Formula One is all-in on the United States with a race on the Las Vegas Strip added to the 2023 calendar as the most glamorous motorsports series in the world continues to expand its North American footprint.
The Bellagio, Caesars Palace and the MSG Sphere will be among the landmarks along the temporary street course built for a Saturday night race in November 2023. The race is a first for F1 in that the series will promote the event alongside Liberty Media Corp, the American parent company of F1.
The Las Vegas race will be the third stop in the United States next season for F1, which has raced at Circuit of the America's in Austin, Texas, since 2012 and in May will make its debut in Miami. Barring any shakeups, existing races in Mexico City and Montreal will bring F1 to North America five times next season.
"Iconic Las Vegas and Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsport, is the perfect marriage of speed and glamour," said Greg Maffei, President and CEO of Liberty Media. "Our confidence in this unique opportunity is evident in our decision to assume the promoter role for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
"The potential of Formula 1 has been well demonstrated over the last several seasons and the Las Vegas GP will only take it to the next level." Speculation surrounding a third race in Las Vegas that utilized the world famous Strip has swirled for more than a year and was at last confirmed Wednesday night in a lavish announcement made at the rooftop pool of The Cosmopolitan Hotel. Liberty acquired F1 in 2017 and has steadily grown the brand in the US through its marketing of the series and the wildly popular Netflix docuseries "Drive to Survive."
The fourth season of "DTS" dropped earlier this month just ahead of F1's season-opener in Bahrain, the first of back-to-back races held in the Middle East. F1 has been under scrutiny for some of those deals because of dubious human rights records in some of the host countries.
So it was a rocky return to Saudi Arabia for F1 last weekend when Yemen rebels attacked an oil depot during the first practice session on Friday. Smoke and flames could be seen in the backdrop of the racetrack as the oil depot was located only 11 kilometers (seven miles) from the racetrack.
Drivers met for more than four hours to determine if they were comfortable continuing with Sunday's race, which ultimately went off incident-free.
Still, F1 has been accused of overlooking serious human rights violations while collecting hefty sanctioning fees from the host nations. But in the case of the Las Vegas race, it will be F1 and Liberty backing the event.
F1 and Liberty are also partnering with Live Nation Entertainment and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on the race. The "founding partners" announced Wednesday night were Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Las Vegas.
MSG Sphere, Resorts World Las Vegas and The Venetian Resort were announced as presenting sponsors.
"This is an incredible moment for Formula 1 that demonstrates the huge appeal and growth of our sport with a third race in the U.S.," said Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of F1.
"Las Vegas is a destination known around the world for its excitement, hospitality, thrills, and of course, the famous Strip. There is no better place for Formula 1 to race than in the global entertainment capital of the world and we cannot wait to be here next year."
No date was given for the November race, but the Saturday night after Thanksgiving has been discussed. The 50-lap race is expected to stretch a street course that runs 3.8-miles. The circuit revealed Wednesday night included three main straights, 14 corners that includes a high-speed cornering sequence, and a single chicane section.
COTA drew more than 300,000 spectators to its three-day weekend last October and track president Bobby Epstein said the addition of Las Vegas to the F1 calendar shouldn't dilute his event.
"There's plenty to sustain this sport. What I like about what F1 is doing and what I think the fans will realize, is that each event is very different from the other and will be very unique," Epstein told The Associated Press.
"The other US races are going to be more about the city and the destination, and ours is going to be more about the event itself. I'm excited to go to Vegas, not just for F1, but because the city has so much more entertainment, outside and away from whatever the track will be.
"If I'm already a regular Vegas visitor, it will be more a question of am I choosing to go to F1 this year and not March Madness or a heavyweight fight?"