Despite Fears of “Oily” Track, Clueless Toto Wolff Hypes Big Las Vegas GP “Spectacle”

Published 11/14/2023, 11:55 AM EST

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via Reuters

The last time Formula 1 visited Las Vegas, here’s what the conditions were like. In 1981 and 1982, the Caesars Palace GP happened in the parking lot of—you guessed it—Caesars Palace. It was an anticlockwise circuit during a time when that layout wasn’t as predominant as it is in modern-day F1. Additionally, drivers had the Nevada heat beating down on them throughout the race, making for extremely tough conditions. 41 years later, the Las Vegas GP will have conditions that are the ‘81 and ‘82 heat’s polar opposite. That’s precisely what’s got Toto Wolff & Co. in a fix.

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Despite the fix, it’s also the first time F1 is visiting Sin City in four decades! That comes with its own excitement and anticipation. Considering this, Wolff was the perfect combination of utter cluelessness and absolute excitement in the build-up to the first edition of the Las Vegas GP

Toto Wolff & Co. and F1 will drift into the unknown at the Las Vegas GP

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Last year, F1 announced the return of the circus in Las Vegas. To avoid a repeat of the underwhelming Caesars Palace GPs, the organization invested in building a brand-new track. With that settled, it scheduled the race for November 2023, without considering the temperatures. Talk about a rookie error. “The track is brand new. That means the surface can be quite greasy or oily because that’s what asphalt does when it’s new,” said Wolff in an interview with Bloomberg. F1 may not have thought about the temperature but at least it gave teams two weeks to prepare.

Wolff explained how Vegas would be unknown territory for everyone. “The drivers have been in the simulator and I spoke to Lewis [Hamilton] last week. We don’t really know what we expect because—we’re racing between 10 and 12 local time—Nevada nights can be pretty cold. The only night racing experience we have is Singapore and a little bit of the Middle East. But obviously never on a new track close to five degrees centigrade with Pirelli tires that have never experienced these kind of temperatures.” Needless to say, the Mercedes team boss doesn’t know how the weekend will play out in terms of racing. But he sure knows it’ll be entertaining.

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“Las Vegas stands for entertainment and show, and Liberty [Media] came up with the plan, which is great,” said Wolff. “Going there, with this new format in the night, is going to be spectacular. We haven’t raced in those conditions before, but in any case, it’s going to be a big spectacle. Whether it’ll be a spectacle to remember or one to forget, we’ll find out when the weekend gets underway. To spice things up even more, the weather conditions are set to make Wolff and every other team’s temperature woes even more challenging. 

Lewis Hamilton’s “Incredible” Las Vegas GP Dream in Danger as Toto Wolff Loathes ‘Undeserving’ Mercedes

Rain could add to the Las Vegas GP’s disruption

The new track coupled with the extremely low temperatures will make life for drivers really difficult. Finding grip on a new track is challenging as it is. With the low temperatures and the track layout—straights covering the better part of the 6.1km track—warming up the tires will add an extra layer of challenge. To add to this, sprinkle in rain as a factor. There’s more than a 50% chance of rain on Friday and Saturday—the qualifying and race days.

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Over a weekend, due to cars laying down rubber on the track, grip usually increases. But if there’s rain, it’ll wash all the rubber away, taking it back to square one. Remember how quickly track conditions became tricky when temperatures dropped during qualifying in Brazil? The Las Vegas Street Circuit will be worse. Here’s what Red Bull team principal Christian Horner had to say about the track. “I was watching Max on the simulator yesterday driving around the circuit. It could be like driving on ice.”

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WATCH THIS STORY | Rich History of F1 Races in Las Vegas Throughout the Years

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan

757Articles

One take at a time

Aditi is a senior F1 writer at EssentiallySports. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar

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