The overpriced Las Vegas Grand Prix is by far the most expensive Formula 1 event to attend in the history of the sport. But the F1 weekend schedule is missing something crucial that makes going to the race even worse value for spectators.
Not only will it leave tens of thousands of unsuspecting fans disappointed, but it also poses a risk for the drivers taking to the new track for the first time.
Is the Las Vegas Grand Prix good value?
To try and sell tickets to a motorsport event the organisers need to demonstrate that the spectators are getting good value in return for stumping up their cash.
From the off the Las Vegas F1 event was going to struggle here. Who can really justify spending thousands of dollars to watch some cars race on the street at night? And that’s just the ticket price. Don’t even mention the Vegas hotels, flights and extortionate prices for everything else in Vegas.
But that’s ok. Formula 1 can surely rely on what they do best of all – motorsport – to provide the value. They’ll make sure there’s a jam-packed schedule of on-track action to keep the spectators engaged all day and night, right?
Something's big is missing from the schedule
Go to any motorsport event, be it other Formula 1 races, NASCAR or even a local grass-roots track event, and there’ll be a full timetable of on-track action from a variety of racing series throughout the day.
But if you look at the full Las Vegas F1 schedule you’ll see that the only on-track action across the whole weekend is the Formula 1 cars. There are no support races during the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
And whilst the F1 cars are obviously the main event, that means there’s going to be huge gaps between the Formula One sessions where there’s nothing taking place on track.
F1 events with support races
Support races keep you entertained and engaged in the gaps between the F1 sessions. And more often than not, watching Porsches, F2 or F3 cars is more exciting than watching Max Verstappen dominate for 90 minutes.
Here a list of all of the 2023 Formula 1 events and their support series:
Las Vegas and Qatar are the only 2023 F1 events that don’t have any support races. Qatar at least had a fly-past and air demonstration from Qatar Airways. Vegas has absolutely nothing else.
Bad for spectators
I’d be willing to bet that a huge percentage of fans attending the Las Vegas Grand Prix don’t know about the lack of support races. They’ll be left huddled together trying to keep warm in the 2.5 hours between sessions on the Friday and Saturday.
Yes, as with most other Formula 1 events, the organisers are trying to bump up the value by throwing some big Las Vegas F1 concerts after the racing action has finished each night.
But instead of hanging around in the cold even longer I’d rather have some other racing to watch in between the F1 sessions and then call it a day when the last F1 car pits.
Dangerous for drivers
The Las Vegas Grand Prix track layout is brand new. The laying of FIA-spec asphalt was only finished a matter of days ago. Without any support races, the first cars to drive on the new surface in anger will be the F1 cars at the start of the first free practice session.
The tyre manufacturer Pirelli and the drivers are already concerned about not being able to heat the tyres up in the cold conditions. What they could really do with is a well ‘rubbered-in’ track surface which helps provide more grip and gets the tyres up to temp quicker.
And that’s exactly what they won’t have.
In the post-race press conference after the Qatar Grand Prix where the lack of support races meant the F1 boys were the first to run on the new tarmac, Max Verstappen said:
“And, like, FP1 with cars, you know, sliding around having no grip, I think is important when we go to a track where they’ve put new tarmac, that at least it’s run in a little, y’know? That will then help a lot.”
With the F1 cars being the first to drive on the tarmac and kerbs of the new circuit, who knows what the new circuit will have in store. With the cold conditions the first few sessions of the Vegas F1 weekend could be chaos.