The Las Vegas F1 Grand Prix may not be a foregone conclusion after all, with an unexpected weather problem creating difficult challenges for teams. However, Max Verstappen and Red Bull enter the race having completed both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.
The Dutchman finished three-peat of the F1 world championship in Qatar and has won 17 races so far this season, while Red Bull has lost just one race, coming in Singapore to Ferrari and Carlos Sainz. But Las Vegas is set to be the coldest race of the year, with lights out at 10pm local time and temperatures forecast to be 12 degrees Celsius or lower.
It will be difficult for teams and drivers to get tires at the optimal temperature to set faster lap times in qualifying and when racing takes place on Saturday due to the cold weather as well as the long durations of the Vegas circuit . Lock-ups could happen later this month and could give another team and driver the chance to beat Verstappen’s dominant Red Bull.
“It will depend directly on how cold it is,” said Mercedes engineering director Andrew Shovlin Autosport. “Because if the track is down in the single figures, that’s often in a region where you go to winter testing. You make a run, it’s very difficult for the tires to turn them on, or it could be grain and stuff in. And then sometimes you just have to wait until it gets a little bit better.
Haas engineering director Ayao Komatsu believes an opportunity could be seized. The American team has struggled this year with high tire temperatures. He said: “It’s a very different temperature window, so we have to get the tires working.
“But if I had to choose hot or cold, I would choose cold conditions at this moment! So I hope we can get it to work. I think it will be a big challenge for us, especially our team with the tools we have. “It’s more limited in terms of pre-event simulation, compared to Mercedes, as they say.”
Verstappen, who seems to be a mistake these days, could end the season with 19 wins out of 22 available to win in Vegas and the season winner in Abu Dhabi. That would see the 26-year-old jump up to third in the all-time F1 wins standings, overtaking the great Sebastian Vettel, who has 53.
And if Verstappen were to continue his dominance in the 2024 and 2025 seasons by winning 15-plus races before the chances under the 2026 regulations, he could find himself not too far off rival Lewis Hamilton’s record of 103. unbeaten team from Brazil 2022.
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