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F1 Drivers Discuss the Merits of Las Vegas GP: “99% Show and 1% Sporting Event”

Driver opinion of the Las Vegas GP is as varied as those of fans. ...

There have been several debates online between fans over the Las Vegas Grand Prix and whether it is a good or bad thing for Formula 1. Now we’ve got opinions from the drivers themselves and even these are as wide ranging as those of fans.

Max Verstappen has been the most critical believing that F1 is only in Vegas for the show, while sporting reasons have become secondary.

“99% show and 1% sporting event,” Verstappen said of the Vegas GP.

“I don’t have a lot of emotions to be honest, I just want to focus on the performance side of things, I don’t like all the things that are around, I know they are part of it, but it’s not in my interest.

“[The track] is not very interesting, and I just want to do the best that I can – there is no problem – but it’s not really my thing.

“If I like it or not, it is not up to me, but I am not going to fake it.

“I just voiced my opinion on positive and negative things, and that is 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 is how I see it as well. I like to be in Vegas – but not so much for the racing.”

After the opening ceremony at Vegas, Verstappen was adamant in his dislike.

“For me, you can skip all these kinds of things,” Verstappen said. “It’s just standing up there, [and you] look like a clown.”

Charles Leclerc: “Keep the DNA of the Sport”

Charles Leclerc was more moderate in his opinion. He believes that there is an opportunity with races like Vegas to get more people into racing in general but worries that F1 might lose its identity in the process and that it has to be a balancing act.

“It’s a lot,” Leclerc said of the Vegas event. “But I think that, if you don’t do that here, you don’t do that anywhere. I mean, what’s most important to me is that the DNA of the sports remains the same.

“However, we need to also take opportunities of this kind of event in such incredible cities, and make something around it that will maybe attract people that are not interested in racing, at first, but then once they get the see the cars in real life then get interested into racing.

“This could potentially be many more fans for the sport in the years to come. So I think it’s great what F1 has done until now.”

He specifically stated that he wouldn’t go so far as Verstappen in his criticism.

“No, no, no. I mean, for me – we really need to keep the DNA of the sport and I love racing,” he said.

“Racing, the way it is also with the format of the weekend as it is – this weekend is amazing. We should keep that.

“But, when you come to a place like Vegas, when you go to a place like Miami, I think there you should take every opportunity as a sport, I mean, F1 needs to take every opportunity they have.

“If that means making a bit more of a show around the race, that’s amazing. Then we need to try and find the limits to how far we’re going to go with our time because, before the race, to go for a five-minute show of fireworks and everything, we’ve got other things to think of.

“At the same time, I completely understand that there needs to be some kind of special show whenever we go to these places.”

Lewis Hamilton: “Don’t Knock” Las Vegas GP

When the question of whether Vegas was a triumph of showbusiness over motorsport was put to Lewis Hamilton, he was confident that this would help grow Formula 1, which is great for the future of the sport, even if the event will “never be like Silverstone.”

“Well, the sport continues to grow,” said Hamilton. “It is a business ultimately and I think you’ll still see good racing here.

“It’s just such a big country. I think to really tap into the market here and really captivate the audience here, I think we needed to have at least two races, the one wasn’t enough.

This is one of the most iconic and unique cities that they have here and the lights, the show, it is a big show, for sure.

“It’s never going to be like Silverstone, but maybe over time, the people in this community here will grow to love the sport, just as we’ve had the privilege of growing up and experiencing.

“Maybe the track will be good, maybe it will be bad. It was so-so on the sim. It’s definitely not Silverstone, but I think don’t knock it until you try it.

“I hear there’s a lot of people complaining about the direction that Stefano and Liberty have been going, but I think they’ve been doing an amazing job. The sport is growing massively, it’s going to grow even more once we get this movie out.”

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