Formula One breaks new ground this weekend with the much-anticipated arrival of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
The third US race on the 2023 calendar will take place in the heart of the city, passing famous venues such as Caesars Palace and the Bellagio as the cars thunder their way down the Vegas Strip.
It is expected to be a high-speed circuit, reported to match those of F1’s ‘temple of speed’ at Monza.
That may play into the hands of world champion Max Verstappen, who marched on relentlessly with his 17th win of the season two weeks ago in Brazil having already sealed his third consecutive world title.
His Red Bull machine has dominated all season long and boasts exceptional straight-line speed, seemingly making it perfect for the new test in Vegas.
“It’s going to be very different to [Brazil]; very low temperatures, of course, in the night there,” Verstappen said.
“Street circuit. We have no experience there. We don’t know the track grip. All new, so maybe it will give you a few surprises. I don’t know.”
One major headache for the teams this weekend will be the temperatures.
While they often battle searing heat and sky-high temperatures on track, this weekend they will take on just the opposite.
While forecasts are higher than some feared, with the race starting at 10pm US time the air temperature is set to be at least 20 degrees lower than the heat of Qatar, Mexico and Brazil in the last three races.
Tyre management is a key factor in all races and an area where Red Bull have again had the edge all season over their rivals.
That edge may be negated somewhat with lower temperatures and could play into the hands of Ferrari.The Scuderia have often shown strong pace but been hard on their tyres.
Charles Leclerc displayed great pace in qualifying second in Brazil before suffering a steering malfunction on the formation lap as he crashed out and was unable to start the race.
“I’m focused on the last two races of the season now, we won’t give up and will fight to finish with the best constructors’ classification result we can achieve. I will give it everything in Las Vegas,” Leclerc said.
The Monegasque is 16/1 to claim his first win of the season in Vegas.
Fernando Alonso marked a dramatic return to form for Aston Martin with a stunning podium in Brazil.
The veteran Spaniard held off the charging Perez for a number of laps before overtaking the Mexican and winning a drag race to the line to clinch a majestic third place in Sao Paulo.
“This is a phenomenal result for the whole team,” Alonso said after Brazil.
“We’d been struggling a little in recent races – especially the last two events – so this podium is for everyone at the track and everyone back at Silverstone.
“It shows that we will always keep fighting until the very last lap, the last corner.”
At a track which could prove to be a leveller, experience could count for a lot.
Alonso is 4/1 to be on the podium again.
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