Insiders weigh in after Formula 1′s Las Vegas site plans revealed

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 2:02 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Formula 1 officials revealed their plans for Las Vegas’ state-of-the-art paddock and hospitality facility, complete with 360-degree views from glass windows and a massive rooftop LED sign displaying the F1 logo.

The plans were submitted in November by F1 officials to Clark County’s Zoning Commission, as the countdown begins to the highly-anticipated race on the Las Vegas Strip on November 16 to 18, 2023.

In the spring, Formula 1 announced the $240 million purchase of the plot of land off Koval Lane and Harmon Avenue. Work has already begun on the site of the future paddock, which Clark County officials said would hold a future “F1 Experience” for fans year-round.

The four-story, 300,000 square foot building will give visitors a prime view of the start and finish line of the race. The paddock will have 13 garages for the traditional lineup of 10 teams. The multiple stories above the paddock will offer space for sponsors, hospitality suites and other VIP experiences.

The F1 logo on top of the building, according to a spokesperson that addressed the Clark County Zoning Commission, would boast LED displays; a blimp could fly overhead for captivating visuals during the 2023 race and other special events.

A spokesperson said F1 officials met with nearby residents of the Marie Antoinette condos to assure them that the lights would not shine into their residences.

Emily Prazer, chief commercial officer for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, released the following statement:

“We are officially one year away from the inaugural race. There are a lot of moving parts and things to get done in the next year, but our team is working hard to prepare for the race and cement the Las Vegas Grand Prix as the standout event on the sport’s global calendar in 2023. We will slowly reveal various aspects of the event over the coming months including the Paddock building, hospitality spaces, entertainment and more – in true Las Vegas fashion, it will take F1® race weekend to the next level.”

Race insiders weigh in on the significance of the building’s architectural details, size and location.

“That’s where Formula One makes a lot of its money: in the paddock club. Vegas being a place where I think they envisage a lot of corporate hospitality going on-- a lot of wining and dining-- they want to maximize that as much as possible. Having the extra layer is a sign of how successful they think they will be commercially on that front,” said Chris Medland, a F1 journalist for Motor Sport and Racer Magazine. Medland, who had most recently covered the Abu Dhabi races, noted that the extra garages were used for DJ and party suites for a ground-level view of the race.

“Having the logo on the top of a building; I don’t think there’s actually been done before to that scale anyway. But in certain places, F1 likes to get its branding: it just doesn’t normally get to take over a whole paddock building. The difference with Las Vegas is that Formula One itself is promoting that race. It’s financially invested, compared to most other venues,” Medland said.

According to Luke Smith, journalist for Auto Sport, teams and fans are buzzing with the atypical chance to race down the Las Vegas Strip.

“There’s a real excitement about going to one of the world’s most iconic cities, a city that’s very heavily focused on entertainment and sports. It’s not maybe your traditional city for Formula One; you think of these permanent racetracks that are a long way out of any major cities, and it’s sort of in rolling hills. It is going to be something very, very groundbreaking for F1 literally racing along the strip in Vegas,” Smith said.

Formula 1 has expanded fan and tourism opportunities at various race sites, and Smith explains that a year-round racing buzz is part of their overall development strategy.

“I think it’s a very different model for Formula 1 moving forward: it wants to be seen as this very cutting edge, not only sporting brand, but also entertainment brand, and appeal to fans in the biggest cities in the world,” he said.

What do drivers think of the Las Vegas Grand Prix? According to Medland, the location and the Saturday night event hold the most appeal.

“One of the reasons I think there’s so much excitement around this event, from a Formula 1 perspective, is because of the promise of how big it could be and how grand it could be,” he said.

“From a racing perspective, it’s not the most challenging layout. The drivers have said they don’t think it’s going to be the most technical. Most of them, I think, are excited to go. They’re very much looking forward to the location,” Medland said.

Medland recommends that anyone looking to learn more about the sport watch the Netflix series, “Drive to Survive,” which has already started to create a fan base among Americans.

Though American fans hope for a long-shot chance that a new American team can be on the grid for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, both Smith and Medland concur that those dreams are more likely to become a reality by 2025.