Max Verstappen says, “I just always want to focus on the performance side of things, I don’t like all the things around it anyway."
Haas’ Kevin Magnussen added that “obviously F1 is taking motorsport into a completely new scene, if you want, that certainly I’m not accustomed to."
Lewis Hamilton described the event as “something we’ve been dreaming of, it’s surreal to be here, it’s exciting, so many lights, there’s a great energy here."
A critical Max Verstappen described Formula 1’s upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix as “99% show” as opening ceremonies began on Wednesday.
A star-studded concert, a drone show, fireworks from the top of the high-rise hotels on the Strip, and driver introductions were held on Wednesday evening at Las Vegas. The weather didn’t exactly play ball, with rain falling, while the grandstand opposite the pits wasn’t exactly sold out—maybe half capacity at best—for the 30-minute show on the grid.
Keith Urban, Journey, Kylie Minogue and 30 Seconds To Mars were among the artists who opened the Las Vegas weekend, before all 20 drivers were introduced team-by-team through temporary platforms to the awaiting spectators, amid fireworks across the night sky.
“99% show, and 1% sporting event,” said F1 World Champion Verstappen. “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.”
Verstappen went on to describe the Las Vegas Strip Circuit layout as “not very interesting” and doubled down on his stance.
“I’m also not going to fake it, I just always voice my opinion on positive things and negative things,” said Verstappen. “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.
“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. As long as everything goes well they can say everything is working well, let’s see how long fans also like this.”
Verstappen also quipped that he was “looking like a clown” during the driver introductions on Wednesday evening.
McLaren’s Lando Norris said “it’s definitely more a show now than what it was a few years ago, to be honest I just want to come here and drive, race, never been the biggest fan of the types of things like we did earlier. But I guess it’s our job and it’s a business, that’s how it has to run.”
Haas’ Kevin Magnussen added that “obviously F1 is taking motorsport into a completely new scene, if you want, that certainly I’m not accustomed to. I feel very much out of place, but, you know, it’s fine.”
Other drivers were more enamoured by the spectacle.
“I’m a sucker for Vegas,” said Daniel Ricciardo. “So being here in amongst it, I think it’s pretty cool. It’s also Wednesday. By Saturday, maybe my answer is different. But right now, I’m cool with it. I’m probably just more in awe that they’ve put this together. Last night we drove on the track to have a little bit of a look, because a track walk at 2 a.m. was a little bit too late for me. But that whole Strip, that long DRS straight, it’s probably going to be the most exciting straight we’ve ever driven on, like ‘ah, ah!’, I’m excited, yeah.”
Fernando Alonso added that “I think places like this one and with the investment that has been doing and the place we’re racing, it deserves a little bit different treatment and extra show of what we did today, the weekend I think I’m okay to do an extra (show) for this type of events.”
Lewis Hamilton described the event as “something we’ve been dreaming of, it’s surreal to be here, it’s exciting, so many lights, there’s a great energy here.”
There were also discussions over what will be displayed on the impressive Sphere structure.
The Sphere is one of the newest main draws in Vegas, with the dome already something of a landmark, and a section of the track from Turns 5 through 9 will go around the structure.
Per a release there are 1.2 million LED pucks, spaced eight inches apart, and each puck contains 48 individual LED diode. Formula 1 content will be on display through the weekend and it will be the first time that the Sphere is utilized for live coverage.
However it is understood that the Sphere will have to be tailored during the on-track activity due to the risk that it will be a distraction for drivers. The colors red, yellow and blue will not be shown on the Sphere during sessions because drivers could mistake them for the respective flags.
“It’s either going to be really cool or really annoying,” said sole American representative Logan Sargeant.
“I think it depends what they put on it—if it’s bright, it might be a bit too much, but something more subtle I think that’ll be fine, we’ll find out soon.”
Elsewhere several teams have unveiled one-off livery designs specially for Las Vegas’ showpiece.
Red Bull went to the biggest extreme, taking over the Omnia nightclub on Tuesday night, with one of its show cars emerging from the ceiling before being suspended over the dancefloor.
The opening two practice sessions will take place Thursday night, beginning at 10:30 p.m. local time (1:30 a.m. ET).