Formula One: Glitzy Las Vegas set to 'take F1 race weekends to the next level'

A Las Vegas night race makes its debut on the FIA race calendar. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS – Formula One has provisionally added a race that could rival the Singapore Grand Prix in the glitz and glamour stakes with the entrance of Las Vegas on the 2023 schedule.

The move, announced on Tuesday, takes the total number of races on the calendar to a record 24.

Las Vegas will be the penultimate round on Nov 18 as F1 quickly adds a third race in the United States after Miami joined the schedule this season. The other American race is the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, which in 2012 signed a 10-year deal. 

Like the Singapore GP, which has been pencilled in for Sept 17, the Las Vegas GP is set to be a floodlit race. 

It will also be the first race to be held on a Saturday since 1985.

The circuit is still subject to official approval by the International Automobile Federation (FIA), motor sports’ governing body. 

But F1’s chief executive Stefano Domenicali has already waxed lyrical about the event, whose 6.12km track along the famed Las Vegas Strip will see drivers roar past landmarks such as the Bellagio Fountains and Caesars Palace. It is expected to attract 170,000 fans.

“The Las Vegas Grand Prix is going to take F1 race weekends to the next level,” he said. “The entire city is buzzing with excitement for next year’s race.” 

The 2023 F1 season will start in Bahrain on March 5 and finish in Abu Dhabi on Nov 26.

The Chinese GP, last raced in 2019, returns despite lingering uncertainty over Covid-19 restrictions. So does the Qatar GP at Losail, which made its debut in 2021 but is not being raced this year because the country is hosting the football World Cup.

The French GP, first raced in 1906, making it the oldest grand prix, is dropped. It was previously dropped between 2009 and 2017 before returning at Le Castellet.

The Sochi GP, scratched this year following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, also does not return.

Two races considered under threat – Belgium and Monaco – are retained though Belgium’s longer-term future remains uncertain, with organisers signing only a one-year extension last month.

Formula One said a new three-year deal had now been signed with the Automobile Club de Monaco. The principality, historically the most glamorous race, retains its traditional May 28 slot as the eighth race and middle part of a triple-header with Italy’s Imola and Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona.

“Formula One has unprecedented demand to host races and it is important we get the balance right for the entire sport,” added Domenicali.

The global distribution of races continues to shift. There are 10 in Europe, seven in Asia, five in North America and one each in South America and Australia.

F1 has also been negotiating with South Africa’s Kyalami circuit but that deal has yet to be done. 

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, FIA president, said the slate of 24 races “is further evidence of the growth and appeal of the sport on a global scale”.

The calendar avoids a clash with several key sports events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans sportscar race which will be celebrating its 100th anniversary on June 10-11 and the Wimbledon men’s and women’s tennis finals on July 15-16.

There was no confirmation of which races would be held in the sprint format, with the sport seeking as many as six after three this year. AFP REUTERS.

Calendar for the 2023 Formula One season:

March 5 - Bahrain

March 19 - Saudi Arabia (Jeddah)

April 2 - Australia (Melbourne)

April 16 - China (Shanghai)

April 30 - Azerbaijan (Baku)

May 7 - Miami

May 21 - Emilia Romagna (Imola)

May 28 - Monaco

June 4 - Spain (Barcelona)

June 18 - Canada (Montreal)

July 2 - Austria (Spielberg)

July 9 - Britain (Silverstone)

July 23 - Hungary

July 30 - Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)

Aug 27 - Netherlands (Zandvoort)

Sept 3 - Italy (Monza)

Sept 17 - Singapore

Sept 24 - Japan (Suzuka)

Oct 8 - Qatar

Oct 22 - United States (Austin)

Oct 29 - Mexico

Nov 5 - Brazil (Interlagos)

Nov 18 - Las Vegas*

Nov 26 - Abu Dhabi

*subject to course approval 

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