Las Vegas F1 track ‘a lot of fun’ but passing may be hard

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed his first experience of the new Las Vegas Strip Circuit but is concerned overtaking may prove difficult during Saturday’s race.

Formula 1 held its first practice session on the track on Wednesday night, though it was cut short after a valve cover on the Strip caused significant damage to two cars. Practice eventually resumed two-and-a-half hours behind schedule in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Although the grip levels on the new circuit proved low as expected, drivers found conditions improved over the extended, 90-minute second session. Hamilton said he enjoyed his first proper run on the “massively challenging” course.

“It’s incredibly fast and it’s a lot of fun,” said the Mercedes driver. “I had so much fun today.

“I’m so glad that we did get to run again. Obviously it’s not great in P1 what happened but they did a great job to fix it. And [it was] an interesting session.”

The combination of low temperatures, low downforce levels and the lack of high-speed corners meant several drivers had problems with their tyres graining, including Hamilton.

“We’re at really low downforce so you’re sliding through a lot of the low-speed corners and also the high-speed corners,” he said. “You don’t have a huge amount of load because you need the straight-line speed. And then the temperatures I’m sure are having a big effect on it.”

But while several drivers have said the track’s straights, including the enormous two-kilometre run down the Strip, should encourage passing, Hamilton is doubtful how well it will work.

“Even though they’ve got the long straights, there’s not really a lot of places to overtake, because the grip is so low,” he said. “And the tow is not huge, a bit like Monza when you’re behind people, because you got the small wing, there’s not a lot of drag.

“So it’s kind of interesting. In qualifying I think position will be really important and then obviously degradation is going to be key. But I had a blast.”

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