Las Vegas GP: What you need to know about F1 racing on the Strip, the track, schedule, opening ceremony, ticket prices

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Sky Sports News' Craig Slater takes a look at Formula 1's Las Vegas track and what we can expect from the 'star-studded' race

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Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater takes a look at Formula 1’s Las Vegas track and what we can expect from the ‘star-studded’ race

Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater takes a look at Formula 1’s Las Vegas track and what we can expect from the ‘star-studded’ race

From racing down the iconic Strip and past the game-changing new Sphere, to how bustling Las Vegas has set up to stage F1 in front of a worldwide audience, it’s everything you need to know about this weekend’s extravaganza…

Question 1: So Formula 1 is racing in Las Vegas? On the streets of Las Vegas?

Yes, and yes again. There is certainly nothing misleading about the name of F1’s newest Grand Prix.

In what’s arguably the biggest-ever event for the sport, and what Las Vegas stakeholders reckon will be the biggest sporting event of 2023, Formula 1 comes to the heart of the self-styled Entertainment Capital of the World on a new street circuit layout.

The Strip. World-famous hotels and casinos. Neon lights. It certainly doesn’t get more Las Vegas than this.

Question 2: And F1 is actually racing on the Strip?

A 1.4-mile stretch of the world-famous Las Vegas Boulevard – the road more commonly known as the Strip – will be fully taken over by F1 during the three-day race weekend.

That’ll ensure the most spectacular and iconic of backdrops to the racing action.

Turning left on Sands Avenue at the junction of Las Vegas Boulevard at what is the F1 circuit’s Turn 12, cars will reach speeds of over 212mph as they race past the Venetian on the left, Caesars Palace and then the Bellagio on the right, before a big braking zone and left-hander just past Planet Hollywood onto Harmen Avenue for two slower sections.

Artistic impressions created by Tilke Design and Architects

Artistic impressions created by Tilke Design and Architects

The F1 circuit will use one side of the existing carriageway on the Strip, with the 12-15m width allowing cars to go side-by-side as they vie for position in the Grand Prix.

For a street circuit, it will be super-quick too: those top speeds will be comparable to Monza in Italy, which is referred to as F1’s ‘Temple of Speed’.

Question 3: What else is there to know about the street track?

The track – officially called the Las Vegas Strip Circuit – features 17 corners and runs to 3.8 miles, with the barrier-lined layout wrapping around the heart of the most iconic area of Vegas.

All but four corners of the lap are on existing roads, which have been resurfaced ahead of the arrival of F1 during the course of this year.

The track actually starts to the east of the Strip on a previously disused piece of land bought by F1 and US owners Liberty Media in 2022 at a cost of $240m.

It has been substantially redeveloped to include a vast permanent pit building, garages and team areas, along with hospitality facilities, including the luxurious Paddock Club (more on which below).

The pit building is the length of three American football fields and features a 28,000 sqft video screen made into the F1 logo on its roof.

This redeveloped area also features the pit straight and the first four corners of the circuit.

From there, the lap rejoins Koval Lane and then races towards the astonishing MSG Sphere Vegas’ new $2.3bn, 366-foot immersive music and entertainment arena that has captured global attention since opening in September.

The orb structure features 1.2m LEDs on the outside, allowing the creation of dramatic displays.

Question 4: How have they turned Vegas into an F1 circuit?

Underlining the famously can-do attitude in Vegas, it has taken just 19 months since the deal with F1 was signed to make this first event a reality.

Speaking to Sky Sports on the eve of race week, Las Vegas GP CEO Renee Wilm said: “I would say the biggest challenge is really just transportation planning.

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“We are essentially encapsulating 60,000 hotel rooms, workers, guests and visitors of Las Vegas. And how do we ensure that we are able to keep traffic moving, keep people moving when the track is hot?

“And in that regard, we have installed three temporary bridges which will allow vehicles to access the interior of the track while we are during race time. And working with the locals hand and glove to figure out how we continue to move the employees and how we get guests into the interior of the track.”

The roads that make up the circuit will start to shut from 5pm on each of the three days of F1 track activity and reopen from 2am.

They will be what is described as “hot” – ready for track action – and handed over to officials from the FIA, F1’s governing body, from 7pm each evening.

Question 5: Is Vegas still operating as normal this weekend?

The next stop on the Formula 1 calender is the Las Vegas Grand Prix and you don't want to miss it!

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The next stop on the Formula 1 calender is the Las Vegas Grand Prix and you don’t want to miss it!

The next stop on the Formula 1 calender is the Las Vegas Grand Prix and you don’t want to miss it!

