The last time Formula 1 raced in Las Vegas, it did so by running around the parking lot of Caesars Palace back in 1982. Sure, it wasn’t the most glamorous track but it seemed like Vegas might be a good venue for an F1 race. It didn’t last long but it now seems it could return if race organizers sign the contract before them.
According to Forbes, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has proffered a contract and is waiting on race organizers to sign it. Track designer, Hermann, Tilke, has visited Vegas a few times already to help with the circuit layout and it is supposed to use part of the Las Vegas Strip as the track.
A Vegas race would add to an already packed calendar bringing the race total to 22 grands prix but Ecclestone said:
“If Vegas comes along we will have to think about it. Do we want 22 races or should we get rid of one? We will see,”
There’s also a chance that the Italian Grand Prix could vanish from the 2017 calendar as a contract has not been renewed and Ecclestone said:
“Monza have got a contract for this year so it is going to go ahead absolutely. It’s the future we don’t know about. Next year is the question mark. If it doesn’t happen we will have 20 races,”
“I don’t think we have to have Monza or an Italian Grand Prix. Somebody once told me a funny thing that you couldn’t have Formula One without a race in France. But we do.”
There is also the issue of the British Grand Prix and reports that current owners, the BRDC, are in talks about selling a 249-year lease on Silverstone to Jaguar-Land Rover. The concept here is to generate the capital needed to secure the future of the British Grand Prix. The group has already sold a lease on 280 acres of land around the track to property group MEPC for $44.7 million and Ecclestone reckons the assets are running out:
“If they are waiting for the money to prop their race up by selling whatever they sell, eventually they won’t have anything to sell. They think we couldn’t walk away from the British Grand Prix. That’s what they think.”
We often times think that there are circuits that could not be absent from the F1 calendar but history doesn’t prove that. Kyalami, Zandvoort, Watkins Glen, Spa Francorchamps (for one year), Magny Cours, Nurburgring, and many others that were considered staples on the F1 calendar are no longer there.
The question I might have is that if Vegas was to come on board, they’ll have to be particularly clever about when they schedule that race. It’s a desert and in the summer it gets rather warm there. Really warm in fact. It will also be interesting to see what impact that may have on attendance in Austin at COTA as west coast folks might attend Vegas instead.
It seems street circuits are now the low-hanging fruit on the F1 race tree. I’m not sure how many more races F1 needs that are street circuits and not purpose-built racing circuits. Then again, how many folks have $400 million to build one or $200 million to spruce one up?
Hat Tip: Forbes