The four clear areas F1 must address after first Las Vegas Grand Prix

Elizabeth Blackstock
Max Verstappen drives past the Sphere at the Las Vegas Grand Prix

Las Vegas Grand Prix: Clear areas to improve

Formula 1’s inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix may have been an overall success, but if the sport aims to retain a consistent presence in the Sin City, there’s still plenty of work to be done.

Having attended the event, I was impressed by the smooth organization and surprisingly minor intrusions caused in the city, and even the most skeptical locals were willing to acknowledge that F1 had ultimately created a functional and enjoyable event.

With a decade-long contract in place, though, F1 must continue to refine the Grand Prix based on feedback from both longtime fans and local audiences.

Adjust the pricing

“If I was in a better financial situation, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy tickets for the race next year,” a Las Vegas local named Matt told me on the Monday after the race.

He had been invited to the race as a friend of a Vegas-based Mercedes dealership and agreed despite having no interest in motorsport.

Instead, he became a full-blown fan: “I don’t know what it was, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the cars. Plus, the overall experience was just so much easier than I thought it would be. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back if I could afford it.”

Prohibitive pricing was the biggest turn-off for many fans who hoped to attend the inaugural Las Vegas GP and will likely remain a talking point in the future; the high ticket costs meant many potential fans opted against attending the race until organizers dramatically slashed prices on unsold seats as the race approached.

Reducing the cost will make the race more accessible for fans, while offering multiple experiences and price points will help maintain the prestige of the event.

Rework the timetable

While Las Vegas is known for parties that last well into the wee hours of the morning, many Formula 1 fans I spoke to during the city’s Grand Prix found themselves exhausted by the late starts for qualifying and the race.

“I wanted to go out tonight, but I think I’m going right to bed,” a fan named Carla told me as we waited for an Uber after the Grand Prix. “I planned on getting dinner and going to the casino, [but I’ve been] sitting in the cold for four hours.”

Race weekends are notoriously exhausting, and fans at the track felt the strain as they tried to pack in as much as they could. To further grow the prestige of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, organizers might consider a slightly earlier start to the sessions, ones that make more sense for both the fans at the track and the American viewers at home.

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Race day logistics

Overall, I was impressed by the structure and function of the Las Vegas Grand Prix. The track was split into multiple different “zones” that each had their own entrances, as well as their own rideshare drop-off and pick-up areas.

This helped ease congestion at any single point at the track for the viewers who weren’t interested in walking back to their hotel.

However, there were a few sticking points. Grandstand ticket holders like myself were offered free food, water, and soda, but there were no separate lines for those of us looking to snag a free water; instead, we had to line up behind plenty of folks purchasing cocktails or beer.

What should have been a quick in-and-out took me over 30 minutes ahead of both qualifying and the race.

Further, my post-track action Uber drivers mentioned that they didn’t think Las Vegas changed the traffic light patterns for the weekend.

In my zone, only a certain number of vehicles were allowed into the rideshare zone at any one time; however, the traffic lights that allowed drivers to turn out of the rideshare lot were extremely slow, which led to a build-up of vehicles in the lot and, as a result, longer wait times for rideshares.

According to my post-race Uber driver, the traffic patterns were the most inconvenient element of the race.

Engage the community

One of the remaining flaws of the Las Vegas Grand Prix has been F1’s lack of engagement with the local community. As new F1 convert Matt told me, he was adamantly opposed to the Grand Prix — until he understood what it was about.

“I was expecting all this disruption and all these rude fans, because that’s all we heard about,” he said.

“We never really heard anything from F1; it was like [the series] didn’t care, and that left a nasty taste in our mouths. It if had just taken time to talk to us and answer our questions, we would have calmed down.”

Such was the sentiment I heard from casino workers, restaurant servers, and bartenders; without any information from F1 itself, everyone expected the worst.

For a far more successful 2024 event, F1 needs to consider better integrating itself into the community; locals may know better what to expect after this inaugural year, but so much pre-race conflict could have been avoided had the sport taken the time to help Las Vegas’ citizens understand just what this event entailed.

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