F1 personnel call for changes to Las Vegas GP schedule: “Everybody is leaving slightly f***ed”

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The Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend was a roller coaster for everyone.

FP1 lasted 9 minutes, FP2 ran several hours later than scheduled, causing general dissatisfaction not only for the public who were unable to watch the session, but also for the teams as they all had to stay up late to finish practice at 4:00am.

The race started at 10:00pm local time. This was a big challenge for everyone in the paddock, coming from Europe, with an 8 or 9-hour time difference to the state of Nevada.

Although the event was far from perfect after Thursday’s events, the general consensus of the paddock was that it was successful.

However, team leaders, representing all members, suggested that the timing of the action in Las Vegas was particularly challenging.

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Fred Vasseur, who suffered a major upset in practice with Sainz’s incident, commented that, now that F1 is a worldwide event and not confined to Europe, it is a challenge to find decent starting times, but he said they would find them:

“If we have to improve, it’s perhaps the timing.

“In the past, we had no issue because F1 was just for the European people, and we had to stick to the European timing, and it was okay.

“Now it’s a worldwide project, and it’s much more difficult to find something fitting with the expectations of the 24-hour zone. But we will adjust it.”

Christian Horner, who described the timing of the Grand Prix as “brutal”, said everyone was closing the weekend wrecked, and he suggested that moving the schedule forward by even two hours would go a long way towards meeting the challenge:

“One of the things to look at is the running schedule because it has been brutal for the team and all the men and women behind the scenes.

“Everybody is leaving Vegas slightly f***ed!

“One way or another it has been a brutal weekend for everyone behind the scenes, and I think we need to look at how we can improve that for the future.

“I think run it a little earlier in the evening because you are never going to keep every television audience totally happy,” Horner added. “This is an American race. If you run it 8pm in the evening or something like that it would just be a bit more comfortable for the men and women working behind the scenes.”

Mike Krack was a little less bothered by the scheduling issues but commented that changes (if any) need to be well thought through and not acted on straight away: “We shouldn’t shoot too quickly now, because of the excitement, because of the tiredness. But I think it’s possible to incorporate what the race promotion needs and what the staff needs. It just takes a bit of work.”

One interesting point of view came from AlphaTauri CEO Peter Bayer, who previously worked at the FIA, Bayer said his team would support a schedule change but said it all had to be looked at from a broader point of view, as street circuit schedules are not so easy to set up: “We would certainly support it,” he said. “But I have a bit of experience, coming from the FIA, and I know how difficult it was for Formula E in many cities. Closing the streets has a huge impact on the people who live here.

“We will have to review everything and see how we can improve.”

Representing Alfa Romeo, Xevi Pujolar, the Swiss team’s head of Trackside Engineering, commented that he can normally cope very well with schedule adjustments, but admitted that Las Vegas was particularly difficult, that he was unable to sleep for more than three or four hours at night, and that he was even more tired than when he has had to work overtime on the circuit:

“For me personally normally I think I am adapting quite well, I don’t mind if it’s earlier or later.

“But for this race weekend… I’ve never been struggling so much. I dont know why, but I’m really very very tired — and the problem is I cannot sleep.

“I’ve spoken to some collegues from the team and everyone is in a similar situation. You go back to the hotel, you sleep 3 hours or 4 hours, then you keep waking up and for some reason — being so late — it’s difficult to rest.

The Spaniard explained that it felt completely different to other night races, such as Singapore, adding:

“This one, I feel more tired than when we have no curfew. For us it’s terrible.”

Ahead of the weekend, drivers such as Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri had raised concerns about the timing, but at the conclusion of round 22 of the season, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez supported the views of their fellow drivers.

The Australian, noting that Las Vegas is planned to be at the start of a triple-header that contains Qatar and Abu Dhabi, said: “Yeah, that doesn’t get my vote! Now knowing that, they have to bring it forward. It’s going to be a big round because we’re going to get wrecked, especially at the end of the season. I’ve only done like six races [this year] and I can feel it already! Hopefully they can do something like that.”

The reigning champion suggested the creation of an “American tour”, as jumping from Las Vegas to Abu Dhabi is “too much”: “Maybe it would be ideal to find a different kind of date because I find that maybe we need to do more of an American tour. I know, of course, maybe for ticket sales, I don’t know if that’s ideal. So maybe we can find a bit of a solution there.

“I think the 12-hour time zone shifts and also completely different timings for racing also is… I find that a bit much.”

For his part, Pérez supported his team-mate’s opinion, as he mentioned that at this stage of the season making this journey is very tiring and added that for him it would be nice if the final race was the Las Vegas GP as it is very close to his home: “For me, I think it was a great first event but I would change [it].

“Like Max says, just to think that we have to go now to Abu Dhabi, probably the longest distance that we have to travel in the whole year.

“So yeah, probably look at it and probably make Vegas the final race. That will be also very nice for me; I’m only two hours away from Guadalajara so that would be a nice end.”

Heading into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race of the season, everyone on the grid seems to be exhausted, however, this is the final push to close the season on a high note, some just to close the season with more points and others, to get a better position in the Drivers’ Championship.