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Max Verstappen downplays the significance of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, stating that it is mostly a spectacle rather than a serious sporting competition.

Formula One’s hopes to open the Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend with a bang were dealt a blow when its reigning world champion, Max Verstappen, dismissed the meeting as “99% show and 1% sporting event”. The Dutchman was scathing about what F1 hopes will be its biggest race of the year and a showcase for the sport.

The upcoming meeting is the inaugural event put together by Liberty Media, the owners of F1. The spectacle began on Wednesday evening with a lavish opening ceremony on the start-finish straight, featuring performances by Kylie Minogue and John Legend, as well as dazzling laser displays and fireworks. The highlight of the evening was when the drivers were lifted onto stages to greet the approximately 30,000 attendees in the newly constructed pit and paddock grandstand complex in the city.

Max Verstappen did not have a good time. He expressed his disinterest, saying, “You can skip this.” He also mentioned that it was not about the singers and felt like they were standing up on stage looking foolish. He was so unimpressed that he even turned down an invitation to a party hosted by F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali at the Wynn casino, stating that he had no interest in attending.

Verstappen has long since wrapped up his third world championship this season but has been explicit in his desire to see out the remaining races as successfully as possible to add to the record 17 races he has won thus far. The hype and hoopla surrounding Las Vegas, however, has left him cold.

When questioned about his anticipation for it, his answer was straightforward. He replied, “No.” He added, “Although I am eager to give my best effort, I am not excited about this.”

A personalised welcome sign for Max Verstappen

The purpose of F1 is not only to increase ticket sales, but also to boost the popularity of the sport in both the US and worldwide. It is crucial to have all the drivers on board in order to put on a successful show, but Verstappen was determined not to participate.

The person stated that whether or not they like something, the company will still profit. Therefore, it is not their decision. However, they will not pretend to like it and will always express their views, both positive and negative. This is simply their nature.

“While some individuals may enjoy the show to a greater extent, I personally do not like it at all. I have always focused solely on the performance aspect and that is how I view it. Therefore, while I do enjoy being in Vegas, racing is not my main reason for being there.”

The Dutchman further added to the disappointment by stating that he did not have high hopes for the new 3.8-mile track, which includes a lengthy stretch along Las Vegas Boulevard, the famous street of the city.

“He expressed his lack of enthusiasm, stating that a street circuit is not particularly thrilling, especially with the heavier new cars. The lack of grip also adds to the underwhelming experience. While the scenery may be appealing, the layout itself lacks excitement.”

F1’s hopes for the race are still optimistic and they are actively working towards increasing interest in the sport in the United States, where there are now three races. Lewis Hamilton showed his support for this effort, particularly for the major event in Las Vegas.

I have heard many complaints about the direction that Stefano and [F1 owners] Liberty have taken, but I believe they are doing an excellent job. The sport is still growing and it is important to remember that it is a business. Despite any changes, we can still expect exciting races. The US is a valuable market to reach and this city offers a one-of-a-kind experience for fans. It was necessary to have more than one race in the US, and this particular location is iconic and stands out.

“It’s certainly a grand event, but it won’t be like Silverstone. However, perhaps with time, the members of this community will come to appreciate the sport.”

Source: theguardian.com