Last night, the Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend opened with a staged ceremony. Drivers were very briefly lifted from moving stages to wave to the crowd as they were introduced, then brought back down into the boxes. It was a strange event that drew mixed reviews from drivers, and nobody seemed to like it less than reigning champion Max Verstappen.
Verstappen, who secured the 2023 Formula 1 championship a month ago, has a wide-ranging series of complaints about the entire race weekend and shared all of them with Autosport. In the opening ceremonies, he said that he was "just standing up there, looking like a clown." He is "not looking forward to" the weekend itself, which he sees as 99% show and 1% sporting event." He finds the track itself "not very interesting," as "it's not very many corners" and "a street circuit is not very exciting, especially in these new cars."
While he seems to hate the whole thing, he does understand why all of this is happening; he adds that "I guess they still make money if I like it or not, so it's not up to me."
While Verstappen's open hostility to the event is unique, the opinion that this sort of pomp and circumstance is distracting to drivers is not. Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Sainz Jr., and Lando Norris were among the drivers who shared concerns about their additional race weekend obligations during Wednesday's media day, all echoing complaints that many drivers had after a drawn-out, NASCAR-style driver intros ceremony before the Miami Grand Prix. One day into the Las Vegas race weekend, those complaints seem to have been met with even bigger and more strange obligations for drivers.
On-track running at the Las Vegas Grand Prix begins with practice sessions tonight. With three days of race weekend left, Verstappen is far from done participating in these kinds of events and still has plenty of time to tell the assembled media exactly how he feels about the whole ordeal.
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