Grand Prix 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

Howdy y'all, the next race will be in the entertainment capital of the world, sin city, city that never sleeps, brightest city in the world. Las Vegas Nevada

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this is a realisation of the sports nearly 50 yr dream to get F1 on the Las Vegas strip, as those who followed the sport for a while will know that this isnt the 1st time we have been in Las Vegas as we had finales to the 1981 & 1982 that are remembered for all the wrong reasons. the ignominious Caesars Palace GP with the racetrack in the car park of the hotel. so bad it pops up in every list of the worst 5 circuits for F1 to race on. although whether this is a 1 off or fulfils its 10 yr contract remains to be scene because from the bits ive seen the locals aren't happen with the infrastructure needed for the race to take place

i think we are all concerned that this race will become where the on track become hugely overshadowed by what happens off track, especially with an opening ceremony, taking place on Wednesday evening, also this will be the first world championship race to be held on a Saturday for 38 years, since the 1985 South African GP at Kyalami. & alot has been made of racing on a Saturday although due to time differences unless your watching on the West coast & central America or Mexico. its business as usual & the race in the uk is no different to the Japanese gp starting at 6am on a sunday. although like buses you wait 38 years for a saturday race & 3 of the next 4 come along

i think the times are a bit weird not sure why Qualifying starting at the ridiculous local time of midnight, doesnt help the reputation that F1 is there for the fans, as i cant imagine going to a sporting event that finishes at after 1.30am. i think im right that the qualifying & the race will take place on the same day for the 1st time since japan 2005

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i like the track on paper ive driven it quite a few times on the F1 2023 game. its fast its flowing, yes its going to pass all the major Landmarks, but its also got a huge back straight potentially the 2nd biggest F1 has seen 1.9km then a chicane followed by 800m straight to the 1st corner, but so many circuits look good on paper & fail in reality. it even has a nod to the Caesars palace circuit i mentioned earlier. the track conditions are appartantly a big worry to all the teams because it weird turn of events in 6 weeks we could have 1 of the hottest F1 races in Qatar & now in Las Vegas they are concerned it could be coldest race since Canada in 1978. where they are expecting temperatures of 6c, which teams thing will make tyre warm up a nightmare & have issues with cold graining

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im looking forward to see Verstappen delaying the podium to stick his puffer coat on, if its anything like the 1978 Canadian GP podium
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i guess the only way to end this is VIVA LAS VEGAS & what stays Vegas wont be staying in Vegas
 

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While this year’s Red Bull is a strong car, it is not nearly is dominant as the 2014-2016 Mercedes cars
We obviously disagree on this so I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. However, I’ll note here that my conclusion isn’t based just on my qualitative opinion. It’s factually based on the actual point totals—namely on the size of the points margin between the winner of the Constructors’ title and the runner-up and also the points gap between the WDC winner and the highest placed driver in the standings who is in a different car (in each case being considered here this would be the 3rd place driver being that the winning constructor swept the first two WDC positions). The point margins for the Merc dominated seasons you noted (2014-2016) are as follows:

2014: Constructors’ margin—296; WDC—146 (19 races)
2015: Constructors’ margin—275; WDC—103 (19 races)
2016: Constructors’ margin—297; WDC—129 (21 races)

In order to make the point totals for RB’s dominant 2023 season directly comparable with the seasons listed above, it was necessary to make some adjustments. Twenty-one of the scheduled 22 races have been run thus far this season but only 19 races were run in 2014 and 2015. Therefore I have counted only the point totals from the first 19 races here (the RB was so dominant that I didn’t even have to bother expanding the totals to 21 races to compare with the 2016 season because RB had already topped Merc’s 2016 victory margin in just those first 19 races). Note that Merc is currently 2nd in the Constructors’ and Lewis is 3rd in the WDC and this was also the situation after 19 races. As a further adjustment, because sprint races weren’t conducted in the 2014-2016 seasons I subtracted the sprint points from the constructors’ and drivers’ totals. Because I’m counting only the first 19 races I didn’t include the Brazil sprint results because Brazil was the 20th race. [RB had double the sprint points over Merc, 70 to 35 (56 to 28 minus the Brazil sprint points), so the margin would be even greater if I had included these]. Finally, awarding a point for fastest lap didn’t begin until 2019 so I also subtracted these from the point totals (RB had 10, Merc had 5). So, with these necessary adjustments RB’s 2023 winning margins over the first 19 races are as follows:

2023: Constructors’ margin—327; WDC—245 (first 19 races only)

