F1 stars facing grueling 8,000-mile trip as bosses slam Las Vegas schedule

The Las Vegas Grand Prix is in the books, but, after a problematic weekend in Sin City, the challenges are not over for the drivers and the teams. The return of F1 to the city after 40 years certainly delivered a spectacle, but it was not without its issues which took their toll on everyone in the paddock.

The race weekend got off to an inauspicious start, with a broken manhole cover forcing the end of the first practice session after just a few minutes and a four-hour delay to the second practice window, leaving fans disappointed and crews working overtime. That was on top of working the latest race weekend in history, with qualifying starting at midnight on Friday evening and the race beginning at 10pm local time on Saturday.

The grueling schedule throughout the weekend led to many complaints and demands for change from team bosses, whose drivers and staff only have more hard work ahead of them. The season concludes in Abu Dhabi on Sunday and the teams have embarked on a 20-hour, 8,187-mile journey to the Middle East.

Once they have their feet on the ground after a long flight, the teams will also have to negotiate a 12-hour time difference from their last stop, with jetlag sure to be a significant issue for drivers and crew alike. With the heat factor included – Vegas was a pleasant 64 degrees for the race, but the mercury in Abu Dhabi is set to hit the 80s – the drivers and the support staff would have put their bodies through a lot in a jam-packed finish to the season.

The situation is only set to get more difficult in 2024. The Las Vegas Grand Prix is slated to begin a trio of closing races, with Qatar and Abu Dhabi following in successive weeks, leading team principals to call for changes to the schedule. The race started late to satisfy TV audiences in Europe and mitigate the impact of road closures in the area.

“There are going to be many lessons to learn,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Motorsport.com. “One of the things to look at is the running schedule because it has been brutal for the team and all the men and women behind the scenes. Everybody is leaving Vegas slightly f***ed. One way or another, it has been a brutal weekend for everyone behind the scenes, and I think we need to look at how we can improve that for the future.”

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Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack urged the teams to take a “step back” and not make any snap judgments on the changes required. He added: “The sporting regulations are quite rigid in terms of timing, they calculate everything from the race, from different sessions. So you would need to change that. But I think it’s possible to incorporate what the race promotion needs, and what the workforce needs. It just needs a bit of work.”

World champion Max Verstappen won his 18th race of an incredible season in Las Vegas, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez finished third.

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