“It will be a major technical challenge for both the teams and us, as we head into this race with no real references apart from simulation,” Isola warned this week.
“Nobody has ever actually driven the 6.12-kilometre Las Vegas Strip circuit before, which is second only to Spa in terms of overall length this year, characterised by three straights and 17 corners.
“The surface will be a mix of the usual street asphalt, especially on the actual Strip, as well as other parts that have been completely re-asphalted for the occasion; adding another unknown element.”
With no support races featuring on the weekend’s programme, grip will come at a premium for drivers on F1’s first visit to the Las Vegas Strip.
Streets will be reopened to normal traffic for large parts of the day, cleaning Pirelli rubber laid down onto the tarmac creating further difficulties for teams and drivers.
“We’re expecting the cars to run quite low levels of downforce, similar to Baku or indeed Monza: hitting a high top speed will be key to being competitive,” Isola added.
“Those long straights also make it harder to warm up tyres in qualifying, as well as keep them in the right window: the same challenge as seen in Baku, which will probably be more pronounced in Las Vegas.”
Pirelli has selected the C3, C4 and C5 tyres for the Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend – the softest compounds available.
Speaking at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Isola noted that the upcoming race will prove a “step into the unknown” for all involved.
“It is a step into the unknown, for everybody I believe. Las Vegas will be cold, it’s a street circuit.” he acknowledged. “So we were working with the teams and we asked them for simulations in advance to try to understand how much energy the layout of the circuit is putting on tyres.
“We had information from the companies that are making the tarmac in order to understand how abrasive is the tarmac and which is the level of grip we can expect. But still, a lot of question marks are on Las Vegas. We decided to use the three softest compounds in the range to try to generate grip.
“I can imagine a lot of track evolution and very low grip. So they will complain! It’s fine. We will manage also this situation. But it’s a big unknown. Fast track, long straights, high speed and all conditions that are quite difficult to manage.”