Max Verstappen dislikes the show, saying he “looked like a clown” during F1 Las Vegas GP ceremony

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Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

The Las Vegas Grand Prix opening ceremony was a celebrity overloaded performance spectacle with a little bit of Formula 1 sprinkled in. Right after did the final performance of the evening, the drivers were introduced to the crowd.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen wasn’t too pleased with all the glitter and glamour prior to this weekend’s on-track action, also opting out of a VIP event with Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali later on the evening.

“For me you can all skip these things,” Verstappen was quite clear in his opinion. “It’s not about the singer, it’s just standing up there, you look like a clown.”

“[The weekend is] 99% show, and 1% sporting event,” he said, claiming he feels quite indifferent about all the spectacle off-track.

“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.”

Saying the Red Bull driver is unimpressed is quite the understatement. He continued: “No, I’m looking forward to try to do the best I can, but I’m not looking forward to this [the show].”

And while he, and other drivers, don’t really feel the need for all the show, both the city of Las Vegas and Formula One Management are very keen on making the race a commercial success.

“You can look at it two ways, business side or sport side, 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 also feels he is not really trying to make a difference as a driver in these considerations of business over sport, but he won’t hold back when asked his opinion on the matter.

“It’s also not my aim that it makes a massive difference,” he explained. “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. 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.”

The Dutchman feels his opinion has little influence on the business decisions of Liberty and F1, as they’ll make the money anyway.

“Well, I don’t know. I mean, I guess they still make money if I like it or not, so it’s not up to me,” he explained. “But you know, I’m also not going to fake it, I just always voiced my opinion in positive things, and negative things.

“And that’s just how I am. And some people like a show a bit more. I don’t like it at all, 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.”

The track itself also could not really charm Verstappen, as it lacks corners.

“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.”

A compounding factor in this is the current cars, which are too heavy for the slow corners on a street track.

“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.”