Verstappen: Vegas fans only care about partying not F1
By Ian Parkes
Sunday 19th November, 2023 - 2:02pm
Max Verstappen has launched another astonishing attack on Las Vegas, claiming the grandstands are full of fans who only care about partying than F1.
Verstappen has so far made clear he is far from a fan of the sport’s US$500 million flagship event, with the three-time champion further insisting after qualifying that it lacks emotion and passion.
The Red Bull driver can understand F1’s need to add entertainment, but not to the extent he has so far seen in Vegas where he feels the fans have no understanding of what the sport is about, and what the drivers, in particular, are putting on the line.
Verstappen even went so far as to paint a football analogy between Las Vegas, and the venerable venue of Monaco that has been on the calendar since the birth of F1 in 1950.
The 26-year-old declared Monaco to be “Champions League”, with Las Vegas “National League”, the fifth tier of English football.
“I could go on for a long time,” bemoaned Verstappen, after qualifying third on the grid, although he will start second due to a 10-place grid penalty for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
“I feel like the show is important, but I like emotion. When I was a little kid it was all about the emotion of the sport that I fell in love with and not the show. As a real racer, the show shouldn’t matter.
“An F1 car does not come alive on a street circuit. It is not that exciting. It is about proper race tracks.
“When you go to Monza and Spa, these kinds of places have a lot of emotion and passion, and for me, seeing the fans there is incredible, and when I jump in the car there I am fired up, and I love driving at these kinds of places.
“I understand fans need things to do around the track, but it is more important that they understand what we do as a sport.
“Most of them just come to have a party, drink, see a DJ play, or a performance act. I can do that all over the world. I can go to Ibiza and get completely shit-faced and have a good time, but that is what happens.
“People come here, but they become a fan of what? They want to maybe see their favourite artist and have a few drinks with their mates, and then go out and have a crazy night.
“But they don’t understand what we are doing, and what we are putting on the line to perform. If more time was invested into the actual sport and what we are trying to achieve…
“As little kids, we grew up wanting to become a world champion. If the sport put more focus onto these kinds of things, explained what the team is doing throughout the season and what they are working for, these things are way more important than having these random shows all over the place.
“For me, I am not passionate about that. I like passion and emotion. I love Vegas, but not to drive an F1 car.
“I love to go out, have a few drinks, throw everything on red, be crazy, and have nice food but the emotion and passion are not there compared to the old-school tracks.”
The fact Verstappen only finished third quickest behind a Ferrari one-two spearheaded by Charles Leclerc, underlined what he conceded was his general dislike of street circuits.
That equated to what he said was “a lack of pace with one-lap performance”.
Verstappen, though, is confident his RB19 will perform in the race as he chases an 18th victory of the season, although is wary of how the tyres will react over the 50 laps.
“The long runs looked good,” said Verstappen.
“Starting second will be interesting. The lead-up into turn one isn’t too bad, but we definitely need a good start.
“The race will be all about keeping the tyres alive as there will be a lot of graining. I’ll ease myself into it, and if I see an opportunity, I’ll go for it.”