McLaren and Williams bosses address driver fatigue at Las Vegas GP

A number of drivers have criticised the late session times in Las Vegas, as well as the increased events schedule

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Concerns surrounding driver tiredness due to the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix’s weekend format have been played down by McLaren CEO Zak Brown and Willams team principal James Vowles.

The first Formula 1 race set to take place in Las Vegas since 1982 has seen Liberty Media combine showbiz and racing with an extra pre-race ceremony taking place on the Wednesday before the GP on Saturday night.

With all of the weekend’s action taking place at night to enhance television viewers, F1 personnel will be working until the early hours of the morning doing promotional work alongside their on-track programmes.

Some drivers, such as Max Verstappen, have been critical of the ​​over-sensationalisation of the show at Las Vegas, stating he felt like a ‘clown’ when presented to a crowd during Wednesday night’s opening ceremony.

“I think it’s the same challenge for all the drivers,” Brown told the media. “It’s a big sport, it’s a huge event, there’s a lot of excitement. 

“A lot of fans want to meet their drivers, a lot of sponsors want to do activations, so it’s kind of a luxury challenge if you’d like, so it’s going to be a lot of work for all of us.

“But it’s a big event, and they’re all tremendous athletes, so I’m sure there’ll be just fine.”

F1 in good financial state

Las Vegas’ return comes during a period that has seen a wave of F1 fever grip America after decades of ambivalence.

For the first time since 1982, America has had three races on the F1 calendar, and it has become the first US-based driver on the grid since 2015 with WilliamsLogan Sargeant.

It marks a remarkable turnaround in fortunes from 2020, when the sport faced an uncertain future following a cut in revenue caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which briefly stopped live sports from taking place.

“I think it’s been well said it’s a first-world problem, the sport is in a really healthy state that’s why we have sponsors, partners and a show here fundamentally exactly as Zak,” stated Vowles.

“Our drivers are being pulled left, right, and centre, but it’s a good thing compared to where we were in 2020, we were worried if Formula 1 would even continue it’s an absolute pleasure now to at least see that we’re in a good financial state. 

“It’s just an optimisation problem, and there are two things in there, so jetlag first and foremost, I think what perhaps we didn’t fully realise until we’re here is this isn’t really eastern coast time we’re more into Tokyo time to a certain extent with the hours we’re running. 

“But that’s just an optimisation, they’re incredibly good at working with their trainers to reorientate their food patterns and nutrition in order to get themselves back into the rhythm.

“The second of those is that we’re constantly, for probably the last 10 years we’ve been trying to balance the requirements of partners against the requirements of performance on track, and I think we’re in a fairly good place now.”

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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