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Formula 1 Las Vegas GP

A lap of Las Vegas

F1’s drivers have had very little track time to learn how their cars handle on the new Las Vegas circuit ahead of Saturday night’s race – but the route around the barrier-lined streets is already very well defined.

F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix branding on the Sphere

At new venues, the teams with the most advanced simulators often get the job done best – and Red Bull often come out on top. Max Verstappen has dominated this season, and the odds of another win for the Red Bull driver are 1/4 while conversely the odds of him failing to be a classified finisher are 6/1.

Verstappen is 1/2 to take pole and victory – Landon Norris is 22/1 and Lewis Hamilton 50/1 – and if the fastest lap is added into that, the odds go to 8/5 for Verstappen, with Norris and Charles Leclerc next up at an astonishing 150/1 and Hamilton down at 400/1.

At 6.201km, it is a long lap, second only to the 7.004km of Spa-Francorchamps and just a nudge longer than the 6.175km Jeddah Circuit in Saudi Arabia. The engines will be at full throttle for around 85% of the lap, which could cause problems. The odds of less than 14.5 finishers is 7/1, while the odds of all cars getting to the end is 8/1.

It is fast and frantic and the fastest lap could top the highest average speed of all, which is currently held by Monza in Italy. The odds of that fastest lap being set by Verstappen’s Red Bull are 8/13, while the Ferrari pair, Norris and Hamilton are all at 9/1.

The track all starts with the final corner, which is a relatively gentle curve taken at high speed. Drivers will need to turn in gently and late as they accelerate to gain as much speed as possible for the start of the lap.

Motorsport Stats graphic of the Downtown Las Vegas Street Circuit.

Motorsport Stats graphic of the Downtown Las Vegas Street Circuit.

Turns 1 and 2 come quickly after the start-finish line and effectively combine to create a continuing 180-degree left turn that starts sharp and opens up on exit. To get the best line through the corner, drivers will want to move to the far right - some may even look to put two wheels over the kerb and use the tarmac beyond it – and they will need to brake around the 100m mark to scrub off enough speed to make it round.

This double turn flows into Turns 3 and 4, which switch right and feed cars onto Koval Lane. The drivers will be accelerating up to around fifth gear and may have to lift slightly to get the car placed to the far left for entry. Get it right and they can then flow through the apex to end up tight on the outside wall with plenty of momentum as they head onto the 1km-long straight. Get a good exit here and it should see overtaking moves, perhaps even allowing drivers to clear the car in front before the next corner.

At the end of the straight, Turn 5 is a very tight 90-degree right-hander. Drivers will need to brake heavily at around the 100m mark, or a little earlier if they are less brave, and turn-in is late, after the 50m board, because the entry is tight and the exit points the cars towards a very firm looking barrier. This is likely to be a second or third gear corner and the kerbs on the inside are to be avoided to reduce the risk of bumping out and hitting the wall.

The tight track here could lead to plenty of incident and the chances of a safety car during the 50 laps are high. Odds of that are 1/4, while the odds of a virtual safety car are 4/9 and the odds of both are 8/13. If things get really clogged, the race could be stopped entirely and the odds of a red flag are 7/4.

Next up is Turn 6, one of the hardest on the track. Curving around the Sphere, this open and flowing 90-degree bend will see drivers climb up through the gears and drift out wide ready to turn into a slow left-right-left chicane made up of Turns 7, 8 and 9. This is likely to be taken in second or third gear and it will be crucial to move all the way to the right to get an early turn-in for the 90-degree left-hand Turn 9, as there is another very tight exit and the barriers get very close. Expect a few drivers to clip them on the exit, particularly when their tyres are not yet warmed up.

This is where the first sector ends, making it the most complex of the three, with nine of the circuit’s 17 corners completed by the time the cars start onto sector two. That begins with the fast and flowing right then left Turns 10 and 11, which take drivers rapidly into Turn 12, a hard left-hand 90-degree corner that leads onto the 2km-long Las Vegas Boulevard (better known as The Strip).

Drivers will need to straighten out of Turn 11, brake at around 100m and turn in late to optimise their exit. This is possibly the most important part of the track to get right, as carrying just a couple more km/h onto the straight could gain up to half a second in lap time. The cars are now on F1’s longest straight, which curves slightly as it passes through Turn 13 but is basically flat-out for around 20 seconds. The 12-15 metre track width gives plenty of space to move, so there should be lots of slipstreaming and place swapping as the cars barrel down past all the big casinos.

General view

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

General view

The long run comes to an end with a tight three-corner wiggle that is guaranteed to test braking confidence. Expect a few trips down the run-off area as drivers push how late they can go, with the starting point expected to be around 125m. That distance will change depending on grip levels, with more potential good overtaking opportunities for those with fresher, warmer tyres that reduce the risk of locking up.

To get a good flow through Turns 14, 15 and 16, drivers will aim to move to the right side of the track as they reach the end of the straight and drop down to third or fourth gear. Turn-in is late again, almost on the apex, and just like the corner heading onto the straight, there is a kerb on the inside with potential for cutting. Drivers are likely to explore the line here, but must be careful as it could be bumpy.

Time can be gained through Turns 15 and 16 by looking to pinch every inch, stepping over the kerbs to keep momentum as they head onto the straight run to Turn 17, the final corner. It is here where drivers will dive left to head into the pits during the race, with the entry point sitting directly on the apex of the corner. Those who are continuing on another lap will stay on the other side to get a get a good flow onto the main straight and line up for the finishing line as neatly as possible.

KEEP TRACK OF THE ACTION

To keep track of the action, wherever you are, the F1 Live Tracker from bet365 – is a good place to go – covering all the information you could possibly need, from all the practice sessions, through qualifying, sprints and the race itself.

It allows users to track each driver’s position from the starting grid to the finish, live throughout the race, with current leader board information, the latest fastest lap, current lap times, number of pitstops by driver, current tyre settings and driver gaps.

To make it simple to catch-up, a timeline details all the important race updates – including all the key overtakes and incidents – and it also allows two drivers to be compared head-to-head within the race, highlighting them on the tracker.

On top of that, all the safety car updates, red flags and yellow flags are covered, while track information such as temperatures, humidity and chance of rain makes it possible to keep tabs on potential changes and challenges and more easily predict what could happen.

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