Why Red Bull and Verstappen may not win the Las Vegas Grand Prix

Published on 10 November 2023 at 16:34

Formula 1 will make its debut in Las Vegas for the penultimate round of the 2023 World Championship. With the sport not heading there before and it being a street circuit, there are many unknowns that lie ahead.


The 2023 season has consisted of pure dominance from Max Verstappen and Red Bull - with no team getting close to the Austrian team and no driver getting close to the Dutchman.


Verstappen has broke many records this season. The 2023 World Champion broke Sebastian Vettel's record of nine consecutive race victories, winning 10 in a row. The 26-year-old also beat Alberto Ascari's record in 1953 for the highest win percentage in a season - the Italian had 75%.


To put it into perspective, Verstappen's dominance has been enough for him to win the constructors' championship for Red Bull on his own - Red Bull would still have higher points in the constructors' championship without Sergio Perez's contribution.


The reason for Verstappen potentially not winning


Verstappen has won 17 of the 20 races so far this season with two rounds to go. Red Bull have only not won one of the 20 races this season. Which race could that have been?


It was in fact Singapore. The Austrian team had a torrid time at the Marina Bay Circuit, suffering a double Q2 exit in qualifying and finishing way off the podium positions.


The Singapore Grand Prix was won by Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz. However, there was three teams that were fighting for the victory. Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes had the pace to win the race. However, Red Bull were nowhere near the trio.


The constructors' champions struggled finding the right set-up for their RB19 car. Because of this, the car was constantly oversteering, ruining the tyres on such a technical circuit.


The Marina Bay Circuit is a street circuit. It is known for its bumpy surface with it not being smooth asphalt - as seen on traditional circuits, such as Silverstone and Spa Francorchamps.


With Formula 1 heading to another street track in Las Vegas, Red Bull may have a difficult time finding the right set-up again, leading to them potentially having challengers for the race win.


McLaren have been Red Bull's closest challengers in recent races, especially Lando Norris for Verstappen. Norris made the Dutchman go defensive during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix last weekend, showing the improvement in pace from the MCL60 car.


Heading into an unknown


As mentioned before, the sport has never had their cars race round this track before. Teams do not have any data to go off, meaning the practice sessions will be very important.


However, the forecast - a week before - suggests that rain could very much be present during the free practice sessions. This could mean that there would only be one dry practice session on Saturday - right before qualifying on the same day.


Therefore, drivers may not have the right set-up for qualifying, making it increasingly difficult. Additionally, the street tracks at Las Vegas has narrow walls, meaning that there is no room for error.


Another factor making it harder for drivers is how cold it will be during the race weekend. Temperatures are expected to be in the single digits, meaning that tyre will be colder, which could lose to a loss of grip and more errors.


Tyres are warmed up by tyre blankets to be 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius). However, drivers may be required to do more preparation laps to get the optimum grip for their push laps.


Therefore, it is vital for teams to get as much data as possible during the weekend before qualifying and the race, as it could be crucial for their weekends.


Nathan Hartley

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