Sunday, December 10, 2023

Can Alonso or Sainz beat Verstappen in Las Vegas?

New circuit, new circumstances and a question that floats in the air on the eve of the Las Vegas Grand Prix: Can Max Verstappen be vulnerable in this scenario? Fernando Alonso responds honestly. “I don’t believe it”. The three-time Red Bull champion has only missed three victories in the 20 races he has competed this season. And in the first two, in Arabia and Baku, he was beaten by another Red Bull, the one from Czech Perez.

Carlos Sainz He has the ‘honor’ of being the only driver who this year has surpassed Max with another car. The man from Madrid achieved it in Singapore and is convinced of being able to repeat the feat this Saturday on the ‘Strip’: “I have better hopes than recently because the circuit seems to suit us better than the last ones. Long straights, like in Monza, tight curves, like at Monza or Singapore. Maybe in the first two corners we are not so fast, but in the rest of the track, The Ferrari should be better and I hope that offers us a good opportunity,” he predicts.

(Formula 1 World Cup Classification)

“We have worked a lot on the simulator and I’m looking forward to seeing the safety car go around to see how much dust there is or the potholes, these are things you can feel, and also know if the track will be slippery,” adds Sainz, cautiously.

Max and urban circuits

If there is a common element in Verstappen’s three defeats this season, it is that they occurred on street circuits. He also suffered especially in Monaco, where he saved pole by just 0.056 over Alonso and Sunday was able to manage that minimal advantage to take his toughest victory of the course.

He Las Vegas circuitalternates long straights (the main one is 1.9 km long) and very slow and twisty areas. But without a doubt, what worries the teams most is the weather forecast, with temperatures that on these dates and at the time of the start of the race (10:00 p.m. local), are around 5º in the Nevada desert (10º according to the forecasts more optimistic). Pirelli has prepared for this scenario, with its softer range of compounds (C3, C4 and C5) and will play with the highest pressures. But Mario Isola has already warned that the drivers are going to have a lot of grip problems and that finding the right set-up will be essential.

“It’s quite cold, it hasn’t been that cold in any Grand Prix this year. The track is new and we have no experience with the asphalt temperatures and so on. These are completely new conditions for the set up of the car. I’m curious to see what effect the long straights will have,” warns Helmut Marko, who assumes that a “quite unpredictable” weekend awaits Red Bull.

(Formula 1 season schedule)

Alonso’s strong point

Alonso, due to his experience, is usually the best at adapting to a new track in just a few laps.. Will it be enough to reach 33 here? The Asturian rules it out right away: “It would be good to win a race and, especially, the first race in a place like this, but I don’t think it’s possible for it to happen.. I don’t think this is one of the favorite circuits for our package, I think it will be difficult,” he warns.

“With any new circuit it takes a little time to get familiar. It will also be interesting to see the grip levels, as this is always a factor to take into account on new tracks and how the low temperatures, which we are not used to, will influence. this year. Plus, the track is likely to be slipperier than usual,” he explains.

“I want to finish the season strong with as many points as possible. It is true that we are all thinking about 2024, but we want to make sure that we arrive at next season in the best possible position and with good momentum on our side,” he concludes.


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