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Was the Las Vegas Grand Prix a Success or a Flop?

Penny November 29, 2023

Excitement was always going to be high for Formula One’s return to the Nevada desert. It had been a long three decades since the F1 had set up shop in the city of Las Vegas and so expectations were through the roof. Instead, though, the build-up to the event was marred by controversy surrounding ticket pricing and the blocking off of anywhere that overlooked the track with unsightly walls to discourage anyone from getting to see any of the action without paying. Now that the event has been and gone, though, will this go down as a historic occasion or will disappointment be the long-lasting legacy of this year’s Vegas Grand Prix?

Las Vegas and Formula 1

Potential for Disaster at Every Turn

The early negative talk around this grand prix focused mostly on the issues that overpricing of tickets would cause. Many felt it priced out a good majority of F1 fans in the country and even further afield. It would transpire, too, that the prohibitive costs would have an effect on the event itself as people chose to vote with their feet. The Daily Mail reported that there were somewhere in the region of 10,000 unsold tickets in the week leading up to the event. That was evident as there were empty grandstands all throughout the race, showing that many were turned off by the increased price of F1 tickets. That the decision was made to alienate an audience that is so passionate about the sport is unusual and Formula 1’s Las Vegas decision to close off the view to the track with gaudy fencing didn’t help encourage newcomers to motorsports. In fact, it served to turn people away from it instead, as many were left with a sour taste after the eyesore spoiled their vacations and visits to the city.


What couldn’t be expected, though, was the accidents and slip-ups that threatened to wreak havoc on an already under-the-microscope event. No one had a water valve disrupting the first day on the track on their bingo card, but that is just what happened. As reported by ABC News, the first night’s practice was halted after just nine minutes as Carlos Sanz hit the drainage valve, causing damage to his vehicle, and leading to organizers hitting pause so that they could inspect the course and ensure that no further disruptions or potential hazards could be identified. That meant that the practices, delayed by more than two hours, would run into the early morning without an audience. Those viewers had been asked to leave the area and practice would ultimately be cut short by the need for the course to be re-opened for Vegas’ morning commute. While those affected ticket holders were given $200 in credit, there will still be many upset to have missed out on such a big occasion.

Many Still Happy With Vegas’ Motorsports Offering

It would be easy to assume that the issues that have arisen in recent months have been enough to sour F1 and Vegas fans to the idea of motorsports in the city. However, the data seems to suggest that much of the negative talk is all hot air designed to fill the newspaper front pages. Instead, Forbes detailed that the race pulled in a staggering 1.3 million in viewers on ESPN, as well as more than 300,000 being in attendance trackside. This shows that the discussions around a disappointing event may appear to be nothing but the sort of negativity that any huge spectacle such as this endures. As the pinnacle of a sport in a country, there will always be those who look to pick holes in it. Rather than do that, though, the organizers will be looking to the promising numbers as a reason to be cheerful.


It’s clear to see that there were teething issues with what was essentially a brand new event added to the F1 calendar. It is to be expected, though, when such a staple of international sports entertainment makes its return to a city more than 30 years after the last time it visited. None of the slip-ups experienced in Vegas will ultimately define the Grand Prix or the entire season, though, so the successes should be heralded and built upon if it is to become a regular addition to the calendar. If the organizers can do that, it’s safe to say that the sport will only grow in this part of the world and could become as big a part of the Strip as the casinos that serve as its backdrop.

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