Verstappen Felt Like 'A Clown' at F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix Opening Ceremony

Three-time champion driver unimpressed by glitz and glamour surrounding F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Last Updated: Nov 17, 2023 1:17 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Max Verstappen F1 Red Bull
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Max Verstappen isn't a fan of the circus surrounding Formula 1's Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The champion Red Bull driver and winner of 17 of 20 races this season said he felt like "a clown" during the race's opening ceremonies on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. He also said Saturday's race is "99% show and 1% sporting event" and wasn't present at a VIP party all drivers were expected to attend.

"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."

- Max Verstappen on the Las Vegas Grand Prix festivities

The Las Vegas Grand Prix is the penultimate race on the 2023 calendar, and with Verstappen having wrapped up the drivers' championship in October, the weekend feels more like a spectacle than a sporting event. Sports stars and celebrities are expected to flock to Vegas for the weekend of festivities. Concerts, shows, and parties dot the weekend calendar, including a wide array of international entertainers scheduled to perform at The Sphere.

A race unlike any other

The race itself also won't resemble many of the other stops on the circuit. For starters, it will be held Saturday night rather than on Sunday to take advantage of the glitz and glamour Sin City has to offer. But that start time also brings with it weather and temperature concerns.

The race will run along the Las Vegas strip, which was shut down for construction and has affected local businesses. The 6.2-kilometre circuit will also pass by The Bellagio, Caesars Palace, The Venetian, and The Sphere.

That track has already come into question after Thursday night's practice run was shut down early after a manhole cover did significant damage to Carlos Sainz's Ferrari.

"It cost us a fortune ... I think it's just unacceptable for F1," Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur said of the incident.

F1 has invested heavily in the Vegas race — with the price tag estimated to be around $500 million. And though it's expected to be the top-selling F1 race worldwide, ticket and hotel prices have dropped significantly during race week. 

Will it all be worth it in the end?

"I'm looking forward to try to do the best I can, but I'm not looking forward to (the show)," Verstappen said of the festivities.

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