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Formula 1 Las Vegas GP

F1 team bosses call for change to "brutal" Las Vegas GP schedule

Formula 1 team bosses are united in calling for a change of schedule for next year’s Las Vegas GP after the late timing for the inaugural event proved punishing for team members.

Mechanics in the garage with the car of Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

The event timetable was later than any in the history of the sport, both to shift local road closures to later in the day and to accommodate TV viewers in Europe.

The FP2 and qualifying sessions were due to run from midnight to 1am on Friday and Saturday mornings respectively, although the latter actually finished 4am due to the remedial work on water valve covers. Saturday evening’s race started at 10pm.

The FP2 delay made life even tougher for team members who had to adjust to the time change from Europe at the end of an already gruelling season, with Vegas followed by a 12-hour time shift before next weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Next year the challenge will be even greater with Las Vegas the start of a triple header that leads into Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

Team bosses acknowledged that while overall the event was a success, the schedule had been too hard on personnel.

"If we have to improve, it’s perhaps the timing," said Ferrari’s Fred Vasseur when asked by Motorsport.com about what might enhance the event. "It's not an easy one to find, if you want to have a decent timing for Asia, Europe, East Coast, West Coast.

"In the past, we had no issue because F1 was just for the European people, and we had to stick to the European timing, and it was okay.

"Now it's a worldwide project, and it's much more difficult to find something fitting with the expectations of the 24-hour zone. But we will adjust it."

Red Bull’s Christian Horner made it clear how hard the schedule had been for team members.

"As a first off, of course, there are going to be many lessons to learn," he said. "One of the things to look at is the running schedule because it has been brutal for the team and all the men and women behind the scenes.

"Everybody is leaving Vegas slightly f***ed! One way or another it has been a brutal weekend for everyone behind the scenes, and I think we need to look at how we can improve that for the future." 

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Horner said that even a relatively small adjustment would make a difference.

"I think run it a little earlier in the evening because you are never going to keep every television audience totally happy," he said.

"This is an American race. If you run it 8pm in the evening or something like that it would just be a bit more comfortable for the men and women working behind the scenes." 

Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack suggested that the sport should take time to assess what would work.

"We should not shoot too quickly now, out of the emotion, out of the tiredness," he said. "I think it's important we step back.

"The sporting regulations are quite rigid in terms of timing, they calculate everything from the race, from different sessions. So you would need to change that. 

"But I think it's possible to incorporate what the race promotion needs, and what the workforce needs. It just needs a bit of work."

AlphaTauri CEO Peter Bayer, who has extra insight into street race logistics having previously worked for the FIA, said his team would back any changes.

"Certainly, we would support that," he told Motorsport.com. "I don't know all the background and why it has been done.

"But I have a bit of experience, coming from the FIA, and knowing how difficult it was for Formula E in many cities. Closing down the streets has a massive impact on the people living here.

"We'll have to review everything, and see how we can improve. I spoke to a couple of our guys, some of them actually quickly found the rhythm. I had a bad day on the second day, I thought I'm not going to make it! But then suddenly you're into it.

"Obviously, now we're going to fly to the other end of the world. And it will turn us upside down. But at the same time, it was worth it."

Additional reporting by Filip Cleeren

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