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Formula 1

‘We’ll be wrecked’ - Vegas reality prompts big fear for 2024 race

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
7 min read

Formula 1 and the Las Vegas Grand Prix are being urged to move the race earlier next year or drivers and people working at the event will be “wrecked”.

A constant criticism through the inaugural version of the modern Las Vegas GP was the late schedule, which was aggressive even by night race standards.

The race itself took place on Saturday evening at 10pm, which meant media day activities on Wednesday, free practice on Thursday and qualifying on Friday were all late-in-the-day affairs as well.

This was compounded by the lack of sleep and daytime fatigue so many F1 personnel, including drivers, suffered as a result of the jet lag from travelling to the west of the United States.

Complaints about working hours and awkward schedules are commonplace in F1, especially in recent years with later starts common. But it was worse than just the usual griping at the Vegas event, as many people were clearly badly affected.

The decision to delay the second practice session from a midnight start to a 2.30am Friday start, because of the disruption caused by the water valve cover that failed in FP1, only made things worse as personnel carried a sleep deficit through the remainder of the weekend.

Even Daniel Ricciardo, who spends a lot of time in the US and has been a big advocate of the Las Vegas race, felt this had taken an extreme toll, as “it's kind of felt like a bit of a whirlwind since then".

“I feel like I've been, or probably all of us, have been a little bit delirious and a little bit hallucinogenic," he said.


Poleman Charles Leclerc felt the schedule was “a bit on the limit” and that there was “not much to change apart from the timing”.

Race winner and week-long critic Max Verstappen agreed while also flagging how it fits into the calendar.

This race comes at the end of the joint-longest season in history, as race 21 of 22, and forms an awkward double-header alongside Abu Dhabi that nobody in the paddock appreciates.

“At the moment it's such a big time shift that, especially at the end of the season when everyone is already a bit tired, I think it's a little bit much,” said the world champion.

“Maybe it would be ideal to find a different kind of date because I find that maybe we need to do more of an American tour.

“Maybe for ticket sales, I don't know if that's ideal. So maybe we can find a bit of a solution there.

“The 12-hour timezone shifts and also completely different timings for racing also is a bit much.”

Next year, Las Vegas kicks off a much-hated planned triple-header at the end of a 24-race calendar.

From Vegas, F1 will travel to Qatar, then shuffle across to Abu Dhabi for the finale.

Ricciardo was not actually aware of this and believed Las Vegas was a standalone next year, so was shocked and disappointed when he was corrected.

“What!? No way!” he exclaimed. “Alright...OK! Uh, yeah, that does not have my vote.

“Now, knowing that, they need to bring it forward, because we will be wrecked, especially at the end of the season.

“I've done like six races, and I already feel it. So yeah, hopefully they can make something work.”

It was not clear whether Ricciardo was advocating bringing the race weekend forward, as there is enough of a gap from the previous race in Brazil to make it a standalone, or just the race schedule itself so the weekend runs a little more kindly.

Changing the date is unlikely to be an option – although in the future Sergio Perez suggested it should be the season finale – and even adjusting the start time might be difficult as part of the justification is to capture the European TV audiences in the early morning, while leaning into a boxing-style ‘prize fight’ timeslot in Vegas.

But if nothing changes at all, the 2024 Last Vegas GP will be even more difficult and unpopular to work at than this proved to be. Which would be a shame given the spectacle around the event and the quality of the race were both widely praised.

“The show, the event was mega,” said Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur. “And this will probably be a new standard for F1.

“We were all a bit scared about the sporting side. But it was also probably the best race of the season in that overall it's a mega good event.

“Now if we have to improve it, probably the timing, it's not an easy one to find if you want to have a decent timing for Asia, Europe, East Coast, West Coast.

“Before in the past we had no issue because F1 was just for the European people and we had to stick to European timings and it was OK.

“Now it's a worldwide project and much more difficult to find something fitting with the expectation of the 24 hour zone.

“We will adjust it.”


As a spectacle-focused event in the heart of Las Vegas, based on yet another street track, this was always going to be divisive among drivers and fans.

McLaren team boss Andrea Stella reckoned beyond a “very challenging” timetable, “it was taken to the limit in terms of the spectacle, in terms of the entertainment and the show”.

“The point of involving drivers, we support 100%, because the drivers are the engine of popularity of the sport and the success of the sport,” Stella said.

“At the same time, what I could see is that for the drivers as well, it's been a very busy weekend.

“We need to see if this is the right trade-off between keeping drivers focused on the fact that they have to go racing and also let's say support the show.”

F1 and the Las Vegas GP had to endure a lot more than just stinging words from Verstappen and other critics through the week - a farcical first day of track action, pre-race question marks about the quality of the sporting element of this grand prix, and the threat of a class action lawsuit on behalf of some fans who got screwed over on Thursday.

But it ended with the main talking point being a quality race, which is the best result F1 could have hoped for, and something seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said proved the doubters wrong.

“It was one of the best races,” said Hamilton. “So many people, all of the media, so many have been so negative about this race.

“It’s huge. As I said, there’s been a lot of negativity about having grands prix in the States and people talking about bringing back old classic races from Europe.

“But this has provided a better race than most of the tracks we go to.

“So, hats off to the people that run the show. I can’t wait to come back.”

Hamilton is F1’s biggest star and a big proponent of the efforts being made to broaden the championship’s appeal.

And while some drivers, Verstappen chief among them, complained about how much the drivers got roped into peripheral, entertainment elements through the week – mainly on Wednesday with the opening ceremony – others recommended a little perspective.

“I've definitely had worse weekends in the past with hours and media and that,” said Ricciardo.

“It was definitely one of the busier ones, but it wasn't the craziest I've had.

“I think Thursday [the delayed FP2 session] was the tipping point. Otherwise it wasn't wild.

“We did that ceremony, but that didn't take too much of our time. I know some drivers kicked off about it. I honestly think they were over-exaggerating. It wasn't that bad.

“For how crazy the weekend could have been - don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for more - it was manageable.”

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was more blunt when asked about his opinion given Verstappen had strongly shared his.

“I think it’s fine to have an opinion, [but] maybe you should keep it for yourself," Magnussen replied.

“Because at the end of the day, we’re all on pretty good salaries, living a good life. All because of this.

“Maybe we should show a little bit more appreciation.”

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