The Las Vegas Sphere is undergoing some operational changes this weekend ahead of the Grand Prix on the streets of Sin City. The world’s largest LED screen will not be showing any overwhelmingly blue, red or yellow panels during sessions on the track.
This news follows concerns that drivers could mistake the light emitted from the massive structure for yellow, red or blue flags from the marshalls, creating dangerous levels of confusion as they flash past the Sphere at high speed.
Fortunately for F1 and the organisers, the Las Vegas Sphere will still be utilised during the race weekend. Since the idea for the event was first conceived it was a part of Liberty Media’s mission to utilise the eye-catching structure for advertising and broadcasting purposes.
This intention has been confirmed by Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, who explained ahead of the weekend: “We have a long-term relationship with the Sphere, and I think we will have more programming in place [in future years].
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“Partly because we didn’t know if the Sphere would be done, and partly we were hustling to get ourselves done, that combination made it hard to programme for this year. But I think in future years, we’ll have a lot more going on.”
As with many of F1’s street circuits, it is possible for the drivers to become distracted, although, with the bright lights of Las Vegas never more than a few metres from the drivers, this event poses even more of a challenge in that regard. The Sphere is a major contributor to these concerns, given how visible it will be from the cockpit.
Joel Fisher, the man behind the partnership between the Las Vegas GP and the Sphere, told Autosport: “It’s all safe. Obviously, we’re going to comply with the FIA’s requirements and make sure.
“They’ve come here at night and tested different colours and different things on there. And we know what we shouldn’t show. So we have a showrunner to do all that. There’s going to be some live footage, there’s helmets, there’s driver cards, there’s ads, there’s all those types of things, and some other surprises.”
The Sphere’s usage will add to the glitz and glamour already showcased during Thursday’s opening ceremony. All 20 drivers were introduced to the Las Vegas crowd for the first time as they were paraded on top of giant plinths on the pit straight, accompanied by an equally memorable lights show.