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Las Vegas Grand Prix 2023

Saturday F1 races are not as rare as you might think

F1 is gearing up for its first Saturday race in nearly four decades with the Las Vegas Grand Prix - in a break with the Sunday tradition - but it's not always been the case of racing on a Sunday.

To news overview © XPBimages

The last non-Sunday Grand Prix in Formula 1 was way back in the 1985 South African Grand Prix - held on Saturday 19th October, 1985 at Kyalami.

It was won by Williams' Nigel Mansell with Keke Rosberg and Alain Prost completing the podium.

That was the 419th World Championship Grand Prix, with the upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix set to be the 1,100th - a run of 680 races on a Sunday.

Owing to the timezones involved, the Vegas race is set to begin at 22:00 local time on Saturday night - Primetime - which is 01:00 on the east coast of the US and 06:00 in the UK on Sunday morning.

If the race went for a 22:00 start on Sunday night, the eight-hour difference would mean that the race would just be starting as most of Europe would be getting up ready to go to work at 06:00 on a Monday morning.

The first two races of 2024 will also be on a Saturday owing to Ramadan.

But despite it not happening for more than a generation, Saturday races are not as uncommon as you think.

Saturday races in F1

The very first World Championship Grand Prix at Silverstone on May 13th 1950 was held on a Saturday.

Won by the first World Champion Giuseppe 'Nino' Farina in front of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, the Alfa Romeo driver led a 1-2-3 as Juan Manuel Fangio retired with car trouble.

Until the 1980s, the British GP - as that first race was - was often held on a Saturday, with the 1969 race taking place on July 19th, the day before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to land on the moon on Apollo 11.

Of the 74 races thus far not held on a Sunday, 58 have been on a Saturday, with those Indianapolis 500s of 1950-1960 throwing up some interesting days.

Initially, the Indy 500 was included on the schedule to firmly put the 'World' in World Championship, with these 11 races ensuring F1 World Championship races have been held on every day of the week.

The race was traditionally held on May 30th - Memorial Day - with the first World Championship 500 in 1950 being the only F1 race to ever be run on a Tuesday.

Other non-weekend races include Dutch, Spanish and South African Monday races - with the 1968 South African GP being held on New Year's Day and being famous for being Jim Clark's record-breaking 25th F1 win, eclipsing Fangio's tally of 24.

It would be Clark's last F1 race as he was killed in a Formula 2 accident at Hockenheim in April before the next F1 round.

When the grid lines up in Vegas, it will continue the 'Saturday' tradition of the races held in Nevada, with the 1982 title-decider and 1983 event among those to be run on the day.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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