Lewis Hamilton says he is using an iconic Las Vegas landmark to get up to speed on F1’s latest street circuit. For the first time in 41 years since F1 raced in the parking lot of Caesars Palace, F1 is returning to Sin City for the first self-promoted high-profile event in its history.
Owner Liberty Media has spent nearly $500 million over the past year building, among other things, custom pits and paddocks, as well as a 6.201km (6.201km), 17-turn circuit around the Strip and the Sphere. All teams and drivers face a rare moment where they are on a level playing field, with no previous data or experience other than what they have gained in simulator sessions. Hamilton talks about the difficulty of taking on an unknown circuit. “When I go to a new circuit, I can now practice in the simulator and at least get an idea of where Turn 1 is, how the combinations of corners are and how they flow with each other. Once you get in, the element of risk comes in, so you need to learn as quickly as possible how to walk quickly and run the course. “When you’re in the cockpit, you’re looking for a reference point. In the simulator, you don’t have the background of Las Vegas.” “So you learn a lot of things, like where the lights are, where the buildings are, where the markings are on the walls and the gantries,” he said. “Every 100 meters you run, you’re like a sponge trying to absorb everything. The streets are very long. “So it’ll be interesting to see.” Teammate George Russell emphasized the vagaries of this event facing drivers compared to other races on the calendar. Most notable is the fact that qualifying will begin at midnight on Friday night local time, while the race will begin at 10pm on Saturday. Temperatures drop considerably at this time of year, but this weekend is not expected to be as cold as originally expected, with session temperatures around 11-12 degrees Celsius, compared to the single digits originally predicted. But given the amount of heat the rubber loses, especially on long straights leading to heavy braking zones, how the Pirelli tires react in these conditions remains a crucial factor. “Obviously, I’ve done a lot of running in the simulator,” Russell said. “But equally, in the simulator you don’t know how the car and the tires will react to cold temperatures. “It’s going to be much colder than any race we’ve had all season, and how grippy the tarmac will be afterwards. And the bumps that you’re going to face, for example, on the strip.”So you have to go in with a really open mind and be prepared to deal with any limitations.”So you have to go in with a really open mind.” So we have to be ready to deal with whatever limitations we find, and we only have three hours of practice before the actual race, so we have to be quick.”