Las Vegas Grand Prix: Preview - Ferrari


It's almost time for the most eagerly awaited race of the year, as Formula 1 returns to Las Vegas after an absence of 41 years. It promises to be one of the most spectacular events of the season.

In 1981 and 1982 the Caesars Palace Grand Prix was run on a tortuous track laid out in the car park of the famous Las Vegas hotel. For Formula 1's return to Nevada, there is a brand new 6.2 kilometre-long track which runs down the Vegas Strip past several of the city's most famous landmarks. It's a short run from the start line to the first corner, a tight left-hander followed by a combination of technical corners which lead onto one of the two long straights and the first of the two DRS zones, before the drivers will brake hard for the right-hand turn 5. The second sector is all about speed, with the drivers accelerating out of turn 9, going into a sharp left which leads onto the 1.9 kilometre straight as the cars fly down the famous strip, including the second DRS zone. After that comes the narrow chicane at turns 14, 15 and 16 which leads back to the main straight.

This is the third race of the season in the United States and the very first night race to be held on American soil. It means the timetable is completely different to usual, with track action kicking off on Thursday evening, going on well into the night. Then on midnight from Friday to Saturday it's time for qualifying, while the race starts 22 hours later, at 10pm local time on Saturday. This will be the first time a Grand Prix will not be held on a Sunday since the 1985 South African GP at Kyalami, which was also run on a Saturday. For European viewers, it will be the same as getting up to watch the races in the Far East, race start time being 7 (CET) in the morning on Sunday.

While deserts tend to be associated with heat, it will actually be very cold in the Nevada night, with a track temperature of around 15 degrees, or what one would normally associate with pre-season winter testing in Europe. Air temperature could be even lower and getting the tyres into their working window will be an important consideration. It should be fun.

Frederic Vasseur - Team Principal: "We are delighted that Formula 1 is back in Las Vegas for the first time in over 40 years. Over the past five years, our sport has become increasingly popular in the United States and with three races taking place here this season, it's clear this is a new golden age for Formula 1 in America. The USA has always been special for Ferrari, we always have a lot of support here and so we have come up with a unique livery for this race.

"As far as the racing is concerned, we will be tackling a completely new circuit and we can expect very cold conditions, unlike those at any other round on the calendar. Therefore, the work we have undertaken back at the factory, in meetings and in the simulator, will play a key role in ensuring the drivers and the car can perform at their very best. In fact, simulation is a great help in managing the many unknown factors, which can be a competitive advantage, allowing the drivers to focus on learning the track.

"Charles is always very quick on this type of track where you have to run close to the barriers and, in Singapore, Carlos showed he is no less adept in this discipline. We are confident that we can be on the pace and if we give the drivers everything they need, then a good result is within our grasp.

Ferrari in the United States

GP contested 62
Debut Indianapolis 500 1952 (A. Ascari rit.)
Wins 13 (20,97%)
Pole positions 17 (27,42%)
Fastest laps 16 (25,81%)
Total podiums 42 (22,58%)

Three questions to...Erik Van Der Veen - Driving Simulator Senior Engineer

What are the characteristics of the Vegas track?
Erik Van Der Veen: Apart from the uniqueness of the city itself, I consider the layout to be a mixture of tracks like Baku, Miami and Jeddah. There are very long straights which are not always straight and not so many corners, which pushes the car in the direction of minimizing drag and therefore running lower downforce. Therefore, the corners become more difficult which makes it even more important to get the car in the right window in order to get the best launch out of each corner because if you don't get it right, then you pay the price for much of the rest of the lap. A big unknown is the track surface, not just because it's a new track but also because it's a street circuit and we will need to find out how bumpy or flat the surface really is, and how the car and tyres respond to it. Lastly, despite it being a night race with the amount of lighting in the city, I expect it to be easy for the drivers to get distracted too, which will add an extra challenge.

