Preparations to ready street circuit for F1′s Las Vegas Grand Prix are unprecedented

The preparations to ready the street circuit for F1′s Las Vegas Grand Prix are unprecedented.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 10:59 AM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The scale of the Las Vegas Grand Prix is unprecedented, and so was the roadwork it took to get the track ready.

As roads throughout the Las Vegas Resorts Cooridor were re-paved for an all-out street race, local drivers were caught in a crawl. Formula 1 insists it was a temporary headache.

In a statement to FOX5, the Las Vegas Grand Prix says the surface poured for this year’s race will last a minimum of six years, which will the event through more than half of its decade-long contract.

However, officials do expect regular maintenance to be necessary, adding, “the FIA and F1 will evaluate the track after the first race and advise of any required changes or updates.”

“It’s not going to be a yearly thing at all,” says Luke Smith, who serves as the Senior F1 Writer for The Athletic. “The big thing for street circuits year-on-year is really safety. The F1 drivers all see that as their absolute priority. We might get some updates saying ‘we’ve installed some new safety barriers in this corner.’”

In the 2023 season, more than a third of the F1 calendar is made up of street circuits, meaning they run on existing roads like the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which offer a wide range of precedents.

Since 2016, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has followed the same course through a UNESCO world heritage site in bustling downtown Baku. Over the past four years, it has never been fully repaved, though individual sections have. In 2019, a portion on the east side was resurfaced and this year, roadwork was done on the west side.

However, Singapore is a different story. F1′s first-ever night race has run along normally busy public roads since 2008.

Widespread roadwork has taken place three of the past five years. The two exceptions came in years when the Grand Prix was canceled over COVID-19 restrictions. A spokesperson with that circuit told FOX5 they assess the need for roadwork 6 months before every race, using standards from F1′s governing body.

The Australian Grand Prix offers an extreme example. The track, which runs on a combination of public and private roads in Melbourne’s Albert Park, has only been repaved once since its inaugural race in 1996.

“It was quite a big re-profiling of that track. But they managed to do that within the confines of the existing roads,” said Smith.

A spokesperson with Clark County said the path forward is unclear should the Las Vegas Street Circuit require maintenance.

In a statement, they say they plan to review the process for permitting future roadwork after the inaugural race. However, they add that it is too early to speculate on the kinds of updates the track will require.