Formula One will race Las Vegas Strip in 2023

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Formula One is all-in on the United States with a race on the Las Vegas Strip added to the 2023 F1 calendar as the most glamorous motorsports series in the world continues to expand its North American footprint.

The Bellagio, Caesars Palace and the MSG Sphere will be among the landmarks along the temporary street course built for a Saturday night race in November 2023. The race is a first for F1 in that the series will promote the event alongside Liberty Media Corp., the American parent company of F1.

The Las Vegas race will be the third stop in the United States next season for F1, which has raced at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, since 2012 and in May will make its debut in Miami. Barring any shake-ups, existing races in Mexico City and Montreal will bring F1 to North America five times next season.

“Iconic Las Vegas and Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsport, is the perfect marriage of speed and glamour,” said Greg Maffei, President and CEO of Liberty Media. “Our confidence in this unique opportunity is evident in our decision to assume the promoter role for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

“The potential of Formula 1 has been well demonstrated over the last several seasons and the Las Vegas GP will only take it to the next level.”

Speculation surrounding a third race in Las Vegas that utilized the world famous Strip has swirled for more than a year and was at last confirmed Wednesday night in a lavish announcement made at the rooftop pool of The Cosmopolitan Hotel. Liberty acquired F1 in 2017 and has steadily grown the brand in the U.S. through its marketing of the series and the wildly popular Netflix docuseries “Drive to Survive.”

The fourth season of “DTS” dropped earlier this month just ahead of F1′s season-opener in Bahrain, the first of back-to-back races held in the Middle East. F1 has been under scrutiny for some of those deals because of dubious human rights records in some of the host countries.

So it was a rocky return to Saudi Arabia for F1 last weekend when Yemen rebels attacked an oil depot during the first practice session on Friday. Smoke and flames could be seen in the backdrop of the racetrack as the oil depot was located only 11 kilometers (seven miles) from the racetrack.

Drivers met for more than four hours to determine if they were comfortable continuing with Sunday’s race, which ultimately went off incident-free.

Still, F1 has been accused of overlooking serious human rights violations while collecting hefty sanctioning fees from the host nations. But in the case of the Las Vegas race, it will be F1 and Liberty backing the event.

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F1 and Liberty are also partnering with Live Nation Entertainment and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on the race. The “founding partners” announced Wednesday night were Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Las Vegas.

MSG Sphere, Resorts World Las Vegas and The Venetian Resort were announced as presenting sponsors.

“This is an incredible moment for Formula 1 that demonstrates the huge appeal and growth of our sport with a third race in the U.S.,” said Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of F1. “Las Vegas is a destination known around the world for its excitement, hospitality, thrills, and of course, the famous Strip. There is no better place for Formula 1 to race than in the global entertainment capital of the world and we cannot wait to be here next year.”

No date was given for the November race, but the Saturday night after Thanksgiving has been discussed. The 50-lap race is expected to stretch a street course that runs 3.8-miles. The circuit revealed Wednesday night included three main straights, 14 corners that includes a high-speed cornering sequence, and a single chicane section.

COTA drew more than 300,000 spectators to its three-day weekend last October and track president Bobby Epstein said the addition of Las Vegas to the F1 calendar shouldn’t dilute his event.

“There’s plenty to sustain this sport. What I like about what F1 is doing and what I think the fans will realize, is that each event is very different from the other and will be very unique,” Epstein told The Associated Press.

“The other US races are going to be more about the city and the destination, and ours is going to be more about the event itself. I’m excited to go to Vegas, not just for F1, but because the city has so much more entertainment, outside and away from whatever the track will be. If I’m already a regular Vegas visitor, it will be more a question of am I choosing to go to F1 this year and not March Madness or a heavyweight fight?”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.