F1 drivers prep to work late shift in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas is a 24-hour city but the Formula One drivers facing a schedule that will see them racing into the early morning hours said on Wednesday that they will need to find another gear at the Grand Prix.
Friday's qualifying will not begin until midnight local time, meaning it will take place on the same day as Saturday's 10 p.m. race down the Las Vegas Strip, with media obligations following both events.
AlphaTauri's Daniel Ricciardo said he arrived to the west coast early in the hopes of adjusting his sleep schedule to no avail.
"I tried," he told reporters.
"I was in LA for a week and I was staying up a bit later but I just kept waking up early. So all I was doing was shortening my sleep.
"If I'm tired I'm just going to sleep and if I'm in the car, I'm just going to drink Red Bull. It's a pretty simple strategy this weekend," he said with a laugh.
Saturday's race will showcase the glamour of the extravagant city as the cars zip down the famed Las Vegas Strip at night, delivering an atmosphere that would not be the same under sunny Nevada skies.
The timing is also designed to accommodate fans in European time zones, who can wake up to the competition, but will make it difficult for fans on the U.S. east coast to catch the action live.
Regardless of the start times, Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso said Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who has already captured the world championship, will still be tough to beat.
Asked if Verstappen could be more vulnerable in Las Vegas, Alonso did not hesitate.
"I don't think so," he said.
Alonso's outlook on the race was as dreary as the spitting rain that fell during Wednesday's opening ceremony.
"It would be nice to win a race, especially the first race in a place like this one, but I think it's unlikely that it happens," Alonso said.
"I don't think this track is one of our favorites."
Drivers said the late night starts in Las Vegas could have a knock on effect when they head to Abu Dhabi the following weekend.
"There is going to be a big time difference and we'll all probably face jet lag, some will suffer more than others," said Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg.
"It's going to be a challenge and maybe you're not going to feel super sharp on Friday or Saturday but it's the same for all of us.
"We'll just have to cope the best we can." - REUTERS