F1 returns to Las Vegas next weekend for one of the most
eagerly-anticipated events of the season. Sin City has been
transformed into a temporary race circuit for the weekend as cars
prepare to race past the world-famous hotels and casinos that stand
aligned with The Strip. The sport hasn’t visited the Nevada city
since 1982 when the second and final race at Caesars Palace took
place, with the failure of that event a difficult tag to shrug off.
So what is different about the return to Las Vegas and why should
the new-look event outshine its predecessor? The circuit and time
of race When F1 visited in 1981 and 1982, Caesars Palace held the
race partly in its car park and extra land between Las Vegas
Boulevard and Interstate 15 to the west. The circuit consisted of
10 left-handed corners, three right-handed corners and only two
short straights on a track crammed into a short space in order to
fulfil the minimum two-mile circuit length, posing a challenge for
the drivers not conducive to exciting racing action. Whilst similar
fears over racing action are in place for the new event, the long
blast down The Strip should lead to overtaking opportunities, with
a similar chance expected into Turns 1 and 5. The location of the
1981-82 event was an issue as well, with the track taking place in
what looked like a Las Vegas void. There was none of the razzmatazz
in the background that gives the idea of a race in the city such
excitement. Fast forward to the present day and the cars will fly
past the likes of the Venetian, the Mirage, Caesars Palace, the
Flamingo and the Bellagio among other hotels and casinos down the
Strip, whilst around the back end of the circuit, drivers will wind
around the impressive new Sphere. With the race taking place late
on Saturday night local time, darkness will descend and the lights
of the city will surely add value to the atmosphere that the
original event 42 years previous certainly missed. The challenging
temperatures When Alan Jones and Michele Alboreto won the two
Caesars Palace Grands Prix in the early 1980s, the temperatures
posed a challenge for drivers in terms of heat. Drivers suffered
from heat exhaustion – much like the modern competitors struggled
in Qatar last month – with the race held in the middle of the day
in September. But with the later date for the new event and the
night-time start, drastically cooler temperatures are expected – as
low as four degrees Celsius. This will give drivers and teams a
headache when it comes to tyre warm-up – not necessarily straight
from the pits where tyres have been suitably heated by their
blankets, but more if there is a Safety Car. There will also be a
greater emphasis on a perfectly prepared formation lap. The hype
Whilst the event has its critics even before a wheel has been
turned, there is no denying the hype that has been built for Las
Vegas. The spectacle is expected to draw up to 100,000 spectators
per day, which dwarfs the estimated figures from the Caesars Palace
races in the 1980s. A crucial factor with this is that the hotel
itself promoted the event then, much like MGM now promotes boxing
events at the MGM Grand. That meant that Caesars’ main competitors
on The Strip were reluctant to help the promotion of the event –
but that has all changed now. The package options with each of the
hotels in sight of the long straight prove this is a unified front.
Yes, there’s the argument that the regular fan is being priced out,
but there will still be demand from a specific category of client.
The proof will be in the pudding as to whether the Las Vegas Grand
Prix proves to be a long-lasting success but there is no way it can
compare to its first try on the calendar.

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