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Bring it on! Say F1 drivers ahead of “wild” Las Vegas GP

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Most Formula 1 drivers look forward with great anticipation to this weekend’s return of the sport to Las Vegas for the Grand Prix this weekend, the consensus is: Bring it on!

Most? Well, Max Verstappen has mentioned he is not a fan of pop-up street tracks and expects ot to be more of “an exhibition than a race.”

But even he would be forgiven a shudder of excitement as he contemplates the immenseness of the project that entails a 6.2 km track past the Las Vegas’ most icnoic and greatest landmarks. And all that comes with that.

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This is what F1 drivers are saying ahead of the third running of a Grand Prix in Las Vegas:

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon looked ahead to the weekend: “It does not get more exciting than this! We’ve been talking about Las Vegas for a long time now and it is great that it is finally here. Vegas is such an iconic city that I think everyone must visit at least once and to have a Formula 1 race here still doesn’t feel real! It will be a very busy weekend for everyone, but our focus will be to perform on track and do our best to achieve a good result.

“Obviously, no one has properly driven around here yet so it will be a bit of a surprise for most of us once we actually get out there for the first Free Practice session. From what we have seen, it looks like an interesting track with a left-hand hairpin at Turn 1, some medium-speed corners and a very long straight on full throttle.

“We will be pushing hard for a good weekend on track, and we hope to have an entertaining Grand Prix for all the fans who will be watching us race in Vegas and around the world,” declared the Frenchman.

Gasly: We’re all heading into the unknown

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Alpine teammate and fellow countryman, Pierre Gasly added: “We’re all heading into the unknown with this Grand Prix as it’s a completely new venue and a unique circuit. It’s certainly a challenge but we’re all in the same position.

We don’t truly know what the circuit will be like to drive until we hit the track in Free Practice 1 on Thursday. I spent some time in the simulator to learn the layout and, I must say, it’s a unique lap.

There are some long medium-speed corners, hard braking zones, fast kinks and then the very long straight down the Las Vegas strip. I think at night with all the lights that will look pretty spectacular! I’m excited for it and we’ll do our best to adapt as quickly as we can to the new circuit and potentially tricky conditions,” predicted Gasly.

Daniel Ricciardo, who did the chat-circuit on US TV ahead of this week, including a stint on Jimmy Kimmel Live, said in the AlphaTauri preview: I’ve been to Vegas before, many times.  It’ll be interesting to go there with a slightly different mindset. It’s such a surreal city, especially at night with all the lights. I think it will feel like we are racing on a movie set, so that’ll be cool.

“From what I’ve learned on the sim, it’s a really challenging track because there’s a lot of long straights and then these short 90-degree corners with a lot of turning and braking. The layout’s definitely interesting.  We know it’s going to be cold.

“I think getting the tyres working and the car to produce enough grip with downforce will be a big key to getting some lap time out of it. The bottom line is I’m there to race, and that’s the thing I need to prioritise and focus on,” insisted the Australian.

Tsunoda: The big talking point is that it might be very cold

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Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda said: “I’ve driven Vegas on the simulator, and it’s very fast with really long straights, but most of the corners are slow speed, which will require big braking. In the past, we tended to struggle at circuits that have long straights.

“The big talking point going into this race is that it might be very cold when the cars are on track at night. Of course, our engineers have been studying this, and it will be the same temperatures for everyone,” reckoned the Japanese driver.

Williams driver Alex Albon shared his thoughts in his team’s preview of the weekend: “Heading to Las Vegas, I’m excited to see what this track has to offer. From the outside, it looks like a relatively simple track but on the simulator, it’s not. It’ll be hard to extract the most out of the car due to the low downforce and awkward corners. The hype around Vegas has been massive, so I’m looking forward to experiencing it!

The only American driver on the grid is rookie Logan Sargeant, who said: “Las Vegas marks my third and final home race of the season and I’m excited for the week to get underway. Driving under the lights of all the hotels down the strip will be an iconic moment.

“I’ve raced in Vegas multiple times in karting as a kid, so to be able to go back there and race in F1 is going to feel special. Hopefully, we can have a strong race and make it a memorable weekend for the fans and team,” concluded Sargeant.

Norris: I’m excited to race on the Las Vegas Strip

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Both McLaren drivers are hoping their sparkling form carries over to Vegas. Lando Norris said in the team preview: “It’s finally time for the Las Vegas GP! We’ve all been looking forward to this since it was announced last year. I’m excited to race on the Vegas Strip. I’m sure it’s going to be a special one with an incredible atmosphere.

“It’s a brand-new track for all of us. I’ve been preparing in the sim but experiencing it in practice will be interesting. We’ve had a couple of good races with four podiums in the last five races. I’m determined to keep the consistency going into the season’s final two races and end on a high,” added the Englishman.

McLaren rookie, Oscar Piastri echoed his teammate: “I’m excited to be heading to Vegas and kicking off the last double header of the season. It should be a fun one, driving in a unique location. I can’t wait to see what it looks like.

“Vegas is another new track for me, but it’s new for everyone else, so it should make for an interesting weekend. The team have done an amazing job with the car this season, and I’m hoping to get back in the points,” the Australian added hopefully.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who was based in the USA before his F1 recall and with the only US-owned team said: “After Brazil I immediately switched focus to Las Vegas, getting to know the track and all the corners. I’m excited to get familiar with the Las Vegas Street Circuit in person.

“If it’s going to be that cold in the night, then getting the tires up to temperature is going to be very difficult. We could see some spectacle – it’s going to be all about getting temperature in the tires. Downforce helps with that, so let’s see how we go,” reckoned the Dane.

Hamilton: The best thing is just to go with an open mind

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Fellow veteran teammate Nico Hulkenberg commented: “I think the US races are special, they’re the new races in the sport. In a way, the sport is new in the US, and they do it differently here. It’s more of a show and there’s a special atmosphere here. Being the only American team, there’s extra pressure to do well, which is a good thing, and when we do score the points at those races, it’s very fulfilling.”

A final word to Lewis Hamilton, the most high-profile driver in America and a frequent visitor to the country, who said ahead of his Las Vegas visit: “It’s going to be such a compact spot with so many people, but I think it’s gonna be a wild experience. The best thing is just to go with an open mind and not have any pre-determined ideas of what it’s going to be like and just take it all in when you get there.

“Driving in the nightlights I’m going to feel like I’m in the Casino movie! It’s pretty cool. People are going to be coming from all over for the Grand Prix. It’s great that each city here in America gives a different atmosphere but the one thing is they’ve amazing fans, hardcore sporting fans.

“It’s such a huge place and there’s something for everyone here. If you want to be in the mountains, you want to be in countryside, you want to be in the city… You’ve got New York which I think is the coolest city ever and Vegas which is kind of a big playground for adults,” concluded the seven-time F1 World Champion.