F1: Max Verstappen rates Las Vegas Grand Prix as ’99 percent show’

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing walk around the paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit on November 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP)

Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen described this weekend’s Las Vegas Grand Prix as a “99 percent show” and is looking forward to the race.

Red Bull’s three-time world champion criticized the new street circuit and said on Wednesday he was not interested in the fuss surrounding the event.

“It’s 99 percent performance, 1 percent sporting event,” Verstappen said when asked to assess the sport’s return to Vegas after a 41-year absence.

“To be honest, there wasn’t much emotion. I mean, I don’t like it… I just want to always focus on the performance side, I don’t like everything about it anyway,” he said.

“I know of course there are certain places that you know are part of it, but let’s just say that’s not my interest,” he added.

Asked for his opinion on the street circuit, which will take drivers down the famous Vegas strip, Verstappen replied bluntly.

“Yeah, not very interesting… honestly, there just aren’t many turns,” he said.

After attending the opening ceremony, which included a drone show and music, the 26-year-old said he would not be attending Wednesday’s event.

When asked if he was at least looking forward to Sunday’s race, Verstappen’s lack of enthusiasm was once again evident.

“NO. No, but I’m looking forward to giving it my all, but I’m looking forward to it,” he said, pointing to the hospitality areas above the paddock.

Verstappen said he had not spoken to F1 organizers about his views, but he doubted those views would influence them.

“I don’t know. I think they’re still making money whether I like it or not, so it’s not up to me. But I’m not going to fake it,” he said.

“I just always express my opinion both positively and negatively, and that’s who I am. Some people like this show a little more, I don’t like it at all,” he said.

“I grew up looking at everything in terms of performance, and I see that too. That’s why I like being in Vegas, but not only for racing,” he added.

Dutch Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen (left) and Mexican Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Perez attend the opening ceremony of the Las Vegas Grand Prix on November 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Dutch Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen (left) and Mexican Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Perez attend the opening ceremony of the Las Vegas Grand Prix on November 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: Jim WATSON / AFP)

However, Verstappen said he understood that F1 owners Liberty Media, who also organize the Las Vegas Grand Prix, had their own commercial interests.

“I fully understand and, you know, you can look at it in two ways – business or sports. Of course, I also understand their side,” he said.

“But I’m just giving my opinion on performance,” he said.

Many F1 team members and sponsors have organized events around the Vegas GP this week, creating a tight driver schedule, and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz said it was time to consider an overall reduction in media and commercial commitments.

“Looking to the future, we will have to reconsider the way we race on the weekends because our schedules are getting tighter every year,” said the Spaniard.

“We’re adding races to the calendar and it’s getting to the point where I think sometimes everything feels a bit repetitive and overcrowded, so maybe we’re trying to overdo it a little bit,” he said.

British McLaren driver Lando Norris struck a similar tone at Verstappen and said he didn’t like the showy opening ceremony.

“I’ve never been the biggest fan of doing this type of thing the way we did it before. It’s not what I like to do. I know a lot of this stuff is just part of it and I don’t mind it.

“I do this job because I want to come and drive and race cars, but I’ve never been the biggest fan of going to these types of big events, shows and stuff like that.

“I think it’s part of the job and part of the business and… ultimately that’s how it has to work,” he said.

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However, experienced Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin, a two-time world champion, said an exception should be made for Vegas.

“I have to say that I think places like this, given the investment we’ve made and where we’re racing, deserve a little bit of different treatment and a little bit of extra showing, which we did today,” the 42-year-old said.


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