Former Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok has praised Las Vegas Grand Prix organisers for the job they have done producing the circuit and getting it ready “well in time” for the race.
Preparations have been long underway for F1’s return to Las Vegas after four decades, though there is a huge amount of fanfare for the sport’s arrival in Nevada this weekend.
With temperatures set to drop to single figures, however, Chandhok predicted there could be “real jeopardy” for the drivers as they brake from huge top speeds with cold tyres and brakes over the weekend.
Karun Chandhok offers first Las Vegas impressions following track walk
There had been concerns heading into the weekend about the levels of grip the drivers would have in Vegas, given the cold overnight temperatures in which they will be racing.
Having seen the new surface for himself, former Lotus and HRT driver Chandhok believes the sport has done well with the track, as well as getting it ready in good enough time for the weekend.
“I have to say, they’ve done a really good job,” Chandhok said in a video he posted on X [formerly Twitter].
“The tarmac looks really good, pretty high grip I think as well.
“Given the temperatures, I was a bit worried about the grip level, but I think the tarmac could be quite grippy actually.
“It’s been amazing to walk around the track and see that it’s all done well in time, no last-minute panics, so very impressive and I’m looking forward to seeing cars on track.”
Talking about the subject further, the Sky Sports pundit believes there could be potential for red flags over the course of the weekend as the drivers get to grips with navigating the tight confines of the walls around Las Vegas.
Alongside that, the temperature drop-off they will experience on the long straights into hard braking zones in cold temperatures will prove to be a “very tricky” challenge for the drivers.
With that and the unknowns thrown up by heading to an unused track, he believes there are a lot of different variables in play this weekend.
“I think coming to a new track is always exciting,” Chandhok expanded on the Sky Sports F1 podcast prior to his track walk.
“There are always unknowns, we don’t know for example, what the track surface is going to be like, what the kerbs are going to be like, but around here, I think is there’s an extra real curveball for everybody, which is the temperature.
“In the daytime, it’s like any desert, I suppose, at this latitude, it’s going to be 20-odd degrees in the daytime and it’s going to be seven, eight degrees at night – and that will have a huge effect.
“Because they’ve got big, long straights around this track as well, there are parts where you’re going to get top speeds just shy of Monza.
“There’s a section which is about 1.9 kilometres, which is taken at full throttle, so going to be over 200 miles per hour, 350 kilometres an hour, and there’s a lot of cold air going on to the brakes.
“The tyre temperatures, so let’s take Baku as a comparison, right? You know, they’ve got that long section from Turn 16 up the start/finish line. On that straight, the temperatures drop about 30 degrees.
“Bearing in mind it’s going to be 30 degrees colder here, that drop in temperature is going to be massive.
“When the drivers get to the end of that straight and hit the brakes, you have cold brakes, cold tyres, that’s going to be really challenging.
“So I think, try to get the lap right in qualifying and get the braking zones [right], as a driver, with a the new circuit, that’s the first challenge is to try and work out with the track evolution, you have to try and guesstimate and use your judgment.
“Of course, it’s skill, but it’s actually about judgment, trying to pick where you need to brake.
“And when you’ve got the unpredictability of not knowing what’s underneath your left foot in terms of the temperature and the feel from the brakes and tyres, that’s going to be very tricky.
“So I can see a few red flags coming up in quali and in the race, I think.
“When we’ve got a new track with so many variables in terms of the conditions and the red flags and things like that, we could get some real jeopardy.”