F1’s head of race operations admits Liberty Media focusing on the show in Las Vegas

The race has been embroiled in controversy since being announced in 2022


Graham Watson is Formula 1’s current head of race operations and has over 25 years of experience in the sport, working for teams such as Benetton and Lotus, but even the demands of the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix have managed to catch the sport out, leaving Liberty Media prioritising a good show over a good race.

In the build-up to what he describes as “the biggest challenge of the year”, he also reveals that Liberty Media wants to focus on producing a good show for fans with the race quality not being a priority, as the American owners of F1 push a logical conundrum on their crews.

Liberty Media itself is a promoter of the race,” Watson says to Formule1.nl.com. “So we’re doing something we’ve never done before.

“It will be a special event in every way because the focus, more than in other races, is on the show. The Grand Prix is secondary.”

The ex-Honda man also highlights one such area that the runners of F1 bid to give the locals and commuters a good show, by exposing the track to the public before and after the sessions in order to help improve the local commerce of the Nevada city.

“One of the challenges is that they want to open the circuit to the public every day before and after the sessions,” Watson added. “In Singapore, the track is closed for four days, but not in Las Vegas.

“Because the Strip and the boulevard, for example, are important access roads for commuters and tourists who want to spend money in the casinos. It means, among other things, that we have to check daily that nothing has broken.”

Further issues with the Las Vegas GP

Watson also outlined other issues of hosting the race such as the fact that it’s at night at a street circuit compromises flexibility and preparedness, whilst security becomes an extra challenge to manage.

It adds to the growing list of controversies associated with the Grand Prix such as ticket prices and worker strikes.

Another issue is people have intentionally cut fibre optic and audio cables, leaving F1 unable to do anything about it in response although he notes that a Grand Prix is easier to stage than the Tour de France for security purposes and that they do “a good job.”

Preparedness is also an issue compared to other street circuits and night races like Singapore or Bahrain that have had years to iron out any problems. This is the first time the race has taken place in Nevada since 1982 and with the close walls gives little in the way of forgiveness.

When is the Las Vegas GP?

Free Practice 1 for the Las Vegas GP gets underway at 20:30 Pacific Time (PT) marking an early morning start for British and European audiences. Viewers from the UK can tune in at 04:30 GMT on Friday to watch the first cars hit the new track.

Qualifying takes place at 00:00 PT in Nevada, which is a start time of 08:00 GMT on Saturday morning for those in the UK. The race starts at 22:00 PT on Saturday night whilst UK fans will need to tune in at 06:00 GMT on Sunday morning to watch the lights go out.

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
- Advertisment -


Charles Leclerc Monaco GP record: Ferrari star out to banish seven-year curse

After growing up in Monaco, Charles Leclerc must know the streets of Monte Carlo like the back of his...
Joey Logano leads the field at the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway | NASCAR

Was the NASCAR All-Star Race’s option tyre a success?

The NASCAR All-Star Race is often used as a testing ground for concepts that might be incorporated into points...
McLaren F1 launch bespoke Senna livery for the 2024 Monaco GP | McLaren

McLaren unveil stunning Senna tribute livery for 2024 Monaco GP

McLaren have announced a special Ayrton Senna-inspired livery for the 2024 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, celebrating the legendary...
Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Australian GP | Mercedes / Sulay Kelly

Race to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes down to two candidates

As Lewis Hamilton prepares to leave Mercedes for Ferrari ahead of the 2025 Formula 1 season, there has been...
Ollie Bearman with his new helmet ahead of his practice outing in Imola for Haas

Haas boss outlines how Oliver Bearman can secure 2025 F1 seat after Imola audition

Oliver Bearman has been hailed for his faultless performance by Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu in practice at the...

Esteban Ocon tempted by Mercedes 2025 switch as Alpine doubts emerge

Esteban Ocon has opened the door to replacing Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, as the Alpine driver ponders his future...
Toto Wolff at 2023 United States Grand Prix | Mercedes / Sebastian Kawka

Toto Wolff ‘can’t wait’ to prove Horner wrong after latest Mercedes jibe

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has fired back at Christian Horner for suggesting over 200 employees left Mercedes for Red...
Race winner Max Verstappen and runner-up Lando Norris of McLaren celebrate on the podium after the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Winners and Losers from 2024 Emilia Romagna GP

Lando Norris' miraculous late-race pace brought a previously lacklustre 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to life as the McLaren...
Max Verstappen leads Lando Norris of McLaren at the start of the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Driver Ratings – Emilia Romagna GP 2024

Max Verstappen returned to the top of the podium after seeing off a late challenge from Lando Norris to...
Scott McLaughlin at 2024 Indy 500 Pole Day | Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

Scott McLaughlin secures pole for Indy 500, as Team Penske sweep front row

Scott McLaughlin clinched the P1 Award in IndyCar's Fast Six qualifying for the 108th Indy 500, leading Team Penske...
- Advertisment -