Piastri: Las Vegas schedule ‘a struggle for everyone’

Oscar Piastri predicts everyone will struggle with the unique Las Vegas Grand Prix schedule. Image: XPB Images

Oscar Piastri predicts everyone will struggle with the unique Las Vegas Grand Prix schedule. Image: XPB Images

The unusual schedule for this weekend’s inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix will be “a struggle for everyone,” according to Oscar Piastri.

F1’s new flagship event got underway on Wednesday in Las Vegas with an opening ceremony and media sessions – many of which took place in the small hours of Thursday morning.

The track schedule for the event has shifted forward a day from its traditional timing and sees opening practice begin at 20:30 local time.

Free Practice 2 and Qualifying will start at midnight on Thursday and Friday nights respectively, ahead of the grand prix commencing at 22:00 on Saturday.

It creates an unusual schedule that sees the sport begin its day in the evening, working through the night and going to bed as the sun rises.

It’s reminiscent of how the paddock operates in Singapore, though there they remain on European time. In Vegas, the time difference is such that jet lag is unavoidable.

“There’s going to be a lot of unique challenges,” Piastri began of the weekend ahead.

“First, with the weather, I don’t think it’s as cold as maybe we feared it would be, but it’s still not warm.

“The time difference and time schedule is sort of similar to Singapore, but at least in Singapore you just stay on the same time, effectively. Here, it’s completely different.

“I think that’s going to be a bit of a struggle for everyone.”

Piastri’s comments came during his pre-event media briefing, held at 01:00 on Thursday morning local time following the opening ceremony, at which Kylie Monigue and Keth Urban, among others, performed.

It was a lavish affair with a string of musical acts playing before a brief appearance by all 20 drivers to kick off the all-new event – evidence that the schedule isn’t the only thing Las Vegas is doing differently.

Las Vegas is the penultimate round of the 2023 season, with the sport heading to Abu Dhabi next weekend.

The paddock will adjust again, with next Sunday’s race beginning at 17:00 local time. That equates to 05:00 on Sunday morning in Las Vegas.

“Even when I saw the schedule, you know, arriving at the track at, today for example, arrived at the track at five o’clock when it’s already dark messes with your head a little bit,” Piastri of his Las Vegas schedule.

“And going to bed at four or five in the morning, trying to sleep through the day effectively when your body clock is trying to do the complete opposite, it’s a challenge.”

“It’s like a double-whammy,” he added, given the induced jet lag and need to operate at night.

“Going from here to Abu Dhabi is going to be another interesting experience, but maybe something they can look into for next time.”

Once in the car, the 22-year-old does not expect fatigue to be an issue around the 6.2km circuit.

“I’m sure it’ll be easier when that time comes,” he said when it was noted he was speaking at around the time qualifying would end on Friday.

“We’ll have a couple more days to get used to it.

“Driving an F1 car at 350km/h between the walls usually keeps you awake pretty well as well, so I’m sure that’ll help!

“But yeah, it’s definitely put a lot of people’s sleep schedules and jetlag management to the test.”

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