How did you prepare for this race especially as it's a completely new track where it is likely to be very cold at night?
EvdV: Racing in a place as unique as Las Vegas at night, with winter approaching, will produce conditions we do not usually encounter during the season. The expected temperatures are far below the window in which we usually race which means it is very difficult to know what to expect, even more so because it is a brand new circuit on which we have never raced before. Fortunately, over the past few years there has been a lot of development in the models of both the car and the tyres which give us a better idea of what to expect in these conditions. Nonetheless we have to consider a wider range of conditions than usual to make sure we are as ready as we can be and, more importantly, be ready to react to anything that happens.

Tell us about yourself. What path led you to Ferrari and what's it like working for this team?
EvdV: My story of getting to Ferrari is perhaps a bit different from that of many of my colleagues. Born in The Netherlands, I moved to England where I finished school and went to the University of Southampton. I then finished my Masters in Astrophysics at the Smithsonian Institution in Boston, USA. After graduating I applied for a position in the Ferrari F1 Strategy group which is where I started my journey at Ferrari. At Ferrari I have been fortunate to have worked in various groups, always having had great support from the team and my colleagues to help with these transitions. I started in the Strategy group firstly as a developer, as well as providing support during race weekends after which I became Strategy Engineer for Kimi (Raikkonen). From there I moved to the Vehicle Dynamics group and eventually ended up at the Driving Simulator which is where I am now. This path has brought me into contact with a wide range of people, who not only are at the top of their respective fields, but at the same time are very open to professional and also social interactions. It is a unique environment and I am lucky to have worked here for 12 years and counting. It is a unique environment, living in Italy is fantastic and I am lucky to have worked here for 12 years and counting.

Las Vegas Grand Prix - Facts & Figures

9. The best finish for a Ferrari out of the two Formula 1 World Championship Grands Prix held in Las Vegas to date. This not particularly stellar result came courtesy of Didier Pironi at the wheel of a 126 CK. It happened in 1981 in the first race to be held on the track laid out in the car park of Caesars Palace. Ferrari has therefore never scored points in Nevada as they were only handed out to the top six back in the day.

78. The number of circuits that have hosted at least one Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix. This new Las Vegas circuit will be the 12th to host a race in the United States, a clear record as France comes second on the list with a mere seven venues. The track that has hosted the most is Watkins Glen with 21 Grands Prix held there, one more than Indianapolis and almost double the number run at the Circuit of the Americas (11). American circuits that have made only one fleeting appearance on the Formula 1 calendar are Sebring (1959), also home to the famous endurance races, Riverside (1960) and Dallas (1984).

150. The number of wedding ceremonies that take place every day on average in Las Vegas. The city is famous for its casinos but it's also the world capital for weddings. According to municipal figures there are over 59 wedding chapels across the metropolitan area, the most famous being the White Wedding Chapel. It has to be said that many of the marriages officialised here do not seem to last long. The most famous wedding venue officiated at the nuptials of the "Princess of Pop" Britney Spears and Jason Alexander, but their union lasted just 55 hours, or less than three days.

288. The number of years it would take someone to spend one night in each of the hotel rooms in Las Vegas, which is visited by around 40 million tourists per year. It is home to the second and third largest hotels in the world, with 7,092 and 6,852 rooms respectively, outdone only by a hotel in Malaysia that boasts 7,351 rooms. Vegas is also home to around 150 casinos, many of them inside hotels.

54000. The area in square metres of the external LED displays that cover the Sphere a new music and entertainment spherical arena, located in Paradise, to the East of the Las Vegas Strip. It has seating for 18,600 people and was created to offer an immersive audio and video experience through a very high 16K resolution wraparound LED screen, speakers with beamforming and wave field synthesis technology and 4D physical effects. The Sphere is 112 metres tall, with a maximum width of 157 metres. It was opened on 29 September with the first of 25 concerts that U2 will perform up until 16 December 2023.

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Published: 14/11/2023
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