An extremely late start time didn’t dissuade viewers from watching the inaugural Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix.
ESPN said Tuesday that 1.3 million people watched the very entertaining race won by Max Verstappen. The race began at 1 a.m. ET — 10 p.m. in Las Vegas — and drew the third-biggest Formula 1 audience of the season in the United States.
The race started so late for a couple reasons. The total darkness allowed the Las Vegas strip and surrounding areas to be shown in all their lit up glory and the late-night start time in the U.S. allowed for a Sunday morning broadcast in Europe and during the day for other parts of the world.
As you would expect, the Las Vegas market posted the highest rating in the United States at 7.4. Los Angeles was the No. 2 market at 1.5. If you're looking for a comparison to other American motorsports, the Nov. 5 NASCAR Cup Series season finale drew 3.2 million viewers on a Sunday afternoon on NBC 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 that this season is the second-most viewed season on U.S. TV behind 2022 and its races have averaged 1.12 million viewers.
Don't be surprised if next season's Las Vegas Grand Prix starts earlier. Numerous team personnel commented about the difficulty of the weekend schedule and there could be an internal push to have the race a few hours earlier.
"There are going to be many lessons to learn," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said after the race. "One of the things to look at is the running schedule because it has been brutal for the team and all the men and women behind the scenes.
"Everybody is leaving Vegas slightly f*****! One way or another it has been a brutal weekend for everyone behind the scenes, and I think we need to look at how we can improve that for the future.
"I think run it a little earlier in the evening because you are never going to keep every television audience totally happy. This is an American race. If you run it 8 p.m. in the evening or something like that it would just be a bit more comfortable for the men and women working behind the scenes."
Those who have watched F1 regularly in 2023 have been treated to a lot of Verstappen victories. He extended his record-setting season with his 18th win in 21 races in Las Vegas and is the favorite to win the season finale in Abu Dhabi.