George Russell believes the inaugural race at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit will fail to deliver the level of overtaking the track layout has been designed to promote.

Formula 1’s eagerly anticipated return to Las Vegas 41 years on from its last visit comes on a street track that features a 1.9km straight down the famed Strip boulevard.

While Russell contends that the venue lacks the character and challenge of the most prestigious circuits, he accepts that the recent additions to the calendar are constructed to prioritise excitement for fans.

“For the 20 drivers it’s not going to be the most enjoyable circuit we’ve driven in the whole season,” he admitted. “But this is a sport that millions of people tune in every single week to watch and probably the majority of people understand what a great race is and overtaking and battles.

“But only probably the diehard fans can really appreciate the greatness of a circuit like Silverstone or Suzuka or Monaco. So times are definitely changing and I think we just have to embrace it, really.”

With the drivers set to reach top speeds this weekend that could potentially even rival Monza, every team has opted to bring a version of its low-downforce package.

Russell asserts that will mitigate the advantage provided by the Drag Reduction System and slipstream, meaning overtaking will be harder than initially anticipated.

“It’s definitely not going to be an iconic circuit in terms of its layout,” Russell suggested. “I think it’s been designed to try to enhance racing. [But] I’m not too sure how good the race is going to be.

“Of course there’s big, long straights, but because we’re all on minimum downforce the slipstream effect won’t be that great.

“The DRS I think is worth about one-tenth per straight. When you compare that to someone like Barcelona, it’s worth six-tenths on the straight.

“So it may not actually be as straightforward as one may think to race.”

Circuit atmosphere – track detail. 14.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Preparation Day

The Las Vegas circuit’s combination of extensive straights and tight corners has drawn comparisons to the Baku City Circuit. Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton hopes that the track configuration promotes a chaotic race like the ones seen in Azerbaijan.

“From a racer’s perspective, you want to have the best show,” Hamilton added.

“If the race track provides races like, for example, Baku – which is in terms of racing is one of the best races, lots of overtaking – that would be amazing. Rather than just one car disappearing and cars not overtaking.”

Although Valtteri Bottas agrees with Russell’s viewpoint on the layout, the ex-Mercedes race winner is confident Saturday night’s race will yield plenty of on-track duels.

“I’ve seen most of it and it looks pretty similar to the simulator,” the current Alfa Romeo driver assessed. “In places it visually looks more narrow than I thought but that’s mainly some straight parts.

“It looks pretty much like I expected so, hopefully, already from the first lap on the simulator I knew it was going to be a pretty good track for racing, the straights are so long that there’s going to be a lot of slipstreaming.

“It’s a low downforce track as well, so in terms of comparing it to some tracks, I would say that it’s similar to some parts of Baku, you’ve got quite a few 90º corners, long straights. Probably not the most exciting one in terms of track layout, but if Saturday night is exciting, everyone is happy.”

Pressed on the trickiest corners of the circuit, Bottas answered: “I think it’s Turns 5, 6 and 7, around the Sphere, quite a tricky braking and the most technical part of the track. Also Turns 1 and 2, but apart from that it’s quite straightforward, 90º corners, big braking zones.

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