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Las Vegas Grand Prix 2023

Are F1 drivers expecting distraction from the Las Vegas Sphere?

The Las Vegas Sphere is now a major spot on the city landscape and will be part of the background for this weekend's Grand Prix weekend. But might its bright lights distract the drivers?

Las Vegas
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

On the eve of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, the Sphere entertainment arena has been a talking point due to its unmissable stretch across the city skyline.

Standing at 112 metres high and 157 metres wide, its walls are made up of 1.2 million LED lights - making it the largest LED display in the world.

The venue opened its doors in September earlier this year with Irish rock band U2 pausing its 36 show-residency in light of Formula 1's arrival in Las Vegas.

Although night races are nothing new to F1, the Las Vegas backdrop is set to make for the most colourful experience yet with the Sphere playing a major part in the driver's vision around the lap.

“It’s quite bright, in the evening it's bright,” said Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas. “We’re obviously driving quite low and the sphere is quite high up.

“So we’ll find out. Every night race, you have quite a bit of reflection, but fewer colours. There’s more colours here.”

Three-time World Champion Max Verstappen is hopeful that the Sphere won't have an ugly representation during the weekend.

“I hope they put something nice on it,” the Dutchman said. It was then suggested to Verstappen that his face could be an option, to which he responded: “No, that definitely is a distraction for me. I might shunt into the wall. So let's not do that.”

The Sphere's construction began in 2019 but its grand opening was delayed when the Covid-19 pandemic forced the suspension of the build.

As part of its major investment into the Las Vegas Grand Prix event, F1 has rented the Sphere for the weekend and is expected to display advertising on its screens throughout three days of action.

Drivers will pass by the massive globe as they run through Turns 7, 8 and 9.

Measures have already been taken to minimise the distractions that drivers will face during the race weekend, with the colours red, blue and yellow banned when cars are on the track to avoid mixing them up with the LED panels trackside, which reflect live track conditions.

“It’s going to be an interesting one,” said Mercedes' George Russell. “We’ve often got LED lights around us, but never so much in your peripheral. And it's a pretty spectacular building, to say the least.

“I recognise why they've banned those three colours. But I think with the vastness of that if I saw a big red ball on there, I don’t think I’d be backing off thinking it was a red flag.

“That's one of the exciting things about this race - we’re going into a bit of unknown territory with bits and pieces.”

Ultimately, the focus that drivers install before getting into the car will likely prevail over any concerns that the bright lights could lead them astray on the race track.

“If you're leading the race, it could potentially be a distraction,” commented Daniel Ricciardo. “If you're having a lonely race, maybe it's a positive distraction!

“I think it's very obvious. It's huge. Like we're not going to miss it. But truthfully, when you get in that kind of rhythm and in that zone, it's like you're aware of everything, but you don't really notice it.

“Maybe you notice it, but doesn't kind of spark your awareness to a point where it's obviously affecting what you do.”

F1 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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