Max Verstappen says the Las Vegas Grand Prix is “99% show, and 1% sporting event” and not to his tastes, but understands why Formula 1 has put such a priority on it from a business perspective.
Drivers are facing a strange timezone that has them working into the early hours each day as part of a race weekend schedule, with qualifying at midnight local time and the grand prix starting on Saturday at 10pm. After a Wednesday that involved an opening ceremony with the drivers being introduced, Verstappen says the off-track events don’t excite him.
“99% show, and 1% sporting event,” Verstappen said. “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 … There is no problem, but it’s just not really my thing.
“I fully understand. You can look at it two ways, business side or sport side. Of course I understand their side as well. I’m voicing my opinion on the performance side of things.
“It’s not about the singers (in the opening ceremony). We are just standing up there, looking like a clown.”
Verstappen admits he’s not looking forward to the race weekend in Las Vegas, but says that doesn’t mean he wants F1 to take notice of his opinion, but suggests fan reaction should be the most important aspect.
“My voice? It’s also not my aim that it makes a massive difference. But when you ask me a question and I feel like I want to answer it, I’ll answer it in an honest way.
“We are not a stakeholder, so we just go with it. 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 would do with it what I want if that would be the case.
“If someone wants to go in this direction, you want a lot more show attached to the program, 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.”
However, one area Verstappen was critical of the upcoming race weekend is in terms of its scheduling as a double-header with Abu Dhabi, given the seven-hour difference in race times.
“When you’re here it’s not so much a problem, but then we have to fly to Abu Dhabi where it’s already 12 hours difference but then also a completely different timezone, because basically we live on a Japanese time schedule, but then almost a different day. I don’t really get that. That is very tiring, also at the end of the season that we have to do this, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense.”