Las Vegas GP: F1’s £400m gamble pays off as ‘2.7 billion fans’ tune in

The Las Vegas Grand Prix was deemed a success and its second event will take place in November 2024

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Formula 1 has grown rapidly in the United States in recent years and even with its obvious risks, the audacious decision to host the Las Vegas Grand Prix on the famous Nevada strip appears to have paid off handsomely.

There has been a sharp rise in interest from Americans in F1 over the past five years, owing to Liberty Media’s expansion into North American territories and the popularity of Netflix series Drive to Survive.

All three American races in Vegas, Austin and Miami have been extremely successful due to the massive rise in fans as well as the lucrative sponsorship deals. But the inaugural Las Vegas GP can now boast at how it has pulled in some astronomical numbers.

The promoters for the race reportedly invested almost $500 million (£394m) to ensure that the first race to be held in Nevada in 39 years was an unmissable event.

Over 316,000 tickets were sold across the entire race weekend, with the average spectator spending an eye-watering $4,100 (£3,324) during their visit to Sin City – four times higher than the average visitor. And the domino effect of hosting F1 in Vegas spread to areas such as hospitality too, with hotels and casinos experiencing huge rises in revenue.

It is believed that the overall contribution, factoring in wages and payments to suppliers, brought in $800m (£631m) to the U.S.

F1 executives also claim the Las Vegas GP reached 2.7 billion people across the weekend worldwide, although this is not to be confused with TV viewing figures, with ESPN reporting over 1.15m people tuned in to watch in the U.S.

Max Verstappen voices Las Vegas GP opposition

Not everything ran smoothly on Las Vegas’ F1 debut, however. In practice, a loose drain cover broke off and destroyed the floor of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, wrecking the Spaniard’s weekend through no fault of his own.

And in the run-up to the race on Sunday, drivers and spectators were unhappy with the decision to host the race in the evening, with temperatures plummeting to below freezing at one stage.

Safety concerns were raised about whether the race should go ahead and a practice session was cancelled after just eight minutes on Friday, leaving fans furious with the lack of action on the track.

Max Verstappen was one of the most vocal drivers in airing his views about the decision to race in Vegas, likening it to a “National League” track when comparing it with “Champions League” event in Monaco.

However, the Dutchman happily chanted ‘Viva Las Vegas’ when he crossed the line – and F1 fans will have to get used to Vegas being on the calendar after it was awarded a three-year contract until 2025.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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