Max Verstappen has intensified his criticism of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, deriding the circuit as “National League” in comparison to the “Champions League” quality of Monaco. The world champion also repeated his complaint that Formula One was focusing too much on presenting a show rather than emphasising the sport.
In the buildup to the meeting in Las Vegas, the first time F1 has raced here since 1982, Verstappen derided it as “99% show, 1% sporting event” and after qualifying in third behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz on Saturday he was once more highly critical of the circuit and F1’s efforts to sell their showcase event to the US audience.
When asked how a qualifying lap on the streets of the city compared with one at Monaco he issued a dismissive one-liner. “I think Monaco is like the Champions League, this is National League,” he said.
F1 is believed to have invested as much as $700m to make this race happen but Verstappen remained defiantly off message. He again emphasised the visceral pleasure he feels from driving classic circuits but insisted he remained unmoved by F1’s latest and most glittering bauble.
“I love Vegas but not to drive in a Formula One car,” he said. “I love to have a few drinks, throw everything on red, have some nice food but emotions, passion? It’s not there compared to some old-school tracks. It’s more about the proper race tracks, Spa, Monza. Seeing the fans there is incredible and when I jump in the car I am fired up and I love driving around these places.”
Verstappen has never been a great fan of most street circuits but he has been particularly critical of this event, where F1 is for the first time both race organiser and promoter and who have been selling the meeting as a showcase for the sport akin to the Super Bowl. It has clearly left the Dutchman cold and he once more asked questions which will likely go down poorly with F1 management.
“I understand fans need maybe something to do around a track but it is more important to make them understand what we do as a sport,” he said. “Most come to just have a party, drink, see a performance act. I can do that all over the world, I can do Ibiza and get completely shit-faced and have a good time.
“But that’s what happens, people come and they become a fan of what? They come to see their favourite artist and have a few drinks with their mates, go out and have a crazy night out but they don’t understand what we are doing and what we are putting on the line to perform.”