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By John Floyd

Motorsport columnist

FLOYD ON F1: House took more than it paid out in Vegas

The on-track battles did not quite make up for all the shenanigans around the race.

This week marks my penultimate F1 article for The Citizen Motoring, with Abu Dhabi ending the 2023 season and my career as I slide into retirement.

I am of course a little sad, but after last weekend’s Las Vegas, I must add I am somewhat relieved as I will no longer have to experience the predicted objective of Liberty Media’s “exciting” move to take Formula 1 from being the apical point of global motorsport to just another form of American sports show.

Before you all accuse me of being an old traditionalist, which I do not deny, my gripe is not with the racing, as it certainly produced one of the most exciting Grand Prix of 2023.

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F1 circus

My personal dislike was the ridiculous hype and the apparently vital presence of myriad celebrities emulating a swarm of locusts settling on the F1 grid and filling the pit boxes. And of course the all-important television images of said stars over the duration of the event, no matter what the action was on track.

The site of F1TV’s Will Buxton having to emulate the actions of a Springbok front row forward in an effort to reach the front end of the grid, not to mention the melee team members had to endure as they readied their cars for the start, was in my opinion ludicrous!

The event was initially besot with several issues. One being the fact that cast iron water valve covers were vulnerable to the massive suction developed by the ground effect F1 cars, as witnessed in the incidents involving the Alpine of Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and then the classic car driver’s parade featuring older vehicles, one dropping copious amounts of oil just ahead of Max Verstappen’s starting box.

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Ferrari suffers

The result of those valve covers not only led to a hectic and very expensive rebuild of both cars, the Ferrari suffered most, but it was also to curtail FP1 after just nine minutes. This led to a two and a half hour delay before FP2 and strangely the removal of all the ticket holding spectators, who were compensated with a $200 merchandise voucher, but not a readmission ticket.

The damage to the two cars was also to become an issue as the repair costs were to be borne by the teams concerned even though caused by a track issue and adding insult to injury some of the parts damaged exceeded the regulation annual allocation and led to Sainz receiving a 10-place grid penalty, a heavy blow as qualifying had resulted in a front row lockout for the Scuderia with Leclerc taking pole and Sainz second.

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Good battles

The circuit featured slow corners and flat out straights producing a new style of racing for F1, but I must agree it certainly provided incredible battles throughout the field. The last-minute overtake of rival Sergio Perez by Charles Leclerc gave him second spot in the race. But the Mexican gained enough points to take second place in the driver’s championship.

My verdict, an exciting race but overall somewhat of a farce!

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