The greater margins for RB clearly show that their 2023 car was more dominant over the field than Merc was in any of their 3 dominant seasons listed above. Note also that while RB has lost just one race this season (with Max predicted to cruise to another win in the finale), Merc lost 3 each in 2014 and 2015, and 2 in 2016. Another point to consider here is that Lewis was partnered by Rosberg in those 3 seasons (in Lewis and Max, both teams are led by an elite driver so this particular aspect cancels itself out as being a factor in the equation). Unlike Checo, Rosberg (though not an elite driver like Lewis) was definitely a WDC caliber driver and any knowledgeable F1 fan knows that he was a notably better driver than Checo. The point here is that if, instead of Checo, Max was partnered by a driver of Rosberg's caliber then there’s little doubt that RB’s winning margin would have been even greater. And still, a lesser driver like Checo was able to finish 2nd in the WDC. Using the actual point totals and margins of victory provide an empirical, objective measure of a car’s dominance over its competitors and these clearly show that the 2023 RB was more dominant over a single season than any of the dominant Merc cars. One can make qualitative assessments and judgements but the point totals and margins of victory are facts, not opinions--and after all, the point totals are what determine who the champions are.
 
Unfortunately, whilst the gap in the constructors championship is a metric of dominance, it isn’t the only (or even the best) metric.

If the same second placed team is consistently finishing 3rd/4th, then the championship will be much closer than if there is competition for that second placed team. This season, whilst Red Bull have consistently been ahead, the second placed team has changed throughout the season, ranging from Aston Martin, to Mercedes, to Ferrari, to McLaren.

Gaps in the races, and gaps in qualifying give a better picture - although even that’s problematic - for instance, Mercedes have admitted to not running their car to its full potential in 2014, to avoid attempts by the FIA to slow them dow….
 
Gaps in the races, and gaps in qualifying give a better picture - although even that’s problematic - for instance, Mercedes have admitted to not running their car to its full potential in 2014, to avoid attempts by the FIA to slow them dow….
In this other thread I calculated the median gaps that the WCC in each season had over the competition In the races and competition. The 2014 Mercedes is second in both stats with a median qualifying advantage of 0.545 seconds and finishing a median 23.604 seconds ahead of the competitio.
 
Unfortunately, whilst the gap in the constructors championship is a metric of dominance, it isn’t the only (or even the best) metric.

If the same second placed team is consistently finishing 3rd/4th, then the championship will be much closer than if there is competition for that second placed team. This season, whilst Red Bull have consistently been ahead, the second placed team has changed throughout the season, ranging from Aston Martin, to Mercedes, to Ferrari, to McLaren.

Gaps in the races, and gaps in qualifying give a better picture - although even that’s problematic - for instance, Mercedes have admitted to not running their car to its full potential in 2014, to avoid attempts by the FIA to slow them dow….
I agree that there are other elements that are indicators of dominance but I don’t see any that show the level of dominance better than the points margin. Stating the obvious, points are the currency of the championships. The championships are awarded to the competitor that has accrued the most points (even if only a half point more as happened in the 1984 WDC), not the most wins or podiums, etc. (the latter only come into play as tie-breakers in the rare event of a points tie). Note that even if a team wins all of the races in a season it’s possible that it could still lose the Constructors’ championship. The winning point margin provides the best indicator of how competitive a season was. A low margin shows that it was a closely contested championship rather than a dominated one. Quite simply, the higher the winning point margin, the stronger the winning team was over its competitors. A point margin of near 300 or higher clearly shows extreme dominance. Inherent in (subsumed within) such a colossal point margin are various other indicators of extreme dominance such as most wins and podiums because it wouldn’t be possible to achieve such an astronomically high margin without having obtained the lions’ share of wins and podiums.

Your point re. the 2nd place team consistently finishing 3rd and 4th is irrelevant here (especially since neither of the four teams you noted were good enough to do so). Yes, under such circumstances a championship will be closer but that’s just one of the possible scenarios and not the one that exists in cases of extreme dominance such as seen in 2023. Again, that 4-way battle for second has no relevance re. RB’s dominance. All it shows is that, while they were close enough in performance to compete with each other for the runner-up spot, none of them were able to deal with RB’s supreme dominance. Regardless of whether Merc or Ferrari finish 2nd the gap to RB will still be immense.

