Las Vegas GP diary as Horner’s birthday luck kicks off before the racing

Christian Horner’s luck began just hours before the first practice session for the Las Vegas Grand Prix as he took part in a PokerStars charity poker tournament for a few hands. The Red Bull boss won an all-in call on his first hand with a pair of aces, beating a pair of kings.

Former F1 driver David Coulthard also joined the likes of Friends sitcom legend Hank Azaria and a Love Island celebrity for the poker tournament. Horner, who was celebrating his 50th birthday on Thursday, was in a relaxed mood throughout the day and appeared in the hospitality lounges less than half an hour before FP1 was due to begin.

Happy Birthday was sung to the Red Bull team principal from various suites as he entertained guests at ease with both Championships already wrapped up.

Haas made an early appearance at the top of the pit walk prior to the first practice session, with two members of their team tasked with capturing images of Max Verstappen’s car. DJ Steve Aoki, who performed during Wednesday’s opening show, was one of many high-profile personalities in attendance, as a guest of Ferrari. But those numbers are sure to increase as the weekend goes on.

The impressive paddock consists of four stories and the incredible rooftop bar has views of the track, luminous skyline and Sphere.

Red Bull guests were treated to a mock pit wall, driving simulators and a DJ in their brand new club suite. In contrast, Mercedes shipped over all of their trophies to display at their entrance.

On the track, there was little to shout about as FP1 was halted after just eight minutes. A loose drain cover severely damaged the floor of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and he was unable to restart his car. The session was completely called off as organisers desperately attempted to repair the track, pouring cement down the hole.

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Fans left in their thousands as the four-hour wait for FP2 dragged on. This was pushed back for a further two hours to give time to check all of the grid walk – but by that point all the remaining supporters were booted out.

A final note of this diary entry has to go to Vegas’ inventive Uber taxi system. If you order an Uber to any hotel on the strip the navigation system will automatically take you to the same place – a large car pack around 15 minutes away from the main destinations.

At the car park there are six cleverly orchestrated queues, each leading to buses that drop guests off at selected hotels by driving through back roads that are only open to buses. That’s certainly one way to ease congestion.

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