Drivers unimpressed with low-grip Las Vegas track
By Mat Coch
Sunday 19th November, 2023 - 12:03pm
Drivers have criticised the low grip nature of the Las Vegas track surface and questioned why organisers didn’t simply copy the mix used in Saudi Arabia.
The all-new Las Vegas circuit had a rocky start when a drain cover broke free just eight minutes into opening practice on Thursday.
Things have improved with Friday running without a hitch, though drivers were left unimpressed by the circuit itself. A lack of grip was a common complaint.
That is partly a result of atmospheric conditions and the fact cars are on track well after sunset, when temperatures have cooled off, but drivers have also criticised the Las Vegas track tarmac.
“I think the surface is one thing us drivers haven’t loved,” said Daniel Ricciardo.
“It’s hard obviously when it’s a street track, it’s public roads…
“They’ve got machines that they could use to kind of blast the circuit and extract a little bit more, like get the stone out a little more, I guess, to make it a little more abrasive.
“On our wish list, maybe we wish it was a little bit more of a Saudi level of grip because that’s really good for a street circuit.
“That’s probably the only thing that I haven’t loved, is that kind of slippery feeling.”
Mercedes’ George Russell added: “Jeddah is the gold standard of track surface, and we’ve been saying this for many years now.
“We’ve been to a number of tracks where they’ve resurfaced it, or new tracks, and the grip has been really poor and there’s only been one racing line.
“In Jeddah, on the whole width of the circuit, is very good grip. They’ve done an exceptional job there and that’s what we want.
“I think it was in Miami in the first year at least you couldn’t go off the racing line because there was no grip, and that doesn’t offer any racing.
“I think it’s been a challenge here in Vegas because we’ve been the only cars on track, too.”
Formula 1 is the only category racing this weekend, with no supporting act to help clean and rubber in the track.
Further complicating things is the fact the Strip one of the busiest thoroughfares in Las Vegas, and is opened back up to traffic during the day.
“I’m happy to race in a city like this one; crazy city, crazy set up,” said Fernando Alonso.
“All the facilities, they look great, to be the first year and in the second year they will improve a few things.
“The track, maybe it’s a little bit… yeah, not super excited with these long straights and things.
“But the asphalt, maybe super low grip. I don’t know why they don’t copy the asphalt that we know [will] work, like in Saudi or some other circuits.
“That could maybe change the fun that we have behind the wheel, and maybe the overtaking we have tomorrow and things like that,” he added.
“We will not be able to go off line and these kind of things, so it’s sad, but the rest is quite impressive.”