Well, as normal as is logistically possible with a Grand Prix circuit right in the middle of the spur road that many of the major hotels, casinos and entertainment venues straddle. One thing’s for certain: it’s going to be busy.

“We have about 100,000 tickets of our own inventory bringing people to the event and there are many, many watch parties around the valley which will also be filling additional hotel rooms even for those people who are not fortunate enough to be able to be on track,” says Wilm.

“This will be an epically-attended weekend in Las Vegas.”

Temporary vehicle and pedestrian access bridges across the track have been erected to keep things moving from inside the circuit while the affected roads that make up the track are closed.

Most public walkways, including down the Strip, will remain open next to the circuit but organisers have confirmed they won’t have views of the track.

Question 6: So the race is at night? What time does it start?

Formula 1 heads to the Las Vegas Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports F1

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Formula 1 heads to the Las Vegas Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports F1

Formula 1 heads to the Las Vegas Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports F1

In order to get the full ‘Las Vegas effect’, the race is running late at night under a floodlighting system that has been erected around the circuit. Not only that but, in a break with normal F1 tradition, it’s a Saturday night Grand Prix for local audiences with a start time on the west coast of 10pm.

The eight-hour time difference means that for Sky Sports F1 viewers in the UK, it’s a race start of 6am on Sunday morning. What is sure to be a star-studded and dramatic build-up starts 4.30am live on the channel.

Practice Two and Qualifying each start at midnight local time which means drivers will be on track until 1am in both sessions. It’s a rather more convenient breakfast-time 8am starts for each of those sessions in the UK on Sky F1, though.

Question 7: Has F1 ever raced that late before – and what will the conditions be like?

Naomi Schiff looks ahead to the Las Vegas Grand Prix and asks: could the cold weather throw a spanner in the works?

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Naomi Schiff looks ahead to the Las Vegas Grand Prix and asks: could the cold weather throw a spanner in the works?

Naomi Schiff looks ahead to the Las Vegas Grand Prix and asks: could the cold weather throw a spanner in the works?

Starting two hours later than even Singapore, F1’s longest-established night race, Vegas’ 10pm start time will be the latest-ever for a Grand Prix.

Driving beyond midnight, as will be the case for P2 and Qualifying, is also a first.

Late-night temperatures for Thursday-Saturday are forecast to dip to 10-13 degrees Celsius.

For a racing schedule that is said the follow the sun, that is certainly on the chilly side. It’s not completely unheard of for cars to have to run in such conditions – think winter testing in Spain in February in years gone by or F1’s visits to European venues out of summer season in the Covid-hit 2020 campaign – but the night-time weather in Vegas will undoubtedly present drivers with challenges, particularly around tyre warm-up.

In a bid to negate this, Pirelli is bringing its softest tyre compounds to the event, which warm up faster. Still, the prospect of drivers needing at least one more lap than usual to bring their tyres up to temperature in qualifying is strong.

The 1978 Canadian GP, when the temperature dropped as low as five degrees Celsius, is the coldest-ever race in the sport’s history.

Question 8: Just how big an event is it for F1 and Vegas?

A showpiece and a showcase, this event is very much a big deal for both the sport and the Vegas stakeholders who have made it happen.

To underline the scale of the event and the expectations, it has been forecast that the F1 weekend will bring $1.2bn in economic value to the Las Vegas area.

For F1 and its US owners, it’s the realisation of a long-term ambition, and brings the number of races in the USA up to three in a market where the sport’s popularity has surged thanks in part to Drive to Survive.

Relive the action from the last time Formula 1 visited Las Vegas in 1982, which saw Italian driver Michele Alboreto for Tyrell win, with Williams racer Keke Rosberg sweeping to his first title

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Relive the action from the last time Formula 1 visited Las Vegas in 1982, which saw Italian driver Michele Alboreto for Tyrell win, with Williams racer Keke Rosberg sweeping to his first title

Relive the action from the last time Formula 1 visited Las Vegas in 1982, which saw Italian driver Michele Alboreto for Tyrell win, with Williams racer Keke Rosberg sweeping to his first title

It’s not actually the sport’s first event in Las Vegas, that came back in 1981 and 1982 at what was known as the Caesars Palace Grand Prix. However, what was a fairly uninspiring 2.3-mile circuit was completely confined to effectively the car park of the Caesars Palace hotel.

Question 9: What’s going on around the race?

Playing into that staggering economic prediction is the fact that organisers are promising a hospitality and entertainment experience never before seen in the sport.

