F1 News and Notes: Las Vegas GP Preview Show Should Be Epic

Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix organizers have announced plans for a star-studded concert ahead of the race weekend.

The starting grid is set to be transformed with seven LED stages installed, along with a lighting display, lasers, fireworks and a drone show.

Among the performers will be Journey, Keith Urban, Swedish House Mafia and will.i.am, while the Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil will also have a presence. All 20 drivers are scheduled to be present and will be introduced to the fans in attendance as part of the culmination of the concert.

The preview is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, November 15. The F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix is Saturday night, November 19. Start time for the race will be 1 a.m. ET (10 p.m., local time in Las Vegas).

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Marta Garcia won the F1 Academy championship for women this season.

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F1 Academy Champ Gets FRECA Seat

F1 Academy champion Marta Garcia will graduate into the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine in 2024.

Garcia was the inaugural champion in the all-female F1 Academy this season and she will remain with the Prema team in FRECA, with her seat fully funded by contributions from F1 Academy, Prema, chassis manufacturer Tatuus, and tire supplier Pirelli. In another tweak for 2024 the financial sum each F1 Academy driver has to bring for her seat will be reduced from €150,000 to €100,000 (approx. $120,000).

“F1 Academy is all about progression and creating more opportunities for young women across motorsport, so to offer a fully funded seat in FRECA for our inaugural champion is a significant moment,” said F1 Academy managing director Susie Wolff. “The fact that she will also continue to race with Prema, whom she has built a relationship with and are current team champions in this category, will also aid in her future development.”

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Oliver Bearman was fastest of five rookies taking part in FP1 in Mexico.

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F1 Newcomers Get FP1 Experience

There were a trio of F1 newcomers among a quintet of young drivers during opening practice on Friday in Mexico City.

Per a rule introduced in 2022, each team must run a rookie driver in two sessions through the course of a season, and half of the grid opted to check that box in Mexico City.

• Mercedes youngster Fred Vesti drove the W14

• Ferrari protégé Oliver Bearman linked up with Haas.

• Red Bull junior Isack Hadjar climbed aboard the AlphaTauri.

• They were joined by Alpine reserve Jack Doohan and Alfa Romeo back-up Théo Pourchaire, who both participated in sessions last year.

Bearman, only 18, was the fastest of the quintet, with the unfortunate Pourchaire effectively sidelined after being able to complete just a handful of installation laps due to a brake pedal problem.

Bearman will remain in the secondary category in 2024, ostensibly with current team Prema, where he will be joined by highly-rated Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli to create a formidable pairing. Elsewhere Williams protégé Franco Colapinto will join Formula 2 at the Abu Dhabi finale and compete in the championship full-time in 2024.

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Theo Pourchaire is leading the F2 championship with one weekend of racing remaining.

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Theo Pourchaire Mulls IndyCar Move

Formula 2 title leader Pourchaire, already confirmed as Alfa Romeo’s 2024 reserve once more, is seeking a full-time race program elsewhere to remain fresh.

The last two F2 champions, Oscar Piastri and Felipe Drugovich, sat out the season following their championship seasons to act as Formula 1 reserve drivers. The tactic worked for Piastri, who joined McLaren for 2023, though Aston Martin reserve Drugovich’s hopes have faded.

Pourchaire, though, wants to stay on top of his game and has thrown the idea of a move to IndyCar as a possible destination.

“It’s a priority for me, I want to drive, I want to keep myself busy and fit so let’s see,” said Pourchaire. “There are a few great championships. The best is to drive a car that is close to F1. For sure, nothing is really, really close to F1. F1 is really special, but the best is to drive a single seater that is really quick. Let’s see. IndyCar, Super Formula, maybe there’s other options I don’t know but let’s see.”

It is understood that Alfa Romeo sees Japan’s Super Formula as a more viable destination.

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Liam Lawson finished runner-up in the Japanese Super Formula championship.

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Liam Lawson Misses Out on Super Formula Title

Liam Lawson had to settle for the runner-up position in this year’s Super Formula championship.

Lawson, who started five Formula 1 races and scored two points for AlphaTauri as a stand-in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo, had a shot at the championship ahead of the double-header finale at Suzuka. Team Mugen driver Lawson was sixth in a first race halted early and not restarted because of a violent accident, before taking second in the second race. He finished ahead of Ritomo Miyata, but Miyata’s earlier lead meant the Japanese driver sealed the crown.

“It was great to get the Teams’ Championship, a shame we didn’t take the Drivers’ title as well, especially for my side of the garage who worked so hard and supported me so completely,” said Lawson. “The whole team have been absolutely fantastic from the first day I arrived, incredibly skilled and experienced plus they have a work ethic that I have not seen in any other junior series.”

Lawson is set to reprise his role as reserve driver for both Red Bull and AlphaTauri in 2024.

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The three-day Formula 1 Mexico Grand Prix attracted 400,000 fans in 2023.

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Mexico City Remains Popular

Mexico City’s Grand Prix remains among the best of the F1 season as an event, even if the on-track product is regularly a tad underwhelming.

Organizers reported a total of 152,000 spectators on race day which contributed to a weekend attendance of 400,000.

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