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

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

Formula One world champion Max Verstappen has blasted this weekend’s Las Vegas Grand Prix as “99 percent show” and says he isn’t looking forward to the race.

The Red Bull three-time world champion criticized the new street course and said Wednesday he had no interest in the razzmatazz around the event.

“It’s 99 precent show and one percent sporting event,” said Verstappen, when asked to evaluate the return of the sport to Vegas after a 41-year absence.

“Not a lot of emotions to be honest. I mean I don’t like… I just want to always focus on the performance side of things, I don’t like all the things around it anyway,” he said.

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

Asked for his opinion on the street track, which will take the drivers down the famous Vegas ‘strip’, Verstappen was blunt.

“Yeah, not very interesting…it’s just not many corners to be honest,” he said.

After taking part in the opening ceremony, which featured a drone show and music, the 26-year-old said he wouldn’t be attending Wednesday night’s party.

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

“No. No, but I’m looking forward to trying to do the best I can, but I’m not looking forward to this,” he said, pointing to the hospitality areas above the paddock.

Verstappen said he hadn’t talked to the F1 organizers about his views but said he doubted his views would have an impact on them.

“I don’t know. I guess they still make money if I like it or not, so it’s not up to me. But I’m also not going to fake it,” he said.

“I just always voice my opinion in positive things and negative things, and that’s just how I am. Some people like a show a bit more, I don’t like it at all,” he said.

“I grew up just looking at the performance side of things, and that’s how I see it as well. So for me, I like to be in Vegas, but not so much for racing,” he added.

Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen (L) and teammate Red Bull Racing's Mexican driver Sergio Perez participate in the opening ceremony for the Las Vegas Grand Prix on November 15, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen (L) and teammate Red Bull Racing’s Mexican driver Sergio Perez participate in the opening ceremony for the Las Vegas Grand Prix on November 15, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)

But Verstappen said that he did understand that F1’s owners Liberty Media, who are also promoters of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, had their own commercial interests.

“I fully understand and you know, you can look at it two ways – business side or sports side. So, I, of course, understand their side of it as well,” he said.

“But I’m just voicing my opinion on the performance side of things,” he said.

Many of the team and F1 sponsors have put on events around the Vegas GP this week, making for a busy schedule for the drivers and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz said it was time to consider scaling back media and commercial commitments in general.

“Looking into the future, we’re going to need to reconsider a bit the way we go racing at the weekends, because our schedules are getting busier and busier every year that goes by,” said the Spaniard.

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

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

“I’ve never been the biggest fan of doing these types of things like we did earlier. It’s not what I enjoy doing, I know a lot of this stuff is just part of it and I’m not saying anything against it.

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

“I guess it’s part of the job and it’s a business and….that’s how it has to run in the end of the day,” he said.



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But veteran 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 one, with the investment that has been done and the place that we are racing, I think it deserves a little bit different treatment and a little bit extra show (like) we did today,” said the 42-year-old.





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