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Alonso: No two laps of Vegas F1 weekend will be the same

Fernando Alonso reckons Formula 1 drivers “will not have two laps the same” over the 2023 Las Vegas weekend due to a major track evolution factor on the new surface. 

Atmosphere Las Vegas boulevard

Photo by: Erik Junius

F1’s return to Vegas will take place on an all-new course that incorporates the city’s famous Strip boulevard – with the public roads being used having been resurfaced ahead of the event. 

Fresh asphalt laid at new races in recent years has tended to be very slippery for the cars, even with Pirelli bringing its softest tyres, as is the case for the Vegas weekend. 

When asked by Autosport to outline any particular areas of the 3.86-mile track where drivers could gain or lose time on what is a straight-heavy layout, Alonso instead highlighted the track evolution aspect as the area that could catch some competitors out. 

He feels this could especially be the case due to the weekend lacking support races that would normally lay down additional rubber and therefore increase grip levels for the F1 machines. 

“A street circuit, very low downforce – just getting that confidence into the car [will be important],” said Alonso. “The braking areas, I think that will be very important.  

“With the conditions of the track and not having any support races, I think the amount of track evolution during the weekend is going to be bigger than normal.  

“So, that will challenge everyone. I guess we will not have two laps the same over the weekend. 

“Every lap of the track will be a little bit better than the lap before – from FP1 to the last lap of the race.  

“We will have to adapt to that changeable grip. It’s going to be a challenge for everyone.” 

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team

Speaking alongside Alonso in the pre-event press conference, Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz suggested one section of the new track that could catch out drivers would be the “very long combined braking [of] Turns 6-7”. 

He added: “That in the simulator was actually quite tricky to get right with the braking.  

“Apart from that, obviously it’s gonna be about the long straights, the big braking zones, being confident, getting close to the walls also on the exit of the corners.  

“Looks like just getting confidence with a low-downforce car on such long straights with quite big braking is going to be the key.” 

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Ahead of the event, there had been much speculation on whether potentially close to freezing temperatures could cause havoc with car and tyre performance.  

This has since been scotched by the forecast for the weekend having conditions at 9-10°C during the night periods where the qualifying and race sessions will take place. 

But those are still temperatures reminiscent of the 2020 Eifel GP at the Nurburgring, where the impact of the cold conditions was negated by that track’s many turns. 

Although he was at pains to point out the F1 teams currently lack the data to be sure, Alonso therefore reckons squads that have struggled with too much tyre degradation in races due to their tyres overheating thanks to their aerodynamic designs could do well. 

This would be thanks to their drivers being able to maintain the critical tyre temperature operating windows and with the Vegas track’s layout allowing the rubber to cool – potentially making things harder for cars that face tyre warm-up issues. 

“It could be that with these long straights, the tyres lose a little bit of temperature,” said Alonso. 

“We’ve been facing a little bit of tyre overheating on the last three events [in Texas, Mexico and Brazil] and maybe here it’s a little bit the opposite. 

“So maybe some cars that are struggling on long-run pace, here they are good because they can keep the tyres in the window and things like that.  

“Tomorrow, we will have some answers.” 

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