I disagree that race winning margins and qualifying results give a better picture of a team’s dominance because both are dubious in this respect. It’s common for race leaders to manage their lead gap rather than just extending it to the maximum of what their car is capable of. For example, in many races that he has won, Lewis is well known for managing his lead gap just to a point where he was comfortably beyond DRS range in order to better look after his tires and reduce the stress and wear on his engine (and in numerous races this season Max had more in reserve and was certainly capable of winning by a greater margin if he had chose to press it). Race win margins are also routinely affected by safety car periods and red flags, especially ones that occur late in a race. Qualifying results also are not particularly good indicators of team dominance. There are a number of examples in which the team that bested the competition in qualifying didn’t win the championship and were even dominated in it. Race pace is what’s most important—a team with great race pace need only secure a decent grid position. For example, Lauda won his 1984 title without getting a single pole or even a front row starting position. In fact, McLaren won only 3 poles that season compared to 9 by Brabham. Yet McLaren dominated the season while Brabham finished only 4th in the Constructors’.

Finally, I must mention that I have noted a curious tendency among various acquaintances of mine and many others to grossly downplay the astronomical dominance of the RB this season while greatly playing-up the dominance of the Merc cars during their dominant years (I don’t mean you here, The Artist; your post wasn’t even about this topic). The disturbing reason why many of these people are doing this is rather obvious. For any who question the incredible magnitude of the RB car’s 2023 dominance, I’ll put it all in perspective here. RB has an unbelievable 430 point lead in the Constructors’ championship. Their lead margin alone is GREATER THAN THE POINT TOTAL OF THE SECOND PLACE TEAM! They have won an amazing 20 of 21 races! They have won 29 podiums, which is 20 more than any other team! If this isn’t an astounding, elite level of dominance then what the hell is! RB has done an incredible job (notably in creating a very special car that’s essentially unbeatable in the hands of a top driver) and deserve full credit for absolutely crushing the competition.
 
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While points difference is a great measure of a teams dominance, it also measures exactly the that the dominance of the full package of car, driver, and team operation. It doesn't, however, differentiate very well which of those components contributes the most to that domination. In principle, it is possible for all cars to be equal (e.g. in a spec series) and for team to dominate pure based on the quality of the drivers. Of course, the opposite can also occur with mediocre drivers dominating in an unbeatable car. It also doesn't tell us much of how the points were earned. Theoretically, we could have a season of nail biter races with the win being up for grabs up to the final straight in every race, but with the best car/driver just nabbing the win by the smallest margin. In such a season the best car/driver would come out dominating the championship.

To differentiate such scenario's it is sensible to look at other indicators. For example, an indicator that the car is a deciding factor in the dominance is that both drivers dominate. The fact that Perez end 2nd in the drivers championship points to the 2023 Red Bull being a dominant car. On the other hand that second place was only secured in the penultimate race. In the past dominant teams have wrapped up the 1-2 with several races to go. (E.g. in 2016 Rosberg and Hamilton had the 1-2 wrapped up in the US with 3 races to go, despite the driver's championship going till the last race.) Similar, the number of 1-2 finishes scored in a season is a strong indicator of how dominant a car is. In 2023, the Red Bull achieved 6 1-2 finishes, but in the context of history it only puts it 8th, in 2015 Mercedes scored an insane 12 1-2s over the season (and 11 in the year before). Similarly, one could count the total number of podiums scored by a team in a season. With 30, this year's Red Bull is up there, but again only 5th in history, with the 2016 Mercedes team in first with 33 (followed by the 2015,2019, and 2014 seasons).

Red Bull's 2023 has been very lopsided with Verstappen scoring more than 2/3rd of the total points haul (enough to win the constructors championship on his own). Is this an indicator that Verstappen is a key factor in the dominance, possibly, but one can also ascribe this to Perez being kind of terrible this season. So, it may be good to also look at some indicators that do not depend on the weaker team mate as much. The median gap between the first car of the dominant team and the first (non-teammate) competitor in the race is such a measure (it also tells us something about how closely contested the individual races were). The median gap of the 2023 Red Bull to its closest competition was 12.534 s, which again is impressively dominant, but historically not as dominant as the 1988 McLaren, which finished a median 41.873 seconds ahead of its competition, or in more recent times the 2014 Mercedes which at a median finish 23.604 seconds ahead.

Looking at a variety of indicators, I think it is fair to conclude that Red Bull produced a very dominant car this year, with Verstappen taking many dominance records, including an astonishing 1000 laps lead, and 12 races won from pole. But, this is at least in part also due to Verstappen's almost robotic consistency capitalizing on his advantage. Looking at various indicators the 2023 Red Bull car, does not seem to be more dominant then some of F1's other legendary cars. To some degree, the record breaking points advantage over the season, is due to the strength of the competition. If you factor out, Verstappen, 2023 would have been a very exciting season with 7 different winners, and a closely fought championship, Red Bull might still have won, but probably not with the margin that it did.

