Mercedes reveal huge logistical challenges facing teams at Las Vegas Grand Prix

Jamie Woodhouse
The Las Vegas Grand Prix logo

Teams are facing major challenges surrounding the Las Vegas GP.

Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows detailed how the Las Vegas Grand Prix, a ‘walking’ race, will serve as a major challenge logistically with Abu Dhabi following in a double-header.

Formula 1 is now approaching the closing stages of the 2023 campaign, with the hotly-anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix to kick-off a double header which will see the season then conclude in Abu Dhabi.

There is plenty of work though to put into those final two rounds, stretching far beyond the on-track action.

Walks from hotel and one of longest flight facing teams

Meadows explained that Las Vegas is a ‘walking’ race, meaning team personnel cannot drive into the paddock for duty and instead must walk from their hotels, which can take up to half an hour.

And when all is said and done, then there is the not-so-small matter of the extensive pack-up, plus one of the longest flights on the calendar to get ready for action in Abu Dhabi.

“The Las Vegas race was deemed a ‘walking’ race,” said Meadows. “Often you would drive in with transfers, park up in the paddock and then go to your garage. For this race, you must walk from the hotel which generally can take 25 to 30 minutes.

“As far as the logistics go, the biggest challenge for all the F1 teams is packing up overnight Saturday to Sunday and then getting to Abu Dhabi, which is one of the longest flights of the year.

“I don’t believe Vegas is going to be more challenging for the race team. I think it’s going to be a big challenge for our marketing department, because there are lots of things going on.

“As far as the bright lights and the 24-hour city, we are used to that having been to Monaco many of times and lots of the other races that are getting very busy and very popular.”

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Indeed, Mercedes’ marketing operations director Victoria Johnson described Las Vegas as the “biggest programme” the Mercedes marketing team has even run, one which is a year in the making.

“The Las Vegas race is a really big deal for everybody involved in Formula 1,” she said.

“The Las Vegas race is a huge operation for the marketing team. It’s the biggest programme we’ve ever run and logistically challenging because it is down the Las Vegas Strip. We’ve got 3,500 guests to entertain across the weekend with a production and delivery team of 200 people.

“In terms of planning, it takes about a year to plan and deliver a race such as Miami and Vegas. The Las Vegas and Miami races have given us new marketing opportunities and new audiences to tap into. The team have put a huge investment into both of those races.

“We have a lot of US based suppliers now that are trusted and have proved that they have high delivery standards. We will be using those in Las Vegas. We’ve also created a US hub so that we can keep all our equipment in the US, reducing freight down and achieving economies of scale.

“The Las Vegas race has a huge interest from media and fans. For the new US races we’ve decided to create a club concept. This is a hospitality area separated from the Formula 1 paddock which allows Mercedes F1 to control it, curate it and completely manage it entirely as a separate entity. The club concept has nothing to do with the team brand or Formula 1 as a brand.

“We take the theme of the destination that we are in, and it is all about music and entertainment and bringing the production to life. The décor of our hospitality suite will be very lavish in true Las Vegas style with high production, very much like a Las Vegas show.”

Mercedes pick out temperatures as the main on-track challenge

Meadows confirmed that the team is expecting “very unusual” temperatures for the Las Vegas GP, with conditions of four/five degrees Celsius anticipated overnight. All sessions are to take place under the lights.

“The biggest difference with Vegas will be the temperature,” he said.

“It is due to go down to four or five degrees Celsius overnight, which is very unusual for an F1 race. Normally, they are very hot.

“Everyone expects Vegas to be 35 degrees, but we think it’s going to be 15 to 18 degrees during the day, and overnight very cold. All the sessions are going to be run in the evening.”

With this in mind, Mercedes’ head of trackside performance Riccardo Musconi says getting the Pirelli tyres in their operating window will prove to be a major challenge, Mercedes coming into this race weekend off the back of tyre wear issues which severely hampered their Brazilian Grand Prix.

“Vegas is going to be quite a high-speed track, so the wing level is going to be something akin to Spa or Monza,” Musconi began.

“The first key factor in Vegas is going to be the cold temperatures and getting the tyres to work. This problem has got two factors.

“We are expecting temperatures to be in the single digits at this time of the year due to the fact we are going to be racing at night. The second thing is the surface it is going to be brand-new, and we don’t know exactly at this point in time what the aggregated type will be. Nobody will know until we turn up in Vegas and start driving around. I think this will be the key element of the weekend.

“There are learnings from any time we’ve been to a new venue. Usually, it’s all about the surface, the type of tarmac, and see what the grip level is going to be like. We try, if it is possible, to plan ahead and not creating false expectations by running on the track at a different time to our competitors.”

Mercedes go into the Las Vegas GP, the penultimate round of F1 2023, P2 in the Constructors’ Championship with a 20-point advantage over Ferrari.

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