By Emily Myers || Staff Writer
The Formula 1 World Championship has added a new race to its calendar this year right here in the United States – the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Taking place last weekend as the penultimate race of the season, it was a highly anticipated event, with lots of preparation ensuring the whole event was fun and safe for everyone.
Chief Innovation Officer for the City of Las Vegas, Michael Sherwood, spoke about the work involved in this preparation.
“An event like this is a vast undertaking, involving local, state, and federal resources, coordinating together to ensure a successful outcome,” Sherwood said. “It has been a year in discussions, planning, construction [and] execution. So many great people coming together to create such a unique experience.”
Events began on Wednesday with an opening ceremony at 7:30 P.M. This ceremony, although unique and eye-catching, wasn’t a hit with everyone. It featured musical performances from several different artists, including big names like Journey, Keith Urban, and John Legend. After these performances, the 20 drivers were introduced to the crowd by standing on platforms that were lifted when their team was announced.
The spectacle, while crowd-pleasing, was not appreciated by all drivers. Lando Norris and Max Verstappen, among other drivers, commented that they weren’t big fans of the entertainment side of pre-race celebrations and would rather focus on driving. However, F1 is still a business and will likely continue to hold these ceremonies as a way to make money.
The second day was much more eventful, with Free Practices 1 and 2 on the schedule. About nine minutes into Free Practice 1, a manhole cover on the track was knocked loose, and badly damaged Carlos Sainz’s car. The last 51 minutes of the session were abandoned so that the rest of the manhole covers could be tested to prevent another similar incident.
This inspection delayed Free Practice 2 by two and a half hours. Fans in the grandstands and around the track were forced to leave because security shifts were supposed to end at 1:00 A.M., and the delayed FP2 didn’t end up starting until 2:30 A.M. People with single-day tickets were given merchandise vouchers as compensation, but a group of disgruntled fans filed a class-action lawsuit against the Las Vegas Grand Prix in response, seeking at least $30,000.
On the agenda for the next night was Free Practice 3, which saw no incidents until Alex Albon hit a wall, ending the session four minutes early.
At midnight, it was time for the qualifying sessions. Charles Leclerc had the fastest lap time, putting his car in pole position for the race. The other Ferrari of Sainz was second; however, his 10-place grid penalty for replacing his engine after the damage sustained in FP1 put him in the 12th spot for the race. Verstappen benefitted from this, moving from third place to being in the front row with Leclerc.
At last, the start time for the Saturday race came around. Though fans and drivers were concerned about how the race would go after the earlier drama, it turned out to be one of the most exciting races of the season. An eventful first corner saw Verstappen taking the lead early on, but not by as big a margin as we’ve seen before. Several drivers had to take an early pit stop after debris from the first corner resulted in a Virtual Safety Car. On Lap 3, Norris lost control of his McLaren after hitting a bump, crashing his car into a wall in a scary crash. This led to a full Safety Car, and Norris taking a trip to the hospital as a precaution. At the time of publication, Norris is in stable condition and on track to drive in next week’s grand prix.
The fight for first place became between Leclerc and the Red Bull of Sergio Perez. As Verstappen made his way up through the grid after a pit stop, he made contact with George Russell when the Mercedes turned into him at a corner, which resulted in another Safety Car to clean up the debris – both cars were able to remain in the race. Many teams took this opportunity to do a pit stop.
A couple of laps later, it was looking like it would be a 1-2 finish for the Red Bulls, with Verstappen in the lead and Perez in second. However, Leclerc fought Perez to the finish line and took second place at the very end.
Overall, the Las Vegas track proved to be as flashy and showy as expected, but with a surprisingly action-packed race to back it up. Hopefully, there can be more races scheduled in the city, further increasing F1’s appeal in the United States.
Freshman Emily Myers is a Staff Writer. Her email is email@example.com.