[...]

Finally, I must mention that I have noted a curious tendency among various acquaintances of mine and many others to grossly downplay the astronomical dominance of the RB this season while greatly playing-up the dominance of the Merc cars during their dominant years [...]

Similarly, I see the curious tendency of people to down play the 2014-2016 Mercedes dominance. For most of those years, the competition didn't stand a chance to grab pole or win the race, unless there was some mechanical failure or driver error. In 2016 Mercedes would have won all races on pace, was it not for Hamilton and Rosberg crashing in Spain, or Hamilton's engine failure/Rosberg's turn 1 incident in Malaysia. In qualifying, the Mercedes was a median half second ahead over this era. At least in 2023 we had a variety of teams on pole, and regular on track over takes for the lead.
 
Similarly, I see the curious tendency of people to down play the 2014-2016 Mercedes dominance. For most of those years, the competition didn't stand a chance to grab pole or win the race, unless there was some mechanical failure or driver error. In 2016 Mercedes would have won all races on pace, was it not for Hamilton and Rosberg crashing in Spain, or Hamilton's engine failure/Rosberg's turn 1 incident in Malaysia. In qualifying, the Mercedes was a median half second ahead over this era. At least in 2023 we had a variety of teams on pole, and regular on track over takes for the lead.
both were crap, but at we had competition & we had 2 title deciders in 3 years, if i was to say i would say mercedes was prost/senna but we are currently are in schumacher/barrichello & Vettel/Webber era

dominant cars are ok if you have to 2 level drivers
 
As others have pointed out, using race pace as an indicator can easily be skewed. In both 1988 and 2016 both drivers in the team were pushing to win which as a consequence caused them both to driver more quickly. Verstappen has rarely been challenged during a race which has allowed him to driver very much within himself and the capabilities of the car. Vettel did much the same in 2013, he was often 2 seconds ahead after the first lap and then slowly drifted away from the rest of the field. I also have vague memories of Senna in the McLaren often slowing up the last lap or two as there was little point in putting any stress on the car as the win was in the bag.

It is safe to say that Max have driven fantastically well in 2023, with a car which suited his style and was significantly better than any other team managed to produce. I doubt we will ever get to know why Perez wasn't able to extract the same performance as Verstappen, but again, this is not unique, look at Piquet and Rebaque in 1981, Senna and Berger in 1991, or Mansell and Patrese in 1992. What is clear in all of those cases is that the one driver has more ability to race a car than the other. Ditto Max and Sergio.
 
FB Berger was always hired as a "second" driver to Senna, and (just like all of Senna's teammates) had no chance in qualifying against him. However, the gap in the championship owes an awful lot to Berger's luck in the races - Berger retired from 7 races (from memory, I think that most of these were either engine, or gearbox failures), whilst Senna suffered from unreliability once during the season.

It was this, metronomic, reliability, that won Senna the championship in 1991 - rather than his domination (even though he did win more races than anyone else).
 
But Gerhard was never as fast at Ayrton, and has admitted as much - Gerhard Berger explains why he struggled to match former team-mate Ayrton Senna

I'm sure Bottas thought he could challenge Hamilton when he arrived at Mercedes, but admitted that he couldn't after he left for Alfa - Valtteri Bottas admits his five seasons with Lewis Hamilton were 'exhausting'. And Nico Rosberg had to dig so deep to beat Lewis in 2016 he retired after the end of the season, whilst Lewis just carried on afterwards winning more and more.

Regardless of "luck", "circumstances", "reliability", some drivers are simply better than others. And I haven't mentioned Vettel and Webber. Mark's ego will never allow him to admit that Sebastian was a better driver than he was. "Not bad for a number 2" stands up as one of the most crass comments by an F1 driver when you know the truth behind events that weekend at Silverstone. The harsh truth is that Mark simply could not drive the car as fast as Sebastian.
 
that was the difference between bottas & hamilton. perez is the same & i assume berger was but i didnt live through it. that he was good enough to beat him over 1 weekend but over a season talent will overcome it
 
Berger and Patrese were solid, reliable drivers who on their day were quick but never ultra quick. Rebaque on the other hand was available at short notice to take over after Zunino was dropped and somehow did enough to get a full season.
 
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