Lewis Hamilton (left) contemplating here whether or not he should try to explain to Toto Wolff (right) that poker isn't really gambling. (Image: XPB / Alamy)
Don’t expect to see F1 racing legend Lewis Hamilton at the casino tables this week in Las Vegas – at least not until after the race.
Mercedes team leader Toto Wolff, who has never been to Las Vegas and doesn’t gamble, has banned his racers and support crew from partaking in the activity that put the newest F1 circuit destination on the map.
“We’ll do our best to make sure everyone on the team stays away from the casinos,” Wolff told Motorsport.com. “I don’t gamble and I’ll make sure no one else gambles either.”
Casinos.com was unable to verify where Hamilton and the Mercedes team would be staying in Las Vegas that wasn’t a casino. But Wolff noted that finding his way from the hotel to the circuit, which runs through Las Vegas’s famed resort corridor on the Strip, is the first challenge he’ll face in Sin City.
“We don’t know how to get to from the hotel to the circuit and back,” Wolff said.
Hamilton, 38, has no reported complaints about the restrictions on his gambling activity. He is known, however, to enjoy playing blackjack, and has been seen playing poker at PokerStars and on GGPoker.
He recently decided to at least temporarily give up drinking alcohol in an effort to maximize any edge he might have on the track.
“I’ve always been looking for how to get that extra one percent,” the seven-time world champion told the Daily Mail. “As an athlete, that’s what you are always doing. I don’t know if I’m ever going to drink again.”
With Las Vegas the second-to-last race of the 2023 season, Max Verstappen has already locked up the world title this year. But with a top finish in Las Vegas, Hamilton could pass Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, currently in second place.
The inaugural F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix begins this week, with practice runs starting on Thursday and the race running on Saturday night at 10 p.m. Pacific Time.
The 3.8-mile track is the only North American circuit built on city streets. It passes in front of multiple iconic Las Vegas casinos.
Many of these casino operators, including MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands, Treasure Island and others, have partnered with F1 in support of this event, which is expected to be the biggest money-generator in Las Vegas history.
“We are there more for the show than the racing itself,” Wolff said, “if you look at the layout of the track.”
Still, he acknowledged the significance of this newly added stop on the F1 calendar. “Everyone is looking forward to the Las Vegas race. Racing in this city is comparable to climbing [Mount] Everest.”