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Verstappen felt like “a clown” at glitzy Las Vegas F1 opening ceremony

Max Verstappen has voiced his disapproval of the showbiz element around Formula 1's Las Vegas Grand Prix, noting that he felt like “a clown” at Wednesday’s opening ceremony.

The drivers at the opening ceremony

The drivers at the opening ceremony

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Along with a drone show and musical performances, the event included a section during which the drivers emerged from giant boxes on the pit straight and were introduced to the crowd.

Verstappen, who also opted to miss a later VIP event at the Wynn’s hotel complex that F1 boss Stefano Domenicali asked all the drivers to attend, made it clear that he is not enjoying the Las Vegas experience thus far.

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

Asked to what degree the Las Vegas weekend was a show, he said: "99% show, and 1% sporting event."

The triple world champion continued: "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."

As a result, Verstappen indicated that he is not looking forward to the event - the first staged in Las Vegas since the Caesars Palace Grand Prix in 1982.

"This weekend?” he replied when asked about it. “No. I'm looking forward to try to do the best I can, but I'm not looking forward to this [the show]."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Verstappen acknowledged that Liberty Media is keen to make an impact in Las Vegas and 'fully understood' its desire to maximise the show element.

He said: "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, 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."

Asked if he thought that voicing his opinion would make a difference, he downplayed the suggestion.

"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."

He added: "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."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Pressed on the value of his opinion to F1 and Liberty, Verstappen downplayed the potential impact.

"Well, I don't know,” he said. “I mean, I guess they still make money if I like it or not, so it's not up to me.

"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."

Verstappen also made it clear that he’s not very impressed by the Las Vegas circuit layout.

"Yeah, not very interesting,” he said when asked about it by Autosport. “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.

A view of the track

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

A view of the track

"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."

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