Why the Las Vegas GP Spells Bad News for Longtime F1 Fans
A third race in America has been added to the calendar but at what cost to F1's tradition & history?
Courtesy - RACEFANS.net
Formula 1's keen interest in expanding its American market took another major step forward last week with the announcement of the Las Vegas Grand Prix. The race will debut in 2023 and will take place around some of Vegas' most iconic landmarks and attractions. The Las Vegas GP will be the USA's third Grand Prix on the 2023 calendar and the excitement about Formula 1 in Sin City is definitely noticeable. But as the party preparations begin and Vegas ready's itself for the circus of Formula 1, there are a group of F1 fans who are on the outside looking in and they're not too happy about what they see. With the sports ever growing calendar and Liberty Media's desires to go towards the highest bidder, longtime fans of Formula 1 racing are asking what this new race will cost the sport in terms of other notable Grand Prix's on the calendar. Could the announcement of a third race in the United States be a bad sign for F1's most loyal fans and what venues are at risk for the years to come?
The New Las Vegas Track
Courtesy - RACEFANS.net
The last time Las Vegas featured on a Formula 1 calendar was back in 1982 when it was known as the Caesars Palace Grand Prix. The track was laid out in the parking lot of the Caesars Palace hotel and was set up as a temporary circuit. This experiment in the dessert failed for both Vegas and F1 as the race was axed after just two years and F1 hasn't returned until now. In November of 2023, we will see the debut of the Las Vegas Grand Prix on a 6.1KM street circuit that runs anti-clockwise. The 14 corners will wind their way through the Vegas streets with an 800m run down Koval Lane, a sweeping left hander that passes the MSG Sphere arena, and a slow left hander that will bring drivers onto Las Vegas Boulevard otherwise known as the Las Vegas Strip. With very few corners, this track is another high speed challenge with expected top speeds of around 342KM/H (212MPH). The race will also be held uniquely on a Saturday night, with lights out at 10PM Eastern time.
Tracks At Risk Due To Expansion
The new Las Vegas Grand Prix also means the calendar would stand at 24 races, nearing the cutoff as agreed to in the Concorde Agreement which would begin to put more historic races at risk. The biggest tracks at risk are the ones with expiring contracts such as Paul Ricard, Mexico City, and Spa-Francorchamps. Although Spa is considered one of the greatest racing circuits in the world, it lacks one important quality that the F1 bosses are looking for... the ability to make boat loads of money. The Belgium Grand Prix isn't a cash cow for Formula 1 and neither is the French Grand Prix, especially considering Paul Ricard is not a favorite of fans or drivers. But another race at risk of being dropped is the Monaco Grand Prix. The announcement of the Las Vegas GP is sort of a warning to the Monaco GP that its status as F1's crown jewel might be no more. “I think Monaco needs to come up to the same commercial terms as other grands prix and also maybe needs to work with ways they can adapt their track because as our cars have become bigger, the racing has become more difficult.” - Zak Brown
No official announcements have been made on these circuits at risk but it is a sign of changing times in the landscape of Formula 1 and that is sure to upset many.
Las Vegas GP Bad News For Hardcore F1 Fans??
Courtesy - RACEFANS.net
New tracks are always exciting and the backdrop for races in Las Vegas, Miami and others provide an interesting spectacle for F1. But if F1 continues to put money ahead of the very essence of the sport, they run the risk of alienating even the most hardcore of Formula 1 fans. It's no secret that F1 has tried to capitalize on the Drive to Survive hype of the last few years but will this strategy of catering to these type of 'new' fans pay off in the long run? Most fans who've just started watching F1 won't understand the significance of races in Monaco and Spa so it won't matter to them if they disappear, but what about the loyal, lifelong fans? Yes the streets of Monte Carlo don't provide great racing but Monaco is considered to be one of the most important and prestigious automobile races in the world. It has been around since 1955 and the history of the circuit and the unique challenges it presents are essential to Formula 1's identify as the pinnacle of motorsport. And if Spa is dropped off the calendar in favor of new street circuits, that would be down right criminal. Unlike Monaco, Spa usually gives us great racing and the circuit also has a rich history in Formula 1. As Ayrton Senna once said, "If you take away Eu Rouge, you take away the reason I do this."- Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen also summed it up well by saying; "In the end you have to keep passion for the circuits as a sport. Only new tracks and street circuits… I don’t find that very interesting myself."
Here at the BMF1Show, we've advocated for more races in the Americas but not at artificial street tracks. Just imagine the tremendous circuits in the US that F1 ignored in favor of pop up street tracks in party cities that bring in loads of money. New venues like Las Vegas and Miami have a potential to create their own history and be good racing circuits but the historic venues like Monaco, Spa, Silverstone and others needs to be protected at all costs. Whether a rotating calendar would be the solution or something else, for now and for future, F1 needs to remember where it comes from. If Monaco or Spa is at risk, then how long before other legendary circuits like Suzuka or Montreal are axed in favor of the highest bidder? Hopefully these new races in the US will be positive for the sport and that the concerns laid out in this video won't come fruition. But ever since Liberty Media took over Formula 1, it seems as though they are making a mistake that many large companies do when building a brand and that's to never leave your core audience.