What was the coldest Formula 1 race of all time?

Published on
10 Nov 2023
Est. reading time
2 Min

The Las Vegas Grand Prix could run the current record-holder for F1’s coldest-ever race pretty close

As Formula 1 prepares to head back to Las Vegas for the first time in four decades, a lot of the pre-race conversation is dominated by just how cold the Grand Prix could be.
Early forecasts suggest temperatures could drop to as low as 6°C / 43°F during the weekend. Don't forget that it is a night race, so those warmer daytime temperatures that the Nevada desert enjoys will quickly disappear when the cars head out onto the track.
It will be a far cry from our previous visit to the entertainment capital of the world, where the 1981 and 1982 Caesars Palace Grands Prix were both held in intense heat, with several drivers suffering from heat exhaustion.
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These low temperatures, matched with a new track surface, are something that Mario Isola, Motorsport Director for Pirelli, has admitted will create an interesting challenge for the teams.
“It is a step into the unknown, for everybody I believe,” Isola shared in Brazil last weekend.
“Las Vegas will be cold, it’s a street circuit…. We decided to use the three softest compounds in the range to try to generate grip. I can imagine a lot of track evolution and very low grip.
“But it's a big unknown. Fast track, long straights, high speed and all conditions that are quite difficult to manage.”
Nicholas Latifi takes his 2020 Eifel Grand Prix track walk in wintry settings, but this wasn't the coldest-ever race...
Visits to Germany’s Nürburgring and Turkey’s Istanbul Park during the pandemic-affected 2020 season saw the mercury barely creep above 10°C / 50°F, but these were far from the coldest Grand Prix temperatures ever recorded.
The title for ‘Formula 1’s coldest race’ belongs to the Canadian Grand Prix of 1978, that season’s curtain closer, held in Montreal during early October.
Drivers were racing in temperatures as low as 5ºC / 41ºF and the podium trio were wrapped up in winter jackets as sleet and snow rolled in.
We had one car competing that chilly afternoon, with Alan Jones racing to P9 in his FW06, also recording the fastest lap – a 1:38.072 recorded on the final tour.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, F1 never raced in Canada during the month of October again.
Alan Jones, pictured with Sir Patrick Head, finished P9 in the coldest race in F1 history
*Header photo is of Alan Jones in the FW06 at the US Grand Prix East, one round prior to the 1978 Canadian GP.
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