Formula 1 drivers have again raised concerns about the track surface at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit, with Fernando Alonso likening the race to “half dry, half wet conditions”.
Coming into the weekend, the drivers and teams were already braced to encounter grip being at a premium amid the combination of a repaved surface and cooler temperatures.
But aside from the expected factors, the issue at the brand-new street venue was also exasperated by the exclusion of any support races during the weekend’s racing bill and the reopening of the public stretches of roads on the layout during daytime hours.
Alonso, who warned earlier in the week the drivers “will not have two laps the same” due to track evolution, believes Lando Norris’ crash was related to the slippery surface.
“The only thing is the level of grip we touched yesterday. I think it is extremely low. I know it’s the same for everybody but on a street circuit sometimes it is a danger factor that we need to wait as well,” he said.
“I think Lando crash quite hard into Turn 12. I don’t know if he was alone or with another car, but it seems that we are running like half dry, half wet conditions and on a street circuit, a bit strange.”
Daniel Ricciardo reiterated his stance that new additions to the Formula 1 calendar should replicate the procedures undertaken at the Jeddah circuit in Saudi Arabia.
The Australian also believes that bringing the session start times forward would further minimise the problems experienced on F1’s inaugural visit to the latest Las Vegas track.
“Yeah, definitely it was sketchy,” Ricciardo agreed. “And if other drivers are saying it, we were really sketchy! I don’t know what they can do with track opening times but if they do have flexibility, yes. I think for everyone’s health and safety, bring it forward.
“Yeah, maybe a bit of temperature but also just everyone would be operating with a little bit more juice in the tank so that’s that.
“Maybe they could do something to the surface. In Saudi they’d like pressure wash it or whatever. So maybe they could do some treatment to it to make it a bit more abrasive and help the grip for the race.”
Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz compared the race restart on Lap 28 to “driving on ice” and contends the speed of the Safety Car should be increased to avoid dangerous situations.
Asked how tricky the restart was on cold tyres, Sainz answered: “Turn 1 on the SC restart was like driving on ice. We need to find a solution, I think, to make the SC quicker in certain scenarios, because it was, absolutely… I cannot explain it to you guys, how it feels to go at 340 kph and knowing that when you’re going to hit the brakes that thing is not going to stop. Very tricky.”
While Sainz acknowledged the track configuration produced an exciting race, the Spaniard asserts that the left-handed Turn 12 corner that leads onto the 1.9km blast down the Strip should be tweaked to improve both safety and the overall racing spectacle.
“Decent racing track for racing,” Sainz added. “For me there is Turn 12 that is maybe a bit too dangerous and with the wall coming towards you.
“I think we can do a better shaping, or a better shape of that corner, also to improve a bit the racing, because it’s very difficult to follow. So, hopefully it gets better for next year.”