In his Monday morning Formula 1 column, Mirror Sport’s Daniel Moxon looks at what the announcement of a new race in Sin City means for the sport’s American Dream
Formula 1 announced the Las Vegas Grand Prix this week, introducing to the calendar what promises to be one of the most glamorous race weekends of the year.
Starting from 2023, the sport will head to Sin City annually for at least three years, adding an exciting new venue to the schedule. Monaco just gained a new rival in terms of the biggest magnet for the rich and famous – which can only be a good thing for the sport’s prestige.
There is a lot to like about this latest addition to the race calendar. Even aside from the image benefits, it is a sign that F1 really is as alive and kicking as we have all been led to believe.
As of next year, the paddock will be making three trips to the US. Austin has become a regular fixture of the sport, while the first race at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium will take place next month. Now, there will be a venue further west as well.
Such an eventuality could not have been imagined at any point in the past, even just a few short years ago. Stateside races are far from a novelty, but until recently F1 has always struggled to really make an impact on the notoriously impervious US market.
When Liberty Media bought the sport, changing that was one of the aims it publicly announced it wanted to achieve. Judging even solely by the unprecedentedly massive crowds at least year’s United States Grand Prix – up by more than 50% to around 400,000 people through the gates – it is a job that is being done well.
Courtesy of Formula 1/MEGA)
Perhaps even more impressive is the way the sport is now appealing to a younger audience like it never has before. A huge social media community is helping to drive that, having been built up over the last few years following the relaxation of previously strict rules that teams and drivers had to follow which restricted their activities on such platforms.
The Drive to Survive docu-drama on Netflix has also been a boost, bringing a huge wave of new fans to the sport, helped by the creation of streaming platform F1 TV and a popular e-sports league. Towards the end of last season, Liberty announced that the average age of F1 fans has dropped from 36 to 32 since they bought the sport.
That’s not to say more progress can’t be made, and the Las Vegas Grand Prix is a prime example. The last time F1 visited the Nevadan city, the biggest racing stars in the world were doing laps of a slippery and shoddy track created in the car park of the Caesars Palace hotel and casino.
This time, the pledge is that things will be different. The race will be at night, showcasing many of the world famous landmarks Las Vegas has to offer, with a sprint along the famous Strip being the stand-out part of the proposed track layout. F1 chief Stefano Domenicali gushed that “there is no better place for Formula 1 to race than in the global entertainment capital of the world”.
The success of the Las Vegas Grand Prix may prove to be a useful yardstick against which to measure just how successful F1’s foray into the US market has been. That is because, unlike with other venues, the sport itself will be footing the bill to put on the event.
This means it will cash in on all profits from ticket sales, advertisers and so on, but similarly will be liable for any losses if the Grand Prix is a flop. If it hastily disappears from the calendar again after a few years, then that might well be an indicator that, at the very least, the event is not generating enough revenue to make it worth their while.
The US market means so much to Liberty Media, so they will be hoping the Las Vegas Grand Prix can become part of the furniture.