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Alonso: F1 Vegas GP "deserves" its special treatment

Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso believes that Formula 1's coup of bringing a race to the streets of Las Vegas warrants putting on a bigger show and tweaking the schedule.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin F1 Team,

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin F1 Team,

Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

This weekend, F1 owner Liberty Media realises its long-held ambition of bringing the world championship to downtown Vegas, with a layout incorporating a large section of the gambling haven's Strip.

Befitting Vegas' status as an entertainment capital, F1 pulled out all the stops to put on its very own Super Bowl, replete with the glitz of an ambitious opening ceremony on Wednesday and the glamour of numerous PR and fan activations across the city's many casinos.

Not every driver is a fan of having to jump through extra hoops to please F1's bosses and sponsors, with world champion Max Verstappen fuming that he felt like a "clown" during the glitzy opening ceremony.

"For me, you can all skip these things," the Red Bull driver said. "It's not about the singer, it's just standing up there, you look like a clown."

Countering the Dutchman's view, Alonso felt that F1's massive buy-in into the event, reportedly north of $500m, and its coup to have permission to race on the Strip deserves the additional effort from the drivers.

"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 of extra show of what we did today," Alonso said.

"I'm okay to do extra for this type of event."

While Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc felt Wednesday's packed schedule was "a lot", he agreed that it was a one-off opportunity for F1 to cater to a different audience.

"It's a lot. But I think if you don't do that here, you don't do that anywhere," he said.

Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari

"But when you come to a place like Vegas, when you go to a place like Miami, F1 needs to take every opportunity it has. And if that means making a bit more of a show around the race, that's amazing.

"That will maybe attract people that are not interested in racing at first, but then once they get to see the cars in real life they get interested.

"This could be potentially [attracting] many more fans for the sport in the years to come, so I think it's great what F1 has done until now."

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Ahead of what is set to be a heaving starting grid on Saturday featuring more trackside entertainment and pageantry, Leclerc did caution that F1 needs to give drivers ample room to focus on their race.

Miami's driver introductions earlier his year did not go down well with several drivers in the field.

"There's a line that should not be crossed," he added. "Today we are Wednesday, so it's fine that we have got this opening ceremony and all of this.

"Then 10 minutes before getting into the car, that's where we need to be in our zone and not disturbed with whatever is going on around the race, so that has to be protected.

"From the laps to the grid onwards, we should be left alone, so we can focus on the actual racing."

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