NOVEMBER 7, 2023

F1 stars lukewarm on Vegas GP

Formula 1's next and penultimate stop on its long 2023 calendar is the new Las Vegas GP - but is world champion Max Verstappen looking forward to it?

Podium, Brazilian GP 2023
© Red Bull

A lot colder, the Dutchman smiled when asked about the sport's new blue-riband event that even speeds down the iconic 'strip'.

Street circuit, new for everyone. I think it will be full of surprises for sure, Verstappen added.

The Dutchman, who will bid to extend his unprecedented 17-race winning record within a single season, admits he still needs to learn the new layout.

The last time I tried it on the F1 game, I think I hit more walls than I was going straight, he laughed, as he predicted a lack of grip for a race start at 10pm local next Saturday night.

The Las Vegas race is being very much championed by F1's American owners, Liberty Media, who bought the plot of land for the paddock and pitlane last year for a whopping $240 million.

F1 is clearly trying to capitalise on the rising popularity of the sport in the US - powered in large part by the popular Netflix series Drive to Survive.

Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone admits he's no fan of the Americanisation of the sport he shot to a more Euro-centric success in past decades.

I'm not really looking forward to it, said the 92-year-old when asked by NOS about the Las Vegas GP.

It has nothing to do with Formula 1.

Verstappen freely admits that he's not personally supportive of F1's Netflix series, because he's an old school character who wishes that social media never existed.

Freedom of speech, right? he smiled.

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso agrees: I never saw any of Drive to Survive, even season 1.

Lando Norris, 23, recognises that Drive to Survive is not the real truth about life in the F1 paddock. "It's not there to provide the most honest things.

It's a show, it's to entertain people. Formula 1 is also a business, right? But I just want to do the driving. That's why I'm here, he said.

Formula 1 is even planning an Olympics-style 'opening ceremony' to kick off the race weekend complete with international music acts and even Cirque du Soleil.

All 20 drivers must attend.

When asked about the American-style opening ceremony events, Alonso admitted: "They're not always our dream preparation before the race.

We know it's important for the sport but I think drivers, teams, even for you guys in the media, it's a very long season, a lot of travelling. We just go for racing, this is what we love, but the outside package is sometimes a little bit too much but we understand it, the 42-year-old added.