Tales from the paddock: Return to Las Vegas and talent spotting in Valencia

Tales from the paddock: Return to Las Vegas and talent spotting in Valencia

Las Vegas is back on the F1 itinerary for the penultimate race of the season, but first the Mercedes-AMG talent scouts were on the lookout for the stars of the future at the Young Drivers Test in Valencia.

F1 returns to Sin City: Las Vegas Strip, here we come!
After an absence of 41 years, F1 is returning to Las Vegas this weekend. ‘Sin City’ first hosted the highest echelon of motorsport in 1981 and 1982 when the event was designated the ‘Caesars Palace Grand Prix’. The 3.650 km Caesars Palace Grand Prix Circuit was laid out on the car park of the hotel and casino of the same name. The first of these two races was won by Alan Jones in a Williams and the second by Michele Alboreto in a Tyrrell. The comeback race this coming weekend will be contested at a different venue: the 6.201 km Las Vegas Strip Circuit runs through the middle of the city and along its most iconic thoroughfare, the Las Vegas Strip. The high-speed track features 17 corners (eleven left-handers and six right-hander), is driven anti-clockwise and is the second longest on this year’s F1 race calendar. In addition to the unfamiliar nature of the track, the drivers and teams can expect several other challenges in Las Vegas, including the ambient temperatures. These could drop to single Celsius digits overnight, making it extremely difficult to get the tyres into the optimum working window. To complicate matters further, the track surface is brand new and the team has not yet had the opportunity to assess it fully. As the Las Vegas GP is also a night race (starts at 22:00 local time, with qualifying having taken place as late as midnight), the team is working to a schedule not dissimilar to that of the Japanese GP in Suzuka.

Lewis and George feature in short video for new IWC Collection
In the run-up to the Las Vegas Grand Prix, Team Partner IWC Schaffhausen had the help of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in unveiling two new wrist watches. The team’s Official Engineering Partner presented two special versions of the Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41 for Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team in a short video which shows Lewis and George on their way to Las Vegas, stopping off at a specially fabricated IWC roadside boutique.

IWC and Mercedes-AMG organize ‘Speed City’ spectacle in the desert
On Tuesday evening, Lewis and George, together with Mercedes-AMG and the Official Engineering Partner of the Team IWC Schaffhausen, kicked off the Las Vegas Grand Prix race week with a spectacular event in the desert just outside of Las Vegas. Both drivers did a few laps in the Mercedes-AMG GT Coupé and were accompanied by a breathtaking drone and light show that lit up the Las Vegas sky. “Tonight’s event was spectacular and a lot of fun,” said George Russell. “A fantastic way to kick off the Las Vegas race week.”

22 talented youngsters at AMG Young Driver Test Valencia: Impressive performances all round as two go through
The AMG Young Driver Test took place last week in the framework of the AMG Racing Series. The sessions at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo just outside Valencia were attended by 22 talented youngsters in the 17 25 age bracket, all of whom hold a Gold or Silver FIA classification. The participants, who come from all over the world, were coached on site by a team of Mercedes-AMG Performance drivers, each of whom was assigned to a different group. To ensure optimum comparability, the various Mercedes-AMG GT3 car were matched for weight and fitted with identical Pirelli tyres. The Haupt Racing Team (HRT) nominee, 24-year-old Frank Bird from Cumbria in England, and the 21-year-old Italian Lorenzo Ferrari, who drove a WINWARD Racing AMG GT3, came out on top against strong competition. These two successful candidates will now share a cockpit in the Gulf 12 Hours – the season finale of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli – in Abu Dhabi in December. The car will be entered by the GruppeM Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing team, and their professional co-driver will be Lucas Auer (AUT), a member of the coaching team in Valencia.

Lucas Auer, Mercedes-AMG Performance driver: “The AMG Young Driver Test in Valencia was a great event and the quality of the participants was extremely high. Lorenzo Ferrari and Frank Bird did a really excellent job. I already knew the track from personal experience, but on arrival, I familiarised myself once again with the current conditions and was able to pass on my strategy to Lorenzo, who was in my team. He followed my instructions to the letter and was competitive right from the word go. Now I’m really looking forward to competing with the two of them in Abu Dhabi, and I hope that we acquit ourselves well as a team.”

Lorenzo Ferrari, AMG Young Driver Test participant: “I’m very happy that I was able to come out on top in the Young Driver Test. It was my very first time driving in Valencia. It was tough competing against all the other talent on display but, with the guidance and help of Lucas Auer, I managed OK. We only had one day to get ourselves prepared, to analyse the data and videos and to get the maximum out of the car. The WINWARD Racing engineers and mechanics did a great job. Abu Dhabi will be a long and demanding race in hot conditions. But it’s a unique opportunity for me. I’m looking forward to it.”

Frank Bird, AMG Young Driver Test participant: “I am very happy with the result of the Young Driver Test. It’s an honour to have been given this opportunity by HRT. I felt very comfortable with the team. We worked hard, focused on ourselves and ultimately put in a great performance. Many thanks to the whole team and to Luca Stolz, who helped me a lot as my driver coach. I’m looking forward to competing in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the Gulf 12 Hours. In Lorenzo Ferrari and Lucas Auer, we have a good line-up and I hope to bring home the best possible result.”

Mercedes-AMG off to winning start at motorsport extravaganza in Macau
With a week still to go before the FIA GT World Cup in Macau, Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing has already registered its first victory of this year’s motorsport festival on the tricky Guia Circuit. Darryl O’Young (HKG) in the #55 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Craft Bamboo Racing won the eight-lap Greater Bay Area GT Cup, which is contested on the tight streets of this major conurbation in China. Third place went to Chien Shang Chang from Taiwan in the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of MP Racing. In the preceding GT4 race, William Cheung (HKG) of Team TRC was the best placed of the Mercedes-AMG contingent in sixth place. The 70th Macau Grand Prix culminates this coming weekend with the FIA GT World Cup, a meeting of the GT3 world elite. Four Mercedes-AMG Performance drivers will be competing to bring a fifth consecutive victory to Affalterbach: Maro Engel (GER), Jules Gounon (AND), Daniel Juncadella (ESP) and Raffaele Marciello (SUI). It will be Marciello’s last appearance as a Mercedes-AMG Performance driver after seven successful years with the brand. A fifth Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be entered by TORO Racing, with Marchy Lee (HKG) at the wheel.

News snippets: Results and Facts & Social Media News

Super Taikyu Series:
The season finale of the 2023 Super Taikyu Series took place at Fuji Speedway. The Japanese quartet of Naoya Gamou, Tatsuya Kataoka, Hibiki Taira and Ryuta Ukai (Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing team Rookie Racing) finished the four-hour race over 134 laps in third place overall, a result that was enough for the team to take the 2023 title in the top ST-X class.

GT4 Italy:
in the season finale at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, Slovenia’s Matej Kosic in the number 20 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of LEMA Racing saw the chequered flag in third place in both races to earn two podium appearances.

Gulf Procar:
Keith Gatehouse (USA) claimed two class podiums on the second race weekend at the Dubai Autodrome. Driving the number 8 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of GPM Racing, he finished second in his class in both races and fourth overall.

Mercedes-AMG Motorsport

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