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Norris assessing whether hand warmers are needed for new Las Vegas F1 race

Lando Norris says his initial preparations for Formula 1’s new Las Vegas race have included assessing whether drivers will require hand warmers to perform best in the expected cold conditions.

Lando Norris, McLaren

Lando Norris, McLaren

Motorsport Images

As the Vegas race will take place on 18 November and with a start time of 10pm after qualifying gets under way at midnight, temperatures have been predicted to possibly drop as low as four degrees Celsius.

This has caused a different challenge for the preparations of teams used to racing in a championship that typically and famously races in hot climates.

There has already been plenty of speculation into how the low temperatures will impact car performance in Vegas – particularly tyre warm-up and how the cold could also be a factor into how the tyres interact with a new track surface, which is expected to contain significant slippery surface oils.

When asked by Autosport what preparations he has completed so far ahead of the Vegas race, Norris quipped he was “learning how to play poker, things like that” as well as outlining his thoughts on the possible problem for drivers quickly losing sensation in their hands while driving at rapid speeds in close to freezing conditions.

“There's a lot more you do than normal,” the McLaren driver explained.

“I've already done my simulator work for Vegas. The temperature is one to prepare for, both in terms of a driver's hands [and usual car set-up and driving preparation].

“You know, you need your hands to work well when you're driving, so being on top of all of that is something we're already looking into.

“Just simple things sometimes, with hand warmers and gloves and whatever.”

Work in progress at the Las Vegas F1 course

Photo by: Jim Utter

Work in progress at the Las Vegas F1 course

Also speaking in the Austin paddock ahead of the United States Grand Prix this weekend, Haas racer Nico Hulkenberg recalled how low temperatures at previous F1 winter tests have also caused this issue for drivers.

“After like a few laps your hands, your fingers, get so cold it’s kind of stuck in that position and you kind of lose feeling,” said Hulkenberg.

“I haven’t thought about [how to address that for Vegas].”

Hulkenberg also said his experience of testing at the Barcelona circuit in the European winter could be “bitter – I remember fingers freezing”, which meant drivers “couldn’t open the fingers” after a short time behind the wheel.

On the problem of tyre warm-up in low temperatures, Hulkenberg said it meant Vegas was therefore likely to be “challenging in a different way” for the drivers used to keeping the fragile Pirelli tyres in narrow premium operating temperatures and not getting too hot and therefore creating added car sliding.

He added: “I guess you have to, instead of keeping the tyre cold, do something to switch it on. Usually I’m pretty good at that.”

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz reckons based on his 50-60 laps of simulator running using the track that the new, fast and straight-heavy layout could actually add to the tyre temperature issue.

“[There are] very long straights,” said Sainz. “So, a tyre will cool down on those straights.

“Then getting into a corner on a very low downforce setting, like we’re expecting in Vegas, on a cold tyre, on a new surface, I think there could be many variables for tyres and temperatures in general to be a big talking point that weekend.

“And graining, if it's very cold, like we've seen in winter testing. Not in Bahrain [where F1 now typically holds its pre-season running], but in other venues.

“So yeah, I think those are the things we will be keeping an eye on, but until we get there – you can be as prepared as you want – but until you see what happens on the car, you cannot react.”

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