An extremely late start time didn’t stop spectators from watching the first Formula 1 Grand Prix in Las Vegas.
ESPN said Tuesday that 1.3 million people watched the hugely entertaining race that Max Verstappen won. The race began at 1 a.m. ET – 10 p.m. in Las Vegas – and drew the third-largest Formula One crowd of the season in the United States.
The race started so late for several reasons. The total darkness allowed the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding areas to be shown in all their illuminated glory, and the late evening start time in the United States allowed for a Sunday morning broadcast in Europe and daytime broadcasts in other parts of the world.
As expected, the Las Vegas market recorded the highest rating in the United States at 7.4. Los Angeles was the second largest market at 1.5. If you’re looking for a comparison to other American motorsports, the NASCAR Cup Series season finale on Nov. 5 drew 3.2 million viewers on NBC on a Sunday afternoon, and the 2023 Indianapolis 500 had just under 5 million viewers.
Only the Miami Grand Prix (1.96 million on a Sunday afternoon) and the Monaco Grand Prix (1.79 million on a Sunday morning) averaged more viewers than the Las Vegas race this season. ESPN says this season is the second most-watched season on U.S. television after 2022, and its races averaged 1.12 million viewers.
Don’t be surprised if the Las Vegas Grand Prix starts earlier next season. Numerous team employees commented on the difficulty of the weekend schedule and there could be an internal push to hold the race a few hours earlier.
From the Telegraph:
“There will be many lessons to learn,” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner after the race. “One of the things to consider is the running schedule because it has been brutal on the team and all the men and women behind the scenes.
“Everyone leaves Las Vegas feeling a little shitty! In one way or another it was a brutal weekend for everyone behind the scenes and I think we need to think about how we can improve this going forward.
“I think you should run it a little earlier in the evening because you’re never going to make all the TV viewers completely happy. This is an American breed. If it was on at 8 p.m. or something in the evening, it would just be a little more pleasant for the men and women who work behind the scenes.”
Those who watched Formula 1 regularly in 2023 were rewarded with many Verstappen victories. He extended his record-breaking season with his 18th win in 21 races and is favorite to win the season finale in Abu Dhabi.