all the elements are in place for an extraordinary race, packed with surprises and unpredictability. As the title of Elvis Presley’s famous racing film goes…Viva Las Vegas! ”
THE TYRES ON TRACK
- The Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend in Nevada will use C3 as P Zero White hard, C4 as P Zero Yellow medium and C5 as P Zero Red soft: the softest selection of tyres in the range.
- 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.
- The new Las Vegas street circuit consists of 17 corners and three straights, with two DRS zones. The lap is 6.12 kilometres long, with an estimated top speed of 342kph. The finish line is on the corner of Harmon Avenue and Koval Lane, with the layout stretching from Las Vegas Boulevard to Sands Avenue and a race distance of 50 laps.
- An opening ceremony is planned to celebrate Formula 1’s return to Las Vegas, starting at 19:30 on Wednesday. The artists scheduled to take part include Steve Aoki, Thirty Seconds to Mars, will.i.am, and the Cirque du Soleil troupe.
- More than 30 different variants of the street track were designed before the final layout was selected. The main infrastructure, including the pit building in the shape of the F1 logo, as well as the pit lane and paddock was built in just over a year.
- 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.
Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 116 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, and will reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.