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Verstappen: ‘It’s 99% show and 1 % sporting event’ after admitting he feels like a ‘clown’ in Las Vegas

Verstappen has claimed that the Las Vegas Grand Prix opening ceremony is "not in my interest", suggesting the circuit "is not the most exciting"

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Three-time World Champion Max Verstappen has slammed the Las Vegas Grand Prix, stating he is “not looking forward” to his weekend in Sin City, despite admitting he understands why Formula 1 has gone to the United States for a third time due to the “business side” of the sport.

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) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
The circus has come to town

It’s not the first time the United States has put on a show; it’s very common to see — showbiz walkouts in places such as Miami which featured a fake dock to potentially give the Monaco vibe have all been seen before.

However, Verstappen has made clear his disapproval of the opening ceremony, where he was made to emerge from underneath a box stage, which also featured musical performances and a drone show, suggesting they should “skip these things” and get straight to the racing.

Speaking to, Verstappen said:

“For me, you can all skip these things. It’s not about the singer, it’s just standing up there, you look like a clown.

“99% show, and 1% sporting event.

“Not a lot of emotions, to be honest. I just like to always focus on the performance side of things.

“I don’t like all the things around it anyway I know of course, in some places, they are part of it, but let’s say it’s not in my interest.

“I’m looking forward to try to do the best I can, but I’m not looking forward to this [the show].”

Targeting the market

The viewership of Formula 1 has been on the rise in recent years in the United States, with it being one of the largest markets for the sport. Now, three races are being held in the States, more than in any other country. The latest two additions to the calendar are both American circuits: Miami in 2022 and Las Vegas in 2023.

The Dutchman quickly suggested there are “two ways” to view the situation from a sport and a business perspective. However, he also revealed he doesn’t expect his opinion to change anything and claimed he would do the same if he owned the sport.

“You can look at it two ways, business side or sport side,” added the Red Bull driver. “So, I of course understand their side of it as well, but I’m just voicing my opinion on the performance side of things.

“We are not stakeholders [shareholders], so we just go with it. I mean, they decide what they do, right?

“I would do the same if I was the owner, I wouldn’t listen to the drivers, it’s my sport, I do with it what I want if that would be the case.”

Verstappen is not expecting to see any changes

When asked if he expects his opinion to impact Liberty Media’s decision-making, he claimed it wasn’t his “aim”, and he will “have to deal with that” if the sport goes in the showbiz direction.

“It’s also not my aim that it makes a massive difference,” he said. “But when you ask me a question and I feel like I want to answer it, I’ll answer it in an honest way.

“If someone really wants to go into this direction, that you want a lot more show attached to the kind of programme, I guess we have to deal with that.

“But as long as everything goes well of course, then also they can say everything is working well. But yeah, let’s see how long fans also like this.

“I just drive where I have to drive. I mean, you can still voice your opinion about stuff. For the rest of you just do your weekend and go to the next.”

Verstappen is not a fan of the track

However, it wasn’t just the showbiz element that Verstappen had an issue with; the former Torro Rosso driver also made it clear that he was not impressed by the Las Vegas circuit’s layout because of its lack of corners.

With this year’s race being the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, it is unclear what the true performance of each team’s car will be on track. However, Pirelli has announced that they expect track evolution to play a vital role over the weekend, with limited traction for the drivers on this new asphalt.

Speaking regarding the lack of corners, Verstappen claimed the circuit would be “not very exciting”. The 26-year-old said:

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

“I don’t know. I mean, it also will depend probably a bit on how grippy it is. Doesn’t look like it has a lot of grip but yeah, we’ll go with the flow.

“I don’t think it’s that exciting, that’s the only thing.

“But naturally already for me a street circuit is not very exciting, especially with these new cars.

“They’re just too heavy. And especially also when you have low grip, that doesn’t help.

“Of course it will be great driving through the Strip, but then the layout itself is not the most exciting, I think.

“An F1 car is a lot more fun with a lot of high-speed corners.”


Featured image: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

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