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Verstappen no fan of Vegas opening show: ‘I felt like a clown’

Max Verstappen was predictably uninspired by Wednesday’s glittering Las Vegas GP opening ceremony, insisting he felt “like a clown” during the showy presentation.

Formula 1 and the City of Lights cooked up a sparkling high-energy spectacle that featured a drone show and musical performances headlined by Aussie singer Kylie Minogue.

The epilogue of the evening’s festivities, which took place in front of the track’s massive pit complex, saw F1’s field of drivers emerge atop individual stages for a formal presentation.

But Verstappen would have gladly traded the flashy ceremonial for a serene evening of napping in the paddock.

"For me you can all skip these things," the Red Bull driver said. "It's not about the singer, it's just standing up there, you look like a clown."

The three-time F1 world champion also confirmed his previous opinion of F1’s Vegas event.

"99% show, and 1% sporting event,” he said. "Not a lot of emotions, to be honest. 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.

“I'm looking forward to try to do the best I can, but I'm not looking forward to this [the show]," he said.

While uncomfortable with the glitzy spectacular, Verstappen fully understood F1’s entertainment approach to its latest extravaganza.

"You can look at it two ways, business side or sport side, so I of course understand their side of it as well, but I'm just voicing my opinion on the performance side of things,” argued the Dutchman.

"We are not stakeholders, so we just go with it. I mean, they decide what they do, right?

"I would do the same if I was the owner, I wouldn't listen to the drivers, it's my sport, I do with it what I want if that would be the case."

Verstappen defended his right to express his candid opinion, although he doubted it would make much difference.

“When you ask me a question and I feel like I want to answer it, I'll answer it in an honest way,” he said.

"If someone really wants to go in this direction - that you want a lot more show attached to the kind of programme - I guess we have to deal with that.

“But as long as everything goes well of course, then also they can say everything is working well. But yeah, let's see how long fans also like this.

"I just drive where I have to drive. I mean, you can still voice your opinion about stuff. For the rest of you, just do your weekend and go to the next.

“I mean, I guess they still make money if I like it or not, so it's not up to me.

"But you know, I'm also not going to fake it, I just always voiced my opinion in positive things, and negative things.

“And that's just how I am. And some people like a show a bit more.

"I don't like it at all, I grew up just looking at the performance side of things, and that's how I see it as well. So for me, I like to be in Vegas, but not so much for racing."

Verstappen also extended his rather muted outlook on this weekend’s event to Las Vegas’ “not very interesting” track.

“It's just not many corners, to be honest.” He said. "I don't know. I mean, it also will depend probably a bit on how grippy it is.

“Doesn't look like it has a lot of grip but yeah, we'll go with the flow.

"I don't think it's that exciting, that's the only thing. But naturally already for me a street circuit is not very exciting, especially with these new cars.

"They're just too heavy. And especially also when you have low grip, that doesn't help.

"Of course it will be great driving through the Strip, but then the layout itself is not the most exciting, I think.

"An F1 car is a lot more fun with a lot of high-speed corners."

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Phillip van Osten

Motor racing was a backdrop from the outset in Phillip van Osten's life. Born in Southern California, Phillip grew up with the sights and sounds of fast cars thanks to his father, Dick van Osten, an editor and writer for Auto Speed and Sport and Motor Trend. Phillip's passion for racing grew even more when his family moved to Europe and he became acquainted with the extraordinary world of Grand Prix racing. He was an early contributor to the monthly French F1i Magazine, often providing a historic or business perspective on Formula 1's affairs. In 2012, he co-authored along with fellow journalist Pierre Van Vliet the English-language adaptation of a limited edition book devoted to the great Belgian driver Jacky Ickx. He also authored "The American Legacy in Formula 1", a book which recounts the trials and tribulations of American drivers in Grand Prix racing. Phillip is also a commentator for Belgian broadcaster Be.TV for the US Indycar series.

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