Formula 1

Formula 1 must resist urge for Las Vegas Grand Prix

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A race along Las Vegas' famous Strip has become the latest dream for F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone.

The 83-year-old claimed representatives for a proposed race are pushing for a spot on the ever expanding calendar.

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"Vegas say they are ready to go and it would be on The Strip for sure," he said.

Remembering Caesar's Palace

A race in the Nevada desert would be nothing new for Formula 1, in the early 1980's two Grands Prix took place in the car park of the Caesar's Palace hotel.

While the venue was special the action was not as the very basic circuit layout offered little challenge and the race didn't catch on with fans.

But with the prospect of a street race along one of the most famous stretches of road in the world, the publicity the sport would get in a country that finally seems to be warming to Formula 1 after years of failed attempts would be incredible.

Not Alone

The problem F1 has, however, is a calendar already nearing capacity and two new races coming in the next two years, as Mexico and Azerbaijan join the schedule.

Therefore finding a place for Las Vegas would have to come either at the expense of another current venue or the teams who would likely have to deal with a 22-race season.

"In the end there's a million countries that would like to have an F1 race but they can't afford it," Ecclestone claimed.

And on how he plans to cope with the influx of new races he added: "It is more likely that it will go over 20 with Baku than we lose a race."

One option that could be on the table, if the Vegas plans go ahead, could be to alternate with the current US Grand Prix venue at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Given the proximity of the two locations in a vast country like the USA that could be the only way to make both races work, however, whether Austin, which has taken F1 to heart since arriving on the calendar in 2012, would be up for that idea is another story.

All talk?

The Las Vegas project is just the latest in a number of races that have been suggested even added but in recent times several have failed to come to fruition.

Another dream location in the shadows of New York's famous skyline has been set to join the calendar for the past couple of years, however, the organisers of the New Jersey race have disbanded and the whole project shelved.

Thailand was another country looking to take a page from Singapore's book and hold a night street race in Bangkok before new laws banning racing on public roads put an end to that idea.

While the cost of hosting a race in Las Vegas would likely not be a problem, the whole idea of shutting down The Strip for a sport only an incredibly small percentage of people watch in the States would largely be seen as an inconvenience rather than an opportunity.

Another show race?

If the plans did go ahead, what would a race in Las Vegas really offer Formula 1? The sport already has enough what I would call 'show races' where they go to incredible locations and the events and activities off the track often overshadow what takes place on it.

Monaco, Singapore and Abu Dhabi all do it with their great backdrops, glitzy night life and rock concerts providing an experience that make them must visit races for all die hard fans.

But if too many of these kind of races exist then the uniqueness is lost and also puts increasing pressure on races that don't put on a weekend long show.

Fans go to Silverstone, Belgium, Italy for the racing not the off track activities and anyway the fun and games in the camp sites when the on track action ends always makes for a great weekend.

Balancing act

As a lot of things seem to be in Formula 1 nowadays its all about finding a balance between the racing and the show and also about mixing modern with tradition.

While rock concerts and other events may attract casual fans to races most are happy to sleep in a tent, enjoy banter with fellow fans and focus on the action on the track.

As for Vegas, we can fantasise about watching Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel running side-by-side along The Strip at a couple of hundred miles an hour, but as the first two trips three decades ago prove, you can have the location and have the dream but most dreams never work out in reality.

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