Verstappen set for Vegas ‘surprises’ after hitting walls in F1 game

Las Vegas is set to spring a few surprises, according to Max Verstappen

Las Vegas is set to spring a few surprises, according to Max Verstappen. Image: Russell Batchelor/XPB

Max Verstappen feels the Las Vegas Grand Prix will throw up “a few surprises” when it makes its debut on the F1 calendar next weekend.

Red Bull and Verstappen may have long since wrapped up the constructors’ and drivers’ titles for another season but Formula 1 is gearing itself up for arguably one of the most eagerly-anticipated events for many years.

The night-time race is set to highlight all the glitz and glamour that Vegas has to offer, with the 17-turn, 6.201-kilometre track also incorporating the famous Strip, and seemingly with plenty of opportunities to overtake.

After winning a record-extending 17th race of the season in São Paulo on Sunday, at that stage Verstappen’s only taste of the circuit had been via a video game – and with not too much success.

Assessing the challenge ahead, he said: “I’ll deal with that once I arrive at the track.

“There’s still a lot to do. I still need to go on the simulator. I still don’t even know the track, to be honest. The last time I tried it on the F1 game, I think I hit more walls than I was going straight. Let’s hope that’s not the case when I start driving there.

“But it’s going to be very different – very low temperatures in the night there, a street circuit. We have no experience there. We don’t know the track grip. It’s all new, so maybe it will give you a few surprises.”

The air and track temperatures F1 has rarely experienced, with the former set to dip to around six degrees Celsius when the race is due to start at 10pm.

For McLaren driver Lando Norris, who finished runner-up to Verstappen for the fifth time in six races this year in taking second place at Interlagos, attempting to second guess how McLaren will perform in Las Vegas is a lottery.

Asked as to whether McLaren will be competitive, he honestly replied: “No idea.

“I don’t think we were expecting to be as competitive (in São Paulo)  as we have been, so we’re still surprising ourselves.

“I gave up on guessing where we are going to be nowadays. I mean, probably after Bahrain, I didn’t want to think of where we’re going to be. But it comes and goes.

“I think everyone expected Mercedes to be extremely strong (around Interlagos) and they were nowhere. Everyone expected Ferrari to be a bit more competitive, and they weren’t.

“So I think no one really knows. Everyone just guesses and presumes but no one knows until we just get on track. So just let’s wait and see.”

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