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Mika’s Memories

I live in Monte Carlo where the racing around the streets has been going on for almost 100 years, and the Casino was one of the main reasons the Monaco Grand Prix ever happened. 

Las Vegas is a very different place but the background to this race is the casinos, hotels and entertainment industry has decided to partner with F1 and produce something really interesting.  I have looked at the track and think it could be incredible.  It certainly looks fantastic, and with 6.8kms and 17 corners it’s layout is an interesting combination of high speed straights and low speed corners which will give the engineers plenty to consider in terms of optimising car set up.

Going to a new track is always a big challenge.  No one has any data from previous events, so it’s all down to the quality and accuracy of the simulations, and that varies team to team.  Even if drivers have been able to practice in the simulator, driving on the actual track is always interesting, you soon work out the best racing line and see where the opportunities are.

Somehow Formula 1 convinced the city to allow the circuit to include Las Vegas Boulevard, the famous Strip, where the cars will be doing 340kph and there are overtaking opportunities.  The purpose-build start-finish section, with the new F1 race headquarters and pit complex, is a really interesting innovation on a street circuit, and after the blast down Koval the section around the incredible Sphere.  Personally I think it’s going to be quite a spectacle late on Saturday evening.

Championship Form

Will Max take an 18th win?  Sure, he can definitely do it, he’s driving brilliantly, the car’s incredible and the team working well.  But new tracks can bring surprises and, typically for a street circuit, any mistakes will be punished.  There are barriers waiting for everyone, Max included.

After a really poor weekend in Brazil, Mercedes believe they can avoid the same mistakes in Las Vegas.  Lewis Hamilton has homes in the USA and loves spending time there, so expect a strong recovery from him this weekend in front of his big fan base.  A win is possibly a step too far, but never say never when it comes to Lewis, while team mate George Russell wants a big result too.

Ferrari is only 20 points behind Mercedes in the battle for 2nd place in the Constructors’ Championship, so there is still a good reason for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to go for it  If Mercedes does happen to have another poor weekend this could present a huge opportunity for Ferrari, the only question is whether they can combine speed and consistency with both cars to score a lot of points.

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have starred in the second half of the season and I am personally very happy to see McLaren so competitive again.  We have seen some great drives from both men and, if the team can get the car operating well on this smooth but cold street track, anything is possible.  Of all the teams, McLaren has made the most progress this year.

Fernando Alonso drove brilliantly in Brazil to score a really memorable podium, and he celebrated as though he was still 20 years old!  Fantastic to see and I think that means Aston Martin will come to Las Vegas with extra momentum.  Another podium?  Fernando is always happy to roll the dice and go for it.  Las Vegas loves a gambler, and this weekend will favour the brave.

Mika’s Tip

On a brand new street circuit with very low temperatures at night time I expect some surprises, just like sometimes happens in the Las Vegas casinos.  It could be a lottery, because it will only take one team to get it right, another to find the car not working so well in the temperature range, and we’ll see something different on Saturday night.  Everyone’s expecting Max to dominate again, so let me go for something a little different.  A win for the papaya orange McLarens, or the three-pointed star at Mercedes?  I wouldn’t bet against it.

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