Weather Forecast – How cold will the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix be?
We are just a few days away from the Las Vegas Grand Prix and many are anticipating a race unlike any other on this year’s Formula 1 calendar. The weekend event is a unique point for 2023 as the event takes place between Thursday and Saturday instead of the usual Friday to Sunday format.
Drivers will head to the street circuit late at night so spectators can enjoy the real bright city lights. The street race will test the drivers and their teams under unusually cold conditions that are expected to affect the cars.
In previous years, races at the famous track led to drivers complaining about high temperatures. The last time Formula 1 took to the streets of Vegas was in 1982, but the Caesars Palace Grand Prix was heavily criticized for a flat track and temperatures as high as 37.1 degrees Celsius (99.8 Fahrenheit).
The race was held at the end of September, and the heat combined with track conditions of abrasive asphalt in the hotel car park meant that drivers were struggling to control their tyres. The heat also affected the drivers, with many of them suffering from neck pain and extreme fatigue at the end of the 75-lap race.
Brabham’s Nelson Piquet vomited on his helmet during the Grand Prix and had to be extricated from his car after the checkered flag.
Former Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn admitted the series did not take Las Vegas’ low temperatures into account when allocating the track’s place on the calendar. Many are concerned about how low temperatures will affect a car’s performance and safety on track.
Photography: Eric Junius
Las Vegas street atmosphere
What is the weather forecast for the Las Vegas Grand Prix?
Thursday 16 November
Thursday will see clear but potentially slightly windy weather, with rain possible at the end of FP2. Temperatures for the race are scheduled to reach around 13°C (55°F) with lows of 8°C (46°F), with a 20% chance of rain.
Friday 17 November
Friday should also see temperatures of around 13°C (55°F) with the potential to reach 9°C (48°F) in FP3 and qualifying. Rain is expected to fall in the early afternoon and evening but should clear before qualifying begins. There is a 40% chance of rain on Friday.
Saturday 18 November
The likelihood of rain is significantly reduced leading up to the race, with light rain forecast until early afternoon, which should clear before nightfall. Nighttime highs can reach 13°C (55°F), with lows at 7°C (44°F).
How could cold weather affect Formula 1?
Cold weather can greatly affect the performance of all three Pirelli vehicles, but cold temperatures can also have an impact on the car overall. Cooler track surfaces can mean that tires take longer to warm up and require more energy from the cars to get going, and this can result in a faster loss of pressure and the need for more pit stops during the race.
Cold tires can also cause drivers to lack grip, meaning they will have to fight their cars to stay on the tracks. Long straights cool the tires and brakes, and with a few high-speed turns, which are usually where heat is generated, drivers will have a hard time building up the heat quickly.
The track was recently resurfaced and will be open to regular Las Vegas traffic between sessions to avoid city-wide traffic issues, however, this will prevent the track surface from “rubberizing”. This term is used to describe how tire debris from previous sessions creates a high-grip layer on the track before the race, giving drivers better grip.
Cold temperatures will also affect cars’ carbon brake discs which typically range between 500°C and 600°C but can reach over 1000°C in areas of extreme braking. If discs become too cold, their ability to function properly may be significantly reduced, meaning cars may take longer to brake.
If the brakes are too cold, drivers may experience locking up and shifting widely which could result in some yellow flags or potential crashes.
Photography: Eric Junius
Las Vegas Council
Could this be the coldest Formula 1 race ever?
The desert can get very cold in the middle of the night, and if the temperature on the track drops below 5°C over the weekend, it could be the coldest race in Formula 1 history. A slight chance of rain could also reduce track temperatures. , which makes the race interesting.
The coldest Formula 1 race in history was the 1978 Canadian Grand Prix with air temperatures reaching 5 degrees Celsius in Montreal. The race was held in early October and those standing on the podium were wrapped in winter jackets as the snow began to fall.