F1 world title racing in the Las Vegas parking lot – from swoon to triumph

F1 will return to Las Vegas in 2023 for its third race in the United States, but memorably it won’t be the first duel in Sin City – where the world title was once decided in a hotel parking lot.

Finally, Formula 1 seems to have finally conquered the American market it has been longing for.

The series has seen a surge in popularity in the United States since it was acquired by Liberty Media in 2017 – with the Netflix show Drive to survive the main reason for the sky-high numbers.

Around 400,000 fans attended the 2021 United States Grand Prix in Austin over the weekend as the title fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton intensified in the final laps.

Such is the push that F1 will race in the US for the second time in 2022, as Miami joins the calendar in May – Austin (below) in the fall.

However, F1 will announce a deal to start racing in Las Vegas again – starting in 2023 to host three US Grands Prix.

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The first time an F1 race was held in Las Vegas was in 1981 – a memorable race for passed out drivers, one that threw away the world title and ridicule, all taking place in a hotel parking lot…

Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

F1 heads for the second bite in Las Vegas

The 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix is ​​scheduled for a primetime slot on Thanksgiving weekend next November.

It will include parts of the famous Las Vegas Strip – and a nighttime street race – similar to what we currently have in Saudi Arabia.

This new Las Vegas F1 track will be a far cry from when the series first went to Nevada in 1981 and 1982.

For some reason, think of those green paper things with $ on them, the Grand Prix was held in the Caesars Palace parking lot.

A 14-turn circuit that snaked around the parking lot, with turns 2 through 10 in a twisty section of the field before the cars picked up speed at turn 11.

Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images

A 90-degree corner at Turn 14 ended the 2.26-mile circuit, which allowed drivers to complete 75 laps.

The only problem was that it was a counter-clockwise track, which put a lot of strain on the necks of riders – who are more used to clockwise rotation.

Add to that the fact that the track was as smooth as glass, 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 C) hot, it was a recipe for an awkward day at the office.

The world title was decided in a hotel parking lot – twice

Before the race – the season finale – Williams driver Carlos Reutemann (below) and Brabham’s Nelson Piquet were the two remaining main contenders for the title.

Photo by Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images

Jacques Laffite was third but his hopes were low thanks to a points deficit.

Argentinian Reutemann led with 49 points, Piquet with 48 and Laffite with 43 points.

Reutemann took pole, Piquet was fourth.

Laffite would start 12th and finish sixth – ending up with 44 points and well out of contention.

Reutemann got off to a sluggish start and, despite gearbox problems, only finished the race in eighth place, one lap behind.

Piquet fought his way through the heat and exhaustion – only fifth place was enough to overtake Reutemann.

The Brabham racer worked his way up to fifth – just 1.7s ahead of P6 man Laffite to claim his first of three world titles.

Brazil’s Piquet was so exhausted after the effort that he had to be lifted out of his car as he was so weak.

Photo by Hoch Zwei/Corbis via Getty Images

Highlights of the race can be viewed Here.

Dull spells in Act II end

Alan Jones – the outgoing World Champion won this event in 1981, with Michele Alboreto honored a year later.

In 1982 the title was also decided in the last race – albeit under less dramatic circumstances.

Keke Rosberg – father of Nico (both below) only needed to finish in the points to take the win.

He duly finished fifth, becoming the first Finn to become F1 World Champion.

At this second F1 race in Las Vegas, the initial excitement was gone.

F1 immediately exited the Caesars Palace car park and handed it back to the hotel.

The series has raced on some wild tracks in its 72-year history – the Nürburgring, AVUS and Pescara (nearly 16 miles long).

But perhaps none was as unusual or as out of place as the Caesars Palace parking lot.

F1’s first taste of Las Vegas certainly made an impression – now the series is hoping its second bite will be just as memorable – but this time for all the right reasons…

Photo by Steve Etherington/Getty Images

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https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2022/03/30/las-vegas-f1/ F1 world title racing in the Las Vegas parking lot – from swoon to triumph

Brian Ashcraft

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