The qualifying rounds for Friday and the race on Saturday will kick off at 10 pm, Nevada time. There’s a possibility of the race extending past midnight, especially if there is a red flag delay requiring a restart.
Historical weather statistics indicate ambient temperatures could fall below 10 degrees Celsius in mid-November. In some instances, the mercury level may even drop as low as five degrees. These extreme weather conditions would undoubtedly place a significant emphasis on ensuring the tyres are in optimal condition, particularly during qualifying rounds, at the race start, and following safety car restarts.
Mercedes‘ trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, speaking to F1 Initiative, explained, “It’ll just depend on exactly how cold it is. If the track is down in single figures, that’s often a region where you go winter testing.” Shovlin further noted that with such low temperatures, it’s incredibly challenging to get the tyres switched on, which could result in graining issues. These conditions would necessitate a delay until temperatures rise. “So actually having to sort of race and qualify in those conditions, it will be interesting.”
Shovlin added that the team is currently identifying potential risks associated with the new circuit and establishing contingency plans. AlphaTauri‘s chief race engineer, Jonathan Eddolls, supports these sentiments, stating, “The temperatures are going to be probably one of the biggest challenges. I think we’re expecting circa 10C of ambient, so very much like the winter test.”
Eddolls reflected on previous experiences of winter tests in Barcelona under similar temperature conditions. He admitted, “But definitely it’s quite a step away in terms of where we’re going to be operating the current tyres to what we’re used to in a normal season.”
The cool weather could be an advantage for the struggling Haas team, plagued by persistent high tyre temperatures this season, according to director of engineering Ayao Komatsu. Despite welcoming the cold conditions, Komatsu acknowledged that it would be a significant challenge for his team. He noted, “It’s a very different temperature window, so we’ve got to get the tyres to work. But if I had to choose hot or cold, I’d choose cold conditions at this minute! I think it’ll be a big challenge for us, especially our team with the tools we’ve got in terms of pre-event simulation, more limited compared with let’s say Mercedes.”