Mercedes to Ban F1 Team from Las Vegas Casinos, Aston Martin May Follow Suit
Posted on: November 13, 2023, 07:40h.
Last updated on: November 14, 2023, 09:02h.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix, Formula One’s (F1) much-ballyhooed return to Sin City, commences this week, with the race slated for Saturday night. Some teams are already taking steps to keep drivers and employees focused on the task at hand.
Mercedes team owner Toto Wolff said in a recent media interview that he’s forbidding team members from enjoying the infamous nightlife in Las Vegas, including the city’s plethora of casinos.
I’ve never been to Vegas,” said Wolff in the interview. “But we’re going to keep everybody out of the casinos. I don’t play, so I’m going to make sure that nobody plays.”
It’s not clear if “everybody” includes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who pilot the 44 and 63 cars, respectively. Aston Martin is another team that could follow Mercedes with a casino ban while in Las Vegas.
“There will be a lot of distractions,” acknowledged Aston Martin boss Mike Krack. “It is important to focus when it is the right moment.”
Casinos May Be Least of F1’s Concerns
While the Las Vegas Grand Prix has generated considerable buzz, there have been some missteps along the way.
Notably, the race is scheduled for 10 p.m. PST in an effort to accommodate the series’ slew of European fans. That’s stoking concerns that the Pirelli-manufactured tires used by F1 teams may not be able to adapt to cold temperatures. The forecast calls for 52 degrees on race night. Pirelli’s Mario Isola anticipates driver complaints about the tires but said the manufacturer can’t make a special tire for Las Vegas, and he will handle driver gripes.
Still, that could bleed into competitive concerns. The 2023 F1 title was clinched several weeks ago by Dutchman Max Verstappen — his third consecutive championship. With the title decided before F1 arrived in Las Vegas, there’s been chatter that fans may be unwilling to shell out big bucks on Strip hotel rooms to see a race that’s meaningless to the championship.
While there’s been ample speculation about declining room rates and plunging ticket prices, analysts say the former is a scenario that pertains mostly to mid- and lower-tier hotels. Higher-end properties on the Strip are reportedly booked solid and have extended record amounts of casino credit to incoming patrons before the race.
Mercedes Casino Ban an Interesting Ploy
There’s no denying that Las Vegas has more than its share of “distractions” compared to other major U.S. cities. But the city isn’t the only one on the F1 schedule home to gaming venues.
The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most storied events in series history, and the Singapore Grand Prix takes place near two of the Asia-Pacific region’s marquee casino resorts, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa. It’s unclear if F1 teams impose casino bans when visiting those jurisdictions.
Likewise, the Stanley Cup champion Las Vegas Golden Knights have 41 home games per year, and there’s little evidence suggesting NHL teams bar staff from going to casinos when they visit Sin City.
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