From lamenting a “clown” show to singing “Viva Las Vegas”, Jolyon Palmer believes Max Verstappen’s negative attitude towards the Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend was “embarrassing”.
As Formula 1 arrived in Las Vegas for the first time in over 40 years there were concerns the hype would outshine the racing.
Verstappen was one of the biggest naysayers in the paddock as he said the drivers looked “like clowns” in the opening ceremony on Wednesday night while declaring after second practice that he’d “seen better tracks in my life”.
From ‘shambles’ to ‘Viva Las Vegas’ for Max Verstappen
His criticism continued after qualifying when he said the race was “99% show, 1% race”, adding: “Monaco is Champions League and this is National League.”
But less than 24 hours and with an 18th Grand Prix win for this season to his name, he was belting out “Viva Las Vegas” as he returned to the pits as the Las Vegas Grand Prix race winner.
Palmer says it was “embarrassing” for Verstappen.
“Honestly, some of the comments before this weekend, even during this weekend, the negativity has been embarrassing. Max has been very critical of the event and it’s been a tremendous success,” he told the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast.
“We say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It’s blooming delicious.
“I think the best Grand Prix of the year, certainly is in the top few. And it was a big crowd. Okay, some of the American tastes isn’t for everyone, big introductions.
“But I remember when I was racing at Silverstone, all the drivers were mandated to go to London on the Wednesday before to go and do some loop de loops up Trafalgar Square. And it was a fun event, but we had to do it. [Lewis] Hamilton famously didn’t turn up.
“But that wasn’t really a problem. But heading down to the centre of London, an hour and a half, two hours away from Silverstone, to go and do that, I think it was on the Wednesday night.
“Sometimes when you have a big event, you have to promote them a little bit. It’s the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, and I know there’s a lot of razzmatazz and I know sometimes the US way of things, the big driver introductions that we’ve had in the past, aren’t always to everyone’s taste.
“But the F1 in the US is booming, two of the last Grand Prix that we’ve had before this year have been great, Austin and then this one.
“I just think let’s wait until you have the race to see if we think it’s good or not. And generally, it’s great.
“You can’t one minute say this is a shambles, this race, if Monaco is Champions League then this is National League, and then 50 laps later you’re singing ‘Viva Las Vegas’ in an Elvis suit. Come on.”
Palmer reckons Saturday night’s Grand Prix was the race of the season.
“The race started with aplomb and a move for the lead and loads of incidents further back. And then it finished on the last lap.
“There was a move for second place. I’d love it if it had been a move for the lead. But of course, Verstappen in 2023 is winning everything.
“I don’t see another race beating this one.”