Max Verstappen was unimpressed with the opening ceremony for Formula 1’s Las Vegas Grand Prix, remarking that he felt like “a clown” during the entire occasion.

To celebrate the inaugural round at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit, an event with live musical performances and the drivers being raised on large platforms to the crowd was held.

However, Verstappen, who previously stated that F1’s expansion into Las Vegas was “more for the show than the racing”, vented his disapproval of the ceremony.

“For me, you can skip this,” he said. “It’s not about the singers. We are just standing up there, looking like a clown. I mean, yeah.”

Asked how much he considered a show and how much of it a sporting event, Verstappen reiterated his stance that the Las Vegas GP is “99% show, and 1% sporting event.”

The three-time champion concedes he’s not enthused by the opportunity to race in Sin City for the first time in his career.

“Well I’m looking forward to trying to do the best I can, but then I’m not looking forward to this,” he mentioned in relation to the show. “You have some races where you always look forward to it a little bit more than others.”

Expanding further, Verstappen added: “Not a lot of emotions to be honest. I just always want to focus on the performance side of things, I don’t like all the things around it anyway. I know of course in some places that is part of it, but let’s just say it’s not in my interest.”

(L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing and Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing – Opening Ceremony. 15.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand Prix, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Preparation Day.

However, the Dutchman did admit that he could “understand” the sport’s continued approach towards maximising the growing interest towards F1 in the US market.

“You can look at it two ways, business side or sport side. Of course I understand their side as well. I’m voicing my opinion on the performance side of things,” he commented.

“We are not a stakeholder, so we just go with it. They decide what they do, right,” he continued. “I would do the same if I was the owner, I wouldn’t listen to the drivers. It’s my sport, I would do with it what I want if that would be the case.”

Verstappen also downplayed that his status as a household F1 name could cause the sport’s owners to consider making changes to reduce the focus on the spectacle.

“I don’t know, I guess they still make money if I like it or not, so it’s not up to me,” he contended. “But I’m also not going to fake it, I just always voice my opinion on positive things and negative things. That’s just how I am.

“Some people like the 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.”

Pressed on whether he believed he could make a difference by speaking out, Verstappen retorted: “It’s also not my aim that it makes a massive difference. 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 wants to go in this direction, you want a lot more show attached to the programme, then I guess we have to deal with that,” he added. “As long as everything goes well they can say everything is working well, let’s see how long fans also like this.”

Verstappen also discussed his dissatisfaction towards the track layout, explaining that this generation of F1 cars are too cumbersome for street venues.

“I don’t think it’s that exciting, that’s the only thing,” he noted. “I think already for me a street circuit is not that exciting, especially with these new cars, they are just too heavy.

“When you have low grip that doesn’t help. The scenery will look great, driving through the strip, but the layout itself is not the most exciting. Driving an F1 car is a lot more fun with a lot of high-speed corners, but around here there is not many high-speed corners.”

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