LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Las Vegas Grand Prix is an absolute spectacle of neon extravagance and Max Verstappen has no interest in the excess and opulence woven into Formula One’s first visit to Sin City in 41 years.
The reigning three-time Formula One champion called Saturday night’s race “99% show, and 1% sporting event”, while complaining that he felt like “a clown” when standing on the podium during Wednesday night’s opening ceremony. took place, which included several concerts.
The driver was expected to take his 18th win of the season – his sixth in a row – then he skipped a VIP party at The Wynn, which F1 president Stefano Domenicali had asked all drivers to attend.
“I always like to focus on the performance side of things. Anyway, I don’t like everything around it. I know, of course, in some places they are part of it, but let’s say it’s not in my best interest,” said the Red Bull driver. “I’m eager to try to do my best, but I’m not looking forward to (the show).”
Verstappen, who won his third consecutive title in early October with six races remaining in the season, is one of the few drivers offered $500 by F1 and its owner, Liberty Media, in F1’s first attempt at its own lavish promotion. Were troubled by the spectacle of Milian. price
F1 is committed to making the Las Vegas Strip race a success and has invested heavily in what it hopes is a long-term destination for the global series on its annual calendar. The entire schedule leading up to Saturday night is packed with expensive fan experiences – both at the track and in the casinos and restaurants – and celebrities should arrive any time before the first of Thursday night’s two practice sessions.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix is the third F1 stop in the United States this year, more than any other country, and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton argued that the market needed to retain the series and make Saturday nights a success. The demand is quite strong.
“The game is constantly growing. It’s a business ultimately, and I think you’ll still see good racing here,” said Hamilton, who has seen the movie ”Casino” a thousand times.
“It is one of the most iconic cities among other wonderful cities in America. All the lights, the show, it’s definitely a big show,” he continued. “And it will never be the same as Silverstone, but perhaps over time, people here in the community will grow to love the sport. Maybe the track will be good, maybe it will be bad. I guess don’t knock it ’til you try it.”
And he defended the direction of F1 and Liberty. The United States Grand Prix was the only F1 stop in the Americas from 2012 to 2021. The Miami Grand Prix was added in 2022 and now makes its debut on the Las Vegas Strip after two races in 1981 and 1982 used the parking lot at Caesars Palace. ,
“I hear a lot of people complaining about the direction Stefano and Liberty are going, but I think they’re doing an amazing job,” Hamilton said. “This game is growing in a big way. We just have to think about the impact on these different places. It’s not just a circus that comes here and then we leave. We need to look at how we can make a positive impact on the community here and especially the children.”
Verstappen admitted he is aware of what Liberty Media is trying to do with F1, even though he prefers to focus on racing.
“You can look at it two ways, the business side or the sports side, so I definitely understand their side as well, but I’m just expressing my opinion on the performance side of things,” he said. Stakeholders, so we just get on with it. I mean, they decide what they do, right? If someone really wants to go in this direction, that you want a lot of shows tied to this type of program, then I think we’ll have to deal with that as well. Let’s see how long the fans also like it.
Ticket prices and hotel rates for the event dropped last week, and although tickets are still available directly from the Las Vegas Grand Prix site, brokers are now reporting a surge in last-minute interest. GameTime said the top-priced seats for the weekend were listed at $7,109, up from $4,613 a week earlier.
Meanwhile, StubHub said the Las Vegas Grand Prix is the best-selling F1 race of the year and ranks among the top 10 best-selling sporting events of the entire year globally on the secondary site. StubHub said half the tickets were sold after F1’s November 5 race in Brazil, and 30% of the tickets purchased were from California-based buyers.
It is the most expensive race to attend in this year’s 24-event calendar.
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said he was looking at this week from two different lenses. He said, “The team principle in me is afraid to race” because there are so many unknowns about the track and the expected temperatures are not consistent with Mercedes’ performance.
“Team theory, that kind of narrow-minded racing guy, says it’s going to be very difficult,” Wolff said.
But as a stakeholder in F1’s success, he appreciates the effort of racing in Las Vegas.
“If we provide great racing, it’s going to be entertaining,” Wolff said. “And to be able to do that on the Strip, in the middle of Las Vegas, was unimaginable years ago. I look forward to adding to the great events that take place each year in Las Vegas and providing great racing.”
race for second place
Mercedes has all but given up Hamilton’s chance of catching Sergio Perez for second in the final driver standings.
With two races remaining, Hamilton trails Perez in the standings by 32 points. A race winner gets 25 points, and only the top 10 finishers are awarded points.
Hamilton admitted it is a tall order at this point, especially given that it looks impossible right now to beat Verstappen for the race win.
Hamilton said of Pérez, “He would have to suffer two disasters and I would basically have to finish second.” “But for me, honestly, it doesn’t really matter whether I’m second or third. I think we had an amazing year even considering the car we had. We never imagined that we would be fighting for second place in the Constructors’ and knocking on the door of perhaps the most influential car of its era.
Wolff also said Perez would fail to complete Saturday night’s and next week’s season finale in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s extremely difficult. If Perez is a DNF, we have a chance,” Wolfe said. Instead he said the team was working hard to maintain its 20-point lead over second-place Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.
Wolff said, “I think it will be a testament that we had an uncompetitive car that was still able to finish second.” “We’ve always been there, not where we wanted to be, but finishing second at the World Championship is no shame.”
F1 is in a brutal final stretch of the season, which saw the series race for three consecutive weeks in Texas, Mexico City and Brazil, with a week off before Las Vegas. F1 then heads straight to Abu Dhabi for next Sunday’s season finale.
The problem is that all the on-track activity in Las Vegas happens late at night, with qualifying scheduled for midnight local time on Friday and the race starting at 10 p.m.
“It feels like I’ve been jet-lagged for a month and a half,” said Haas driver Kevin Magnussen. He said he has been awake for 24 hours straight as he acclimates to Las Vegas time and prepares for the late race.
Red Bull’s Perez said: “It feels a bit crazy to be up so late at night. In fact, it is quite challenging to stay awake for such a long time.
This was another one of Verstappen’s complaints.
“It doesn’t really make sense,” he said of leaving Las Vegas for Abu Dhabi, where there is a 12-hour time difference. “I don’t really understand that. It is very tiring. “Also the end of the season, we have to do this.”
The sphere will not be dimmed when drivers are on track, but F1 and the FIA asked that yellow, red and blue not be used on the giant LED screens in an attempt to distract drivers.
Verstappen did not think the sphere would be a problem, and hoped that the images shown during the race would be entertaining. But when he was told that photographs of the driver, including his, would be produced, he refused.
“No, it’s definitely a distraction for me,” he said. “I might run into a wall, so let’s not do that.”
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Jenna Fryer, The Associated Press