F1 Las Vegas 2023: A Quick Spin Round the Casino Capital

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F1 Las Vegas 2023: A Quick Spin Round the Casino Capital
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Here at PokerNews, we're super excited about the F1 circus rolling into Las Vegas - a city we know all too well.

Unfortunately, while competitive racing at the top of the grid is not anticipated - with three-time world champion Max Verstappen expected to record another facile victory - there is massive excitement about motorsports premier competition returning to Sin City after 41 years.

We've covered hundreds of events from the world's casino capital over the previous two decades, from annual WSOPs to last week's NAPT, and we're looking forward to being at plenty more in the future.

And, although we hate to toot our own horn, we kinda like to think this experience means we know a thing or two about the City of Lights.

With that in mind, we thought we'd take you on an insider's spin around the F1 Las Vegas Strip Circuit, pointing out some of the coolest landmarks to spot over the 3-day event - after all, you'll need some entertainment once Verstappen has lapped everybody else!

From the world-famous casinos to the mind-blowing MSG Sphere, here's a whistle-stop, turn-by-turn tour of the incredible 6.20km circuit that has transformed the iconic Vegas strip.

Take a first look at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit by riding onboard on the F1 23 Video Game!

Facts & Stats - The F1 Las Vegas Strip Circuit

Firstly, before we dive into the track layout in more depth, let's look at some of the counterclockwise circuit's broader facts & figures that the 20 drivers will contend with on Saturday race day.

  • Turns - 17
  • Estimated Top Speed - 340 km/h
  • Estimated Avg. Lap Times - 1:33:00
  • Number of Laps - 50
  • Circuit Length - 6.20km
  • Total Race Distance - 310.05km

It is important to note this is the inaugural running of the Las Vegas GP on the strip circuit. This means experts have had to predict certain speeds & times, albeit with what is expected to be alarming accuracy.

The F1 Las Vegas Strip Circuit - An Insider's Tour

Now we've established the basic facts & stats you need to know about one of the F1 calendar's quickest circuits, let us transport you to the start line on Saturday, November 18th, where you can take in the sights and sounds of Vegas from the cockpit of the fastest vehicles on earth...

Turns 1 & 2 - The Start/Finish Straight, Paddock

Big events mean big building projects, and it doesn't get more important than the purpose-built 300,000 sq ft paddock that will be at the heart of the action on race weekend.

Expected to cost in the region of 500M dollars, the four-story building that flanks the start/finish straight will house the 10 F1 teams, the pitlane & garage, and hospitality boxes for the star-studded VIPs who are sure to attend.

Following the race, the paddock complex is expected to be used as a convention center and for any future motorsport events.

Turns 3 & 4 - Rochelle Avenue, Koval Lane

Building up speed after the crucial first two corners, drivers will veer slightly left and then into a rapid right-hander as they cross the Rochelle Avenue Intersection onto Koval Lane.

This marks the moment the grid leaves the purpose-built racetrack and joins the recently re-tarmacked streets Vegas residents will be used to driving on every day.

Likely to be the first chance to build up a real head of steam, viewers should keep an eye on Koval Lane as it may prove to be one of the most crucial overtaking zones in the race, being one of the two DRS areas on the circuit.

Turns 5 & 6 - Caesar's Forum

Slamming the brakes hard at the end of the 800m long Koval Street, there's a potentially tricky right-hand turn onto Westchester Drive, which will be bathed in the glow of the luminous MSG Sphere.

Look out for Caesar's Forum on the left side of the road, one of the best luxury shopping destinations in Las Vegas, with around 160 designer stores & restaurants as well as a whopping 40,000 hotel rooms!

Turns 7 & 8 - The MSG Sphere

A long, sweeping left-hander will then bring the drivers to the new MSG Sphere complex.

Despite only opening in September 2023, the 18,600-capacity arena hardly needs any introduction with its astonishing 1.2 million, 16K LED-light exosphere.

While the drivers will have to resist a glance at the viral sensation, F1 fans watching on telly are sure to be dazzled by the unique designs the Sphere's tech wizards are bound to create for this showpiece event.

Turns 9 & 10 - The Venetian Resort

Transitioning out of the MSG Sphere complex, a bottleneck left-hander will see drivers accelerate onto Sands Avenue with the elevated Las Vegas Monorail looming over them on the right-hand side.

The cars will bolt along this section of road at over 300 km/h as they pass one of the most iconic casinos in Vegas, The Venetian Resort, on the left of their cockpit.

One of Sin City's most famous nightlife spots, F1 fans can take a break from the racing with the hundreds of blackjack, baccarat & poker rooms at the 5* hotel & casino.

Turn 11 & 12 - Wynn Hotel, Treasure Island, The Mirage, Harrah's

Turning onto perhaps the most famous street in the world, the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip await after a fiddly left-hand turn past the Wynn Hotel.

The iconic casinos will be coming thick and fast now, but with their speed building, drivers will have little time to pick out Treasure Island, The Mirage & Harrah's.

Try and give them a spot if you're watching on telly, although you won't have long with this being one of the fastest parts of the circuit.

Turn 13 - Flamingo, Caesar's Palace, Paris

The second section of a 1.9km, flat-out straight, the exit from turn 13 sees drivers feed onto the Strip Circuit's other DRS zone in a heart-thumping, adrenaline-pumping dash down Las Vegas Boulevard.

World-famous landmarks like Flamingo and Caesar's Palace will soon merge into Paris Las Vegas (famous for its slots) and a totem of Las Vegas - the Fountains of Bellagio.

Don't worry if you don't take all these sights in on the first few laps; luckily, there are 50 laps on race day and many more in Practice and Qualifying!

Did you know? The two previous F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix were held in 1981 & 1982, with the track in Caesar's Palace car park!

Turns 14, 15 & 16 - The Cosmopolitan, Planet Hollywood, CityCenter

Turning off the Strip and onto one of the more technical sections of the track, drivers will have to negotiate a series of tight, slow corners before they can start thinking about completing their laps.

Forming a concrete canyon with the towering Cosmopolitan and Planet Hollywood on either side of the road, the sharp chicane will test the driver's ability before they accelerate into Harmon Avenue and toward the start-finish straight.

Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled for CityCenter in the same locality, the staggering $8.5 billion urban complex that is the most expensive privately-funded construction project in US history.

Turn 17 - The Chequered Flag

One final sprint up Harmon Avenue and an express left-hander past the panoramic Top Golf driving range, and drivers will find themselves where they started approximately 90 seconds ago.

The aim? Do it forty-nine more times and do it faster than anyone else, and you'll find yourself the winner of the first Las Vegas Grand Prix in over 40 years!

Whew, I'm knackered!Anyone for champagne?

Lead Image - Julian Paefgen via Unsplash
Track Layout - JJ Valentin via Wikimedia