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Coulthard: F1 chiefs likely annoyed by Verstappen criticism

David Coulthard thinks that Formula 1’s top brass was likely angered by Max Verstappen’s scathing criticism last week of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Ahead of last Saturday’s exciting race in the neon capital of the world, where Verstappen conquered his 53rd career win in F1, the Dutchman took an axe to the sport’s latest racing extravaganza.

Verstappen first singled out the event’s flashy opening ceremony, which made him feel like a “clown” and reinforced his opinion that racing in Vegas was 99% show and 1% sport.

He then took aim at the event’s street circuit, calling its lay-out “boring”, while comparing Vegas to Monaco was like contrasting Dutch football’s first division with the Champions League.

The three-time world champion was also unimpressed with how Las Vegas’ organizers – or Formula 1 – handled its situation with the fans in the wake of Thursday’s water valve cover drama, an incident that ultimately led to an estimated 35,000 spectators being ejected from the track for security reasons.

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Speaking to Channel 4 last weekend in Las Vegas, Coulthard suggested that Formula 1 probably wished it could put a gag order on Verstappen

“Of course, they won’t like it”, Coultard said. “They will just think about bottom-line investment. They are cold, hard business people, at the end of the day.

“One shoe doesn’t fit all. If Max fits into the grumpy, 85-year-old ‘freaky Friday’ - if that’s who his character is, then be true to yourself.”

©RedBull

Asked if Red Bull team boss Christian Horner might have intervened and asked his driver to adhere to the guidelines, Coulthard replied: “Yes, I’m sure he would have had that conversation. But Max believes in freedom of speech.”

Indeed, the 26-year-old bold racer is very much his own man when it comes to expressing his thoughts and opinions.

As for Horner, after last weekend’s race, the Briton considered Verstappen’s level of candor and frankness as being “refreshingly honest”.

“I thought it was a great Grand Prix and I think Max would have thoroughly enjoyed that race because that’s what he loves and that’s what he’s here for,” the Red Bull boss said.

©RedBull

“The fact he won it in an Elvis Presley suit and was singing Viva Las Vegas on an in-lap whilst, you know, you have to respect that it doesn’t sit comfortably with him, some of the razzmatazz that goes around Formula 1, and it’s quite refreshing that he’s actually prepared to speak. He’s given his honest opinion.

“I think he also reflects that it’s an important event for Formula 1 and I think the race and the way it delivered today is something that you could certainly see he enjoyed.

“We showed him that weeks ago [Elvis overalls]. So it was something that he was aware of and bought into. And so to have both of our Elvis’s on the podium, you know, was a great result.”

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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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