This week the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), F1’s governing body, announced the start times of all races for the upcoming season. The Las Vegas Grand Prix (LVGP) F1 race will once again take place at night despite complaints that the race, practices, and qualifying went later than some fans would prefer.
For the second year in a row, cars will zoom and shed sparks while driving down the Vegas Strip on Nov. 23 at 10 p.m. local time. Just as it occurred last year, the LVGP will begin at 1 a.m. on the following day for those in Eastern time zones.
The FIA did not release times for the three practice sessions and qualifying events that take place before the race. Last year’s LVGP schedule saw practices starting two days before the race at 8:30 p.m. and midnight. Race qualifying started at midnight on the night of the race.
It’s possible the FIA and F1 could alter some of the pre-race sessions to take place earlier in the day. Even an hour earlier would make the sessions easier for fans visiting Las Vegas for the race events.
Looking back at the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix
The 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix started with an over-the-top celebration at Grand Prix Plaza. The venue on Harmon and Koval is F1’s new US headquarters and race paddock.
LVGP race and course conditions
There was one major hiccup when Ferrari’s Carlson Sainz drove over a drain cover and destroyed his car while stopping the first practice session after just nine minutes. The other pre-race sessions went on without a hitch.
The race had a predictable ending with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen taking home the championship. Shortly after the race ended, F1 started taking deposits on ticket packages for all 2024 LVGP events from Nov. 21-23.
Despite the late start, the LVGP was the third highest-rated F1 race on ESPN last year according to the network. While viewers didn’t seem to be bothered by the late start time some of the drivers had an issue with the colder-than-expected race conditions.
Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, and Sainz all lamented about the lack of grip due to the temperatures in Las Vegas. In a Motorsport Week news story, Ricciardo went so far as to recommend moving the race time up saying, “I think for everyone’s health and safety, bring it forward.”
He also mentioned treating or cleaning the surface to give it more grip.
LVGP impact on Las Vegas casino businesses
Las Vegas casino operators had high expectations for LVGP, but seem to be reporting mixed results.
MGM Resorts says LVGP was its “highest-grossing weekend” ever. Some sources say it appears as though Caesars might have missed the 5% lift expected from LVGP weekend. Caesars and other publicly owned casino operators will reveal results during their fourth-quarter earnings call in Feb.
Outside of the Las Vegas casinos, some local businesses want compensation due to lost revenue before and after the 2023 LVGP, according to a Motorsport Week news article.
Looking ahead to 2024 LVGP preparations
The 2024 LVGP will be the second for the 10-year contract between Clark County and F1. Under this deal, the race will continue to take place on public and private roads in and around the Strip.
Both sides can renegotiate the deal after the 2025 race. It wouldn’t be a surprise if there were changes to the agreement based on issues Las Vegas residents had getting around town before, during, and after the 2023 LVGP.
The long pre-race roadwork headaches from setting up the LVGP circuit in 2023 shouldn’t be as bad moving forward. While there will still be grandstands and lights installed again there won’t have to be as much paving.
In addition to fewer road closures to pave, race organizers will be able to use the experience of setting up the 2023 LVGP to streamline any efforts setting up the 2024 course. For comparison, it only takes F1 six weeks to set up the Monaco Grand Prix race.