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F1 news

Why F1 can't listen to persistent Las Vegas criticism

A look at the published 2024 Formula 1 start times shows that the Las Vegas Grand Prix starts at 10 p.m. local time once again. Last year, the call for a change was strong due to the time difference compared to Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Why aren't those concerns being addressed?

Verstappen Las Vegas
Analysis
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Let's cast our minds back a couple of months - almost the entire Formula 1 paddock was sick, weak and nauseous after the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale. The circus had travelled straight from Las Vegas, swallowing a 12-hour time difference.

Several parties were already worried about the 2024 schedule, as the Las Vegas GP is part of a brutal triple header.

Where in 2023 'only' the Abu Dhabi GP followed, this year the Qatar GP will be added to the run of races. The time difference between Las Vegas and Qatar? 11 hours.

Once again, a hefty transit from the city famous for its nightlife immediately awaits. Therefore, it will surprise many F1 fans that the race in Las Vegas is again scheduled at the same time. At 22:00 local time (06:00 GMT time) the red lights will go out on November 23, with Qatar and Abu Dhabi yet to follow.

Daniel Ricciardo, a big supporter of the Las Vegas race, expressed his views on the strange schedule before the 2023 GP.

"I don't know 100 per cent the thoughts behind the schedule, I don't know if they're restricted with taking over the Strip - and I'm sure the hotels and the people that own Vegas, so to speak, have a bit of a say.

"So we could be at the mercy of Vegas and their needs and requirements, and if that is the case, if [F1] had total freedom, which I'm probably not sure they did, then I am pretty surprised we have qualifying at midnight.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner added. “There's going to be many lessons to learn. One of the things we need to look at is the running schedule, because it's been brutal for the team and all the men and women behind the scenes. I think everybody's leaving Vegas slightly f****d.”

But then why isn't any "listening" being done? Ricciardo has hit the nail on the head...

F1 can't completely overturn schedule

F1 is in an awkward situation. In order to host the Las Vegas GP, much of the city must be closed. Roads and streets are impassable when the sessions take place, which has a big impact on residents.

The Strip, for example, is a major hotspot in the city, where a lot of traffic flows. If F1 were to bring the sessions forward, the roads would have to close in the afternoon.

Don't forget that last year, after Carlos Sainz's manhole cover incident, the second free practice session had to be finished by 04:00 local time for the roads to open. So early sessions are not always an option, and whether residents are supportive of that remains to be seen. So far they have not been eager for the race to be staged at all.

Furthermore, Formula 1 also has to consider the ratings. If the sessions are run earlier, they take place in the middle of the night in Europe and F1 would lose a large portion of live viewers if its decides to do that. So do you choose early in the morning or in the middle of the night? You can guess the answer.

It's not that Formula 1 doesn't want to listen - likewise, the times of practice and qualifying have not yet been announced.

Last year qualifying was at midnight local time, and it may well be expected that that session will be brought forward. Whether that will actually happen, time will tell. So far, the drivers and other personnel must once again deal with uncomfortable jet lag.

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