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Formula 1

The oddest moment of F1 2023's strangest weekend

by Edd Straw
2 min read

As The Race reflects on the 2023 motorsport season - one that featured a record-equalling Formula 1 schedule, no fewer than 39 MotoGP races, and no shortage of on- and off-track drama in IndyCar and Formula E - we’ve asked our writers to recount their standout motorsport memory or feeling from the past 12 months.

For Edd Straw, it's a 3.30am revelation in Las Vegas that's lodged in his mind.

The Las Vegas Grand Prix was always likely to be, for better or worse, the most memorable race weekend of the 2023 Formula 1 season.

But while for many watching the sight of Carlos Sainz clouting a utility cover early in free practice will spring to mind, for me it was a moment later in the day that encapsulated the unique absurdity of the race weekend.

The combination of the lengthy delay and the uncertainty about free practice happening at all, then the shameful moment when those fans who did hang around were sent home shortly before the cars did run again, meant FP2 was already a storied session when it kicked off at 2.30am local time.

Practice proceeded without a hitch, but I can distinctly remember a moment in the media centre while following the session roughly an hour into it that the ridiculousness of the whole thing struck me.

As I pointed out to my colleague, Scott Mitchell-Malm, we were watching a 90-minute free practice session at half-past-three in the morning in the centre of one of the most famous cities on earth. Even having become accustomed to the increasingly bizarre timing of F1 running in general, this was difficult to fully comprehend.

All the positives and negatives of the event were laid bare in that moment - everything from the genuinely remarkable achievement of F1 pulling off turning the centre of Las Vegas and The Strip into a high-speed racetrack to the shambolic communication and flat-footed PR responses to everything that happened that day.

That moment, bordering on delirium given I'd been in the timezone for a week (although the bizarre timings of the race weekend meant almost nobody was close to being on the right adjusted time of day) will always be emblematic of a first Vegas race that had some serious problems, but ultimately delivered for F1.


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