LAS VEGAS: If you want to party, go to Ibiza, suggested Red Bull’s three-time Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen, as the disillusioned Dutchman lamented the lack of passionate, knowledgeable motor racing fans in Las Vegas this weekend.
Las Vegas may be full of good places to drink, gamble and see a good show, but Formula 1 is a serious sport and not just another act on the Strip, Formula 1’s biggest star said after placed his Red Bull second on the starting grid alongside Ferrari pole-sitter Charles LeClerc for Saturday night’s race.
“Of course I understand the fans. They also need something to do around a track,” Verstappen said. “But I think it’s more important that you make them understand what we do as a sport.
“Most of them come just to party, have a drink, see a DJ play or see a show. I can do that all over the world, go to Ibiza and get really pissed off, but it’s what happens.”
“They don’t really understand what we’re doing or what we’re putting at stake.”
Since arriving in Sin City for the high-profile race, Verstappen has expressed his distaste for the showbiz promotion surrounding the event, reminding everyone that he is first and foremost a racing driver.
While Las Vegas leaves the 26-year-old cold, it’s traditional motorsport circuits like Spa and Monza that motivate him.
And until many of those with tickets to the Las Vegas race understand what makes drivers tick, Formula 1 will remain a warm-up for every other performer on the Strip.
If Verstappen wins on Saturday, it would take his single-season record to 18 victories and take his career total to 53, leaving him third on the all-time list.
Only Lewis Hamilton (103) and Michael Schumacher (91) have won more.
“For me when I was little it was about the emotion of the sport, that’s what I fell in love with and not the spectacle,” Verstappen said. “As a real pilot, the show shouldn’t really matter.
“When you go to Spa, in these kinds of places, there is a lot of emotion and passion and for me, seeing the fans there is incredible. When I get in the car there, I’m excited and I like riding in these kinds of places.”
Las Vegas? Not so much – no matter how hard Verstappen tries to say otherwise.
“I love Vegas, I love going out, having a few drinks, putting everything in red, eating good food. But the emotion, the passion, it’s not there like on some old school songs.”