Demanding Las Vegas schedule forces Fernando Alonso into F1 request

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso in the post-qualifying press conference. Canada June 2023.

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso speaks to media .

Disagreeing with Max Verstappen’s take on the “clown” shown that was the opening ceremony for the Las Vegas GP, Fernando Alonso says he’d happily do more of that sort of event if F1 reduces the race weekend’s schedule.

Never mind the Las Vegas Grand Prix being a night race with a midnight qualifying and a 10pm Grand Prix, the drivers were given more duties as F1 and the race organisers put on an opening ceremony.

Featuring Kylie Minogue and will.i.am to name a few, the drivers were then introduced onto the stage to a light show.

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Verstappen did not enjoy the moment.

“For me, you can skip this,” said the reigning World Champion. “We are just standing up there, looking like a clown. I mean, yeah…”

He added: “I’m also not going to fake it, I just always voice my opinion on positive things and negative things. That’s just how I am.

“Some people like the show a bit more, I don’t like it at all.”

But given this is Formula 1’s first visit to Las Vegas since 1982, and comes at a reported cost of $500 million, Alonso says Formula 1 should bring on the spectacle.

He has a caveat for doing such events, the Aston Martin driver would suggest the sport reduced the race weekend schedule.

“I have to say that places like this one and with the investment that has been done on the place that we are racing, it deserves a little bit different treatment and a little bit extra show of what we did today or what the weekend is going to be,” he said.

“I’m okay to do an extra for these type of events, but maybe it could be balanced somehow and reduced maybe our schedule somewhere else.”

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Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc is also in favour of adding a dash of panache and showbiz drama to the sport.

He, however, hopes the racing lives up to it.

“I think there is room to do both [show and sport]. I hope we can do that this weekend,” he said as per Sky Sports.

“Of course, there has been a lot of show already with [the] opening ceremony. But we must not forget that it’s a beautiful sport but you must also attract new people to this beautiful sport.

“Then hopefully the racing action – which is obviously the most important [thing] and that what matters to me as much as it matters to Max – then lives up to the expectations.

“So the people that have been attracted by maybe other things and shows around the tracks then are interested in the actual racing and stays there for many other years in the future.

“I understand it and I’m happy that it’s that way. I don’t think every race should be like that but when you are in Vegas, (if) you don’t do that here you don’t do that anywhere.”

“But we always have to keep the DNA of the sport which is the most important [thing].”

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