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Postcard from the Las Vegas Grand Prix

7 months ago

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Writer:

Edd Straw | Motorsport journalist

Date:

20 November 2023

A quickie wedding chapel manned by Elvis impersonators in the paddock, a star-studded opening ceremony, celebrities jammed shoulder to shoulder on the pre-race grid, a shambolic first day on which paying spectators only witnessed eight minutes and 35 seconds of track action before being exiled from the grandstands and a proudly unapologetic Formula 1 that was dripping in self-regard for having pulled off this unlikely race.

The Las Vegas Grand Prix leaned into every trope and fulfilled the naysayers’ worst expectations in equal measure. Until, that is, it produced what proved to be a dramatic race.

On the ground, it was a curious experience. In some ways, it settled into a common-or-garden F1 weekend after the water-valve cover disaster in FP1 that did a seven-figure sum’s worth of damage to Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and Esteban Ocon’s Alpine. But in others, it was utterly bizarre given the weird timings, with the second free practice session finishing a couple of hours before sunrise and the curious clash of cultures between the controlled, methodical F1 world and the madcap commercialism of Vegas. That was most striking when making the short journey from the media centre into the paddock with 10 laps of the race remaining to hear from the drivers, only to walk past half a dozen more Elvises charging in the other direction.

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