F1 car with Marlboro branding

Viva Las Vegas!

For 2023, Formula 1 returns to Las Vegas but this time to a brand new F1 track! Cars will be hurling down the famous Las Vegas Strip well in excess of 200 mph in Formula 1’s bid to create the “Monza of America” Grand Prix. With this F1 track in 2023, Las Vegas will be the third venue in the United States in a single season (with Miami and Austin being the other two) and signifies how important of a locale the United States is to the growing popularity of Formula 1.

We have yet to see cars turn a wheel in anger on the track, but in looking at some of the simulator runs on YouTube that various folks have posted, I can’t help but be a bit underwhelmed. It reminds me a bit of Yas Marina, Singapore, or Baku — 90-degree turns separated by some long straights. I’m not entirely sure how exciting the racing will be on the 2023 Las Vegas F1 track, although we have seen some fireworks at Baku in recent seasons

Let’s have a look at the new Las Vegas F1 track in 2023 designed by Herman Tilke:

The Las Vegas Track Layout

banner on side of track with DRS written vertically

The start/finish straight is rather short leading down to turn 1, a hairpin left-hander. Drivers will be tentative through right hand-turns 2/3/4, waiting until they exit 3 before they can really get any throttle down. Exiting 4, they are led onto the first straight of the 2023 Las Vegas F1 track. The FIA has not released the setup for the track yet, but I suspect we’ll see the first DRS zone here. Formula 1 drivers will stomp on the brake pedal, feeling 4-5 Gs on their shoulder straps just before they enter a 90º right-hander for turn 5.

Next, they’ll sweep left through turn 6 and then a left-right chicane at turns 7 and 8 with a left-hand 90º at turn 9. These three turns will be fairly low speed, and that means drivers can either gain or lose a heap of time here. The exit of turn 9 feeds them into a sweeping right-hander for turn 10 and a sweeping left-hander for turn 11. Turn 12 is another 90º left-hander, where they will then hang out for seemingly an eternity as they blast down the Las Vegas Strip. Turn 13 is merely a kink, and I’d be shocked if anyone was lifting there. I suspect there will be a second DRS zone along this straight, where cars may approach Monza’s top speeds given how long this straight is.

At the end of this monster straight is a 90º left-hander, where, again, the drivers stomp on the brake pedal, this time pulling 5Gs as they enter turn 14, which immediately feeds the right-left chicane of turns 15 and 16. Turn 17 is a bit of a left-hand kink, which I imagine will be taken near full throttle and put the drivers back onto the start/finish straight, completing the lap. Drivers will see 50 laps on the new Las Vegas F1 track in 2023.

So what’s this race going to be like?

Given the length of the circuit and particularly the length of the straights, we should see a lot of passing and probably not much fighting for position. Lending to the ease of passing is how wide the track is. This makes defending your position harder on straights, as there’s plenty of room to blow past. We won’t even have the benefit of a sprint weekend that could see some cars out of position for the race. My prediction is that it will be a predictable race for F1 fans this season.

Track Changes Besides the Las Vegas F1 Track in 2023

road rollers on f1 track

Other tracks besides the new Las Vegas F1 track in 2023 will also see some minor changes. The FIA has noted that given the 2022 major aerodynamic changes to cars, some DRS zones will need to be modified. Bahrain, Jeddah, Melbourne, Baku, and Miami will all experience the modification of their zones to ensure that DRS assists in passing but does not make it a done deal just by getting within the DRS distance. How will they do this? In some cases, it may be to add a DRS zone where passing was more difficult in 2022, which appears likely for Melbourne. In other cases where DRS was made easier, a DRS zone could be removed, or the length of the zone could be shortened so that cars do not have the DRS advantage for as long. 

The FIA has also announced that Baku and Miami will receive some resurfacing, and Jedda will receive changes that will improve driver visibility, as a few of the turns were more blind than the FIA was comfortable with.

April 13, 2023 — CMC Motorsports

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