Wilm believes Las Vegas are “bringing a Formula 1 race weekend to a whole new level of fan engagement and fan entertainment”.

It all kicks off on Wednesday at a a star-studded opening ceremony featuring performances from artists including John Legend, Tiësto, will.i.am and Thirty Seconds to Mars. All 20 F1 drivers will also be present.

Different fan and hospitality zones have also been created around the circuit offering different experiences and events for ticket holders.

The T-Mobile zone at the Sphere, for example, is the scene of stage performers from leading stars each night plus other fan interactions.

Question 10: How much are the tickets?

In a city where they say anything is possible, it’s also fair to say that it also extends to price.

But, before we look at the exuberant, let’s first start at the lower end of the Vegas affordability scale across what are an array of options with 18 grandstands plus different spectator zones.

Three-day general admission standing-only tickets in the T-Mobile zone costing $500 (£409) were snapped up quickly when they went on sale earlier this year.

Still available are three-day seated ticket in the same zone grandstands near the Sphere at Turn Five, available from $1,866 (£1,527).

But for Practice day the cheapest grandstand seats are currently listed at $218 (£178), with Qualifying priced at $466 (£381) race day available for £1,213 (£992)

Four-day tickets for seats in the main grandstand on the start-finish line are priced from $2,452.50 (£2,007.51)

For the next level up in race weekend experience, there are 10 hospitality suites dubbed ‘Premium Clubs’.

The East Harmon Zone, for instance, gives access to Skybox hospitality which, has indoor lounge access – which the words of the organisers will “embody classic Las Vegas, complete with a sleek, Rat Pack-inspired design with warm minimalist lighting, dark woods, tufted velvet, and leather that will transport you back to the city’s golden age” – and a outdoor terrace overlooking the track

The four-day ticket also includes access to the opening ceremony, a dedicated service team and all-inclusive food and drinks menu Skybox packages start at $10,000 per person.

The Bellagio Fountain Club, meanwhile, offers views of the Strip located above the circuit in front of the hotel including race-weekend tickets, meet and greets with F1 ambassadors, and ‘an all-inclusive unlimited curated menu by celebrated chefs & a premium bar’. The price? $11,247 per person.

But that’s on the cheap side compared to Paddock Club experiences down at the new F1 pit complex. For $15,000 you get views overlooking the start-finish straight, first corner, and garages, five-day access – including Sunday ‘recovery brunch’ – exclusive F1 experiences, transportation and a dedicated service manager, and all-inclusive food and drink menu.

Question 11: What’s the most extravagant package?

Well, how about this: The $5m ‘Emperor Package’.

Launched by Caesars Entertainment, the price includes five nights at the Nobu Hotel’s Sky Villa at Caesars Palace, a 10,300-square-foot, three-bedroom space which contains a terrace overlooking the Strip for 75 guests.

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa will host a private dinner for 12, there is around-the-clock butler service, a personal driver with Rolls-Royce for the stay, and 12 tickets to Paddock Club to take in the track action up front. Oh, and if that’s not enough, you also get two tickets to watch Weekends with Adele at the Colosseum.

Question 12: What else is happening in Vegas this week?

Shakur Stevenson goes up against Edwin De Los Santos for the vacant WBC lightweight title on Friday, live on Sky Sports Arena

Shakur Stevenson goes up against Edwin De Los Santos for the vacant WBC lightweight title on Friday, live on Sky Sports Arena

First up, it would be remiss not to first mention the other live sporting event taking place from Las Vegas on Sky Sports this week.

Top Rank stage a world championship double-header on Thursday in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena, the new premiere venue for boxing on the Strip.

Shakur Stevenson, one of the most talented fighters in America, fights to become a three-weight champion when he boxes Edwin De Los Santos for the vacant WBC lightweight title.

Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete, an all-action brawler, puts his WBO super-featherweight championship on the line against Olympic gold medallist Robson Conceicao.

With a full undercard, Sky Sports Arena televise from 1.30am on Friday morning.

And, of course, for those lucky enough to be in Vegas, it’s not only sport that is putting on a show this coming week.

Music, comedy, variety shows, magic…the list of possible evening options is endless across the various hotel and entertainment venues in and around the Strip. Kylie Minogue, Rod Stewart, Penn & Teller, Cirque du Soleil, RuPaul’s Drag Race…you name it, Vegas has got it on.

Get ready for the big one: Formula 1 in Las Vegas! See drivers race down the Strip, and past landmarks like Caesars Palace and the Bellagio, on F1’s newest street track. Watch the whole Las Vegas GP weekend live on Sky Sports F1 on November 17-19. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW

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