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F1 looks to clean up in Vegas

NEWS STORY
07/11/2022

Las Vegas Grand Prix is set to be the most expensive yet, as the promoter, F1 itself, seeks to make a killing off the back of the sport's increasing popularity.

For once, let's hope that the claim that, 'what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas', proves true, for if F1 gets its way, and next year's Grand Prix is a success many fans could find themselves priced out of the sport.

Ahead of Saturday's Launch Party on the Las Vegas Strip, such were the screams from the crowd that there was a danger of the F1 engines being drowned out.

To whet the appetites, F1 had some star names on board for the demo runs, and those names don't get much bigger than seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton.

Usually, Hamilton shuns such events, but whether he was under the orders of Mercedes or F1, or simply keen to make the most of the ongoing 'fan frenzy', the Briton was there to lend his support.

Also present were George Russell, Sergio Perez and Alex Albon, while The Killers provided the musical entertainment in much the same way that the Circuit of the Americas had to rely on the likes of Taylor Swift to put bums on the seats in the early days.

While F1 was joint promoter of the Miami Grand Prix, in Vegas it is entirely in charge of the show. Indeed, it has such faith in the project that it has splashed out $240m for a 39 acre slice of land which the pits and paddock will occupy on race weekend but for the rest of the year will be used as an entertainment complex aimed at further promoting the sport.

Due to its investment in the project, Liberty Media is pulling out all the stops in its determination to capitalise on the growing interest in F1, particularly in the States.

However, what is happening in Vegas should send out alarm bells, particularly to those fans who were aware of the sport prior to 2019, those heady days, pre the pandemic lockdowns when many had yet to discover Drive to Survive.

At a time when fans in the UK are still recovering from the shock of ticket prices for next year's British Grand Prix and the use of 'dynamic pricing' to raise prices (almost instantly) according to demand, spare a thought for those wishing to attend next May's event in Vegas.

General admission, that is standing room, is $500 (440) for a three-day ticket, while (3-day) grandstand seats start at $2,000 (1,760) . Shared hospitality is $10,000 (8,800) while Paddock Club prices are not currently available, and when they are it will probably be best to have a defibrillator handy.

That's the tickets sorted, but what of hotels?

Well, Caesars Palace, of Car Park Grand Prix fame is charging $19,000 (16,700) a night for a suite, while rooms not even on the Strip, are going for $600 (530) a night.

Worryingly, many hotels are already fully booked, including The Strat, Cosmopolitan, and the Wynn.

"It's getting more and more expensive and less accessible to go to our events, and I wouldn't think that is a good thing," noted Hamilton, without a hint of irony.

"Formula One has a certain positioning with regard to the kind of sport it is," said F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali. "We are going to deliver the greatest spectacle in the world as a statement of F1. That needs to be recognized and in terms of price positioning we are going to be on the top side because this is Las Vegas and that is the nature of the customer coming to Las Vegas.

"There will be possibilities for people who want to pay less, to spend less," he added. "As always in life, it is the market pulling the price and then on our side is the responsibility to bring a great event."

"Given it is our race as a promoter, we want to make it a showcase of what can be done at all the races," said Greg Maffei, a comment that should chill the bones of fans and promoters.

"We want to capitalize on the fan interest, which is enormous in the US, the demand is massive," he added.

"Both for us as a company, this will be the largest race in terms of revenues. It will also be the most expensive race in terms of costs. That's the nature of the event, the scale, and the nature of Vegas.

"We will try to create economic choices for fans, not all fans can pay the top dollar, we understand. This is an expensive place to operate and we'll try to take advantage of the great things Vegas has to offer."

"What we want to create is to have different races with different personality, with different characteristics, with different fans, with different price points, with different expectations," added Domenicali. "If all Grand Prix's were equal, it wouldn't be what we wanted. I think what we're going to present to our fans in Vegas will be unique and in the US we are just scratching the surface of what we can do."

Meanwhile, the sorry situation was best summed up by Albon, who said he had been approached by a fan, who declared: "You're that Netflix guy!"

"They don't even know my name," said the Williams driver.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by ffracer, 03/12/2022 6:40

"Vegas was inevitable, surprised it didn't happen sooner (since the late Michele Alboreto's incredible win, with that incredible resurfacing Tyrell chassis lol, in the early 80's?). Surprisingly, and even with more deserving venues, F1 of late is all about 'cash is king'. Operating like a company focussed on bolstering up it's client list and max schedule before a sale. Having said that, Las Vegas has more money than God. They could rebuild the city ten times if they wanted to. So please PLEASE F1, do something about this ridiculous track layout. #$%^, there have been better F1 exhibition track layouts for #$%^ sakes! Learn from Mexico, create an interesting hairpin / double apex /set of corners with a drive through a stadium, or recreate parts of Austin, Spa, Road America, Laguna Seca using parking lots, anything'd be better!"

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2. Posted by kenji, 08/11/2022 0:18

"@ JamesD....It's a universal business principle that is applied according to 'what the market will bear'. The unabashed beauty of capitalism at work in a democracy."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by JamesD, 07/11/2022 17:53

"'F1 looks to clean up in Vegas' ... translates as Liberty and it's buddies screw F1 for every last cent !!"

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4. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 07/11/2022 13:58

"Very surprised there isn't a FerrariWorld being built in Vegas. If there is one place in NASA that could make a killing on it, would be Vegas. McLarenWorld would work too, lol. "

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5. Posted by Max Noble, 07/11/2022 4:03

"Well to be honest…. Bernie when asked why he did not have a larger social media commitment some years back, pointed the interviewer towards a huge Rolex sign behind him, noting he was trying to attract people that could actually afford to collect Rolex watches, not just have a rage on Twitter…

Just so those that go dingy racing at the weekend are never going to mount an America’s Cup challenge, it would appear that F1 is moving further, and further up the social ladder…. Respectfully noting it has never been down at the cost-entry level of school ground marbles…

Can we please have massed Elvis impersonators everywhere for the entire weekend? Please?
"

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6. Posted by Defiant, 07/11/2022 0:58

"Vegas is over rated in every way, I forsee the race being the same."

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7. Posted by Anthony, 06/11/2022 16:04

"I wouldn’t be tempted to go there even if the tickets were very cheap! Instead I will continue to go to the European races."

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8. Posted by Superbird70, 06/11/2022 14:59

"By 2026 F1 will be a truly global sport with 14 races in the Americas, and a further 10 scattered in the Middle East.
"

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