Weather may play a big role in the Las Vegas Grand Prix

Weather may play a big role in the Las Vegas Grand Prix

As the Las Vegas Grand Prix approaches, race officials are promising several factors that could make the race one of the highlights of every Formula 1 season. They are promising speed, as we discussed yesterday. They promise the scenic backdrop of the Las Vegas Strip, which will provide stunning images as 20 Formula 1 drivers zip along the streets of Vegas at night. They promise the full Las Vegas experience, with the opening ceremony featuring introductions from the drivers and some of the biggest names in music.

However, there is one factor that is a bit uncertain, which could make the race one of the most fascinating of the season and beyond.


With the Grand Prix being held at night – the lights will go out for the start of the race at 10:00pm local time – and qualifying being held at midnight local time, this means that the sun will not set to warm the track, and the race will start at midnight local time. Drivers. Add to that the fact that history indicates that by that time in November, temperatures will likely be in the 50s Fahrenheit range, or even colder.

“It’s going to be cold,” McLaren CEO Zak Brown told me last month when he sat down with me. SP Nation. ““I think this could be the coolest race on the calendar.”

These conditions can affect everything from tires to drivers, come race week.

Let’s start with the tires.

This will be the biggest concern for teams, especially during the playoffs. Due to the standard qualifying lineup, all 20 drivers will have 18 minutes during Q1 to record a good enough lap time to advance to Q2, and the five slowest drivers will be eliminated.

The colder it is, the longer it will take drivers to warm their tires to the ideal temperature, which could lead to a chaotic scene as the first quarter winds down.

“It will be a real challenge to get the tires running, but Pirelli is ready for it, and it will be the same challenge for everyone,” Brown added. “So as long as it doesn’t get into the 30s (degree range), that’s when you have a real challenge, I think as long as we stay in the 40s, which I think the average temperature is at that time of year, around 45, it’s going to be a night Fast and beautiful.”

To that end, Pirelli announced last week that the three softest tire compounds – C3, C4 and C5 – would be the options available to teams in Las Vegas.

“The temperature and the asphalt are very smooth, according to the information I have,” said Mario Isola, Pirelli’s motorsport director. “So the grip level will be very bad. I can expect this.”

“I can imagine that with these cold conditions, very cold conditions, and a track that doesn’t generate a lot of energy in the tyres, the warm-up will be difficult,” Isola added.

This has already led to drivers worrying that they will spend the bulk of the time during qualifying warming up their tires to get them into the correct tyre, rather than putting in push laps to try to advance to the next stage of qualifying.

“It should be four degrees, five degrees I think, which will be interesting,” Williams driver Alexander Albon said before the Mexico City Grand Prix. “I wonder if we will do three or four laps in preparation for qualifying, but it will be difficult.”

For Mercedes Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin, the extent of qualifying progress may be down to how cold the weather is.

“It’s just going to depend on exactly how cold it gets,” Shovlin said. Motorsport in September.

“Because if the track is down in the single digits, that’s often the area where you’re going to go for winter testing. “When you’re running, it’s very difficult for the tires to turn it, or there might be grit and stuff,” Shovlin added. “And sometimes you have to.” Just wait until it warms up a little. So, actually, having to race and qualify in those conditions will be interesting.

“All you have to do is try to identify the risks on the new circuit, figure out what the contingencies are going to be, and whether you need any kind of specific car specification to deal with that. And we are going through that at the moment,” Shovlin continued. “But like I said, if the weather is at the very cold end of the forecast, it’s hard to know how the tires will perform.”

Jonathan Eddolls, AlphaTauri’s chief race engineer, agreed with Shovlin’s comparison to pre-season testing.

“Temperatures are probably one of the biggest challenges,” he said. Motorsport in September. “I think we’re expecting about (ten degrees Celsius) of (ambient temperature), which is very similar to a winter test.

“In many years, we’ve done winter testing in Barcelona at these temperatures. So it won’t be completely new for us. But it’s definitely a step too far in terms of where we’re going to run the current tires to what we’re used to in the regular season.

This means that the Las Vegas Grand Prix could be a voyage of discovery for the teams, and could open the door to some unexpected results. Teams that have had tire degradation problems this year, such as Haas, may suddenly find themselves with some advantage.

Or perhaps more accurately, and with less harm.

“It’s a very different temperature window, so we have to run the tires,” said Haas engineering director Aiyao Komatsu. “But if I had to choose hot or cold, I would choose cold conditions at the moment! So hopefully we can get it to work. I think it will be a big challenge for us, especially our team with the tools that we have in terms of pre-event simulation, which is more “Limited compared to let’s say Mercedes.”

As mentioned in Albon’s comments above, drivers are certainly wondering how the tires will hold up in these conditions.

“Then I think the important thing here, as I said, will be the temperature and how the tires behave at those temperatures,” Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr. said before last month’s US Grand Prix.

“Also, because of the design of the track – very long straights – so, the tire will cool down on those straights and then go into the corner at very low downforce, as we expect in Vegas, on a cold tire, on the new surface, I think it’s… “There could be too many variables for the tires and temperatures in general to be a big talking point this weekend. “And the grit, if it’s very cold, as we saw in winter testing… not in Bahrain, but elsewhere. So, yeah, I think those are the things we’ll be watching, but until we get there… You can be as prepared as you want, but until you see what’s happening in the car, you can’t react.

There’s how cold conditions affect drivers in the cockpit during race week.

A few weeks ago, they endured a brutal race at the Qatar Grand Prix, which left the drivers dehydrated to the point of exhaustion. Williams driver Logan Sargeant retired from the race due to the conditions, and Alpine driver Esteban Ocon admitted to vomiting inside his helmet during the race.

In Las Vegas, they will face a different battle.

Stay warm.

“The temperature is one you have to be prepared for, both in terms of the driver’s hands,” McLaren’s Lando Norris said ahead of the US Grand Prix. “You know, you need your hands to work well when you’re driving, so being on top of all that is something we really look forward to — just simple things sometimes, with hand warmers and gloves and whatever else.”

So instead of the trackside ice baths you see drivers enjoying in places like Singapore and Qatar, expect to see more warming stations in the garage area.

“So I think the weather will be cold and dark unlike other night races in the Middle East and Singapore where the weather stays warm even as the sun goes down,” Brown explained to me last month.

“Maybe drivers won’t have to put themselves in ice tubs like they do in Singapore.”

So, while we expect the Las Vegas Grand Prix to be fast, how fast the race will go may depend on how cold the night is.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *