The Las Vegas GP weekend got underway with an extensive media day where all the talk was about the city spectacle.
The most anticipated F1 weekend of the year (for some, anyway) is finally here, and media day in Las Vegas had the driver’s tongues wagging about the off-track spectacle just as much as the on-track demands and in-car technicalities.
But while most chose a diplomatic line, let’s just say Max Verstappen had no problem with airing his views. Let’s catch up on all the latest F1 news as the Las Vegas Grand Prix roars into life!
Max Verstappen isn’t a fan of Las Vegas’ F1 driver introductions
A Wednesday night show in Las Vegas featured musicians like Kylie Minogue, will.i.am and Thirty Seconds to Mars, while every driver and team was introduced as they stood on tall platforms surrounded by a light show.
While some of the more extroverted personalities on the grid are embracing the showbiz side of the weekend, it’s safe to say Max Verstappen is not impressed by the fanfare.
“For me, you can skip this,” said the reigning World Champion. “We are just standing up there, looking like a clown. I mean, yeah…
“Some people like the 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.
“We are not a stakeholder, so we just go with it. 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 would do with it what I want if that would be the case.”
Las Vegas Sphere to avoid using colours crucial to F1 racing
The now-infamous Las Vegas Sphere will be visible for the drivers while on track this weekend, although most doubt that it will be any more distracting than any other trackside attraction at any venue.
However, to ensure that there can be no potential misunderstandings or subconscious changes to their driving, the Sphere won’t use any of the all-important colours used by F1 during a live track session.
This means that red, yellow, and blue won’t feature on the Sphere during the times drivers are on track – these being the most commonly used flag colours during a race session.
Lewis Hamilton sends message to Las Vegas locals
With F1 rolling into town and disrupting pretty much everything for everyone on the ground in the city, Lewis Hamilton has sent a message to those who are perhaps a little put out by a sport they’ve no interest in commandeering their home.
“I’ve heard there’s been a lot of complaints about the event being here from the locals,” Hamilton told Sky Sports.
“I think we have to be respectful of the locals here, so many people working so hard – there’s a lot of money and wealth in this city.
“We’ve got to make sure people are taken care of. We can’t be a circus that shows up that’s all glitz and glamour and people are affected negatively by it, in my opinion.”
Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei has also apologised for the extensive disruption, saying he’s hopeful that now construction is behind them, things will be smoother in future.
“I want to apologise to all the Las Vegas residents and we appreciate that they have their forbearance and their willingness to tolerate us,” Maffei said.
Aston Martin sell off a chunk of their F1 team
Lawrence Stroll has sold off a bit of his F1 team to investment company Arctos Partners, although the exact percentage and value of the investment have not been publicly disclosed by either party.
Representatives for Arctos also declined to comment on the scale of the sale when approached for comment by PlanetF1.com.
As well as the financial benefit of the sale, Aston says Arctos will provide “deep sports industry knowledge and a robust network of influential relationships to support its continued growth.” The US-based investment firm has a number of other sporting ventures including MLB, the NBA, MLS, NHL, and European football.
Arctos has stakes in at least 20 different sports teams and disclosed assets of $6.64 billion as of the end of 2022.
F1 drivers speak out on extent of expected commitments
Aside from the already bulging F1 racing schedule, the off-track commitments and media expectations of the drivers has some of the leading stars of the sport hinting that changes are required.
Speaking on the Las Vegas media day, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, and Fernando Alonso all made calls for change, with Sainz going into plenty of detail as to his thinking.
“Let’s say there are some things that you are looking forward to more than others,” Carlos Sainz said on the matter.
“That is always the case. I do believe, looking forward and looking into the future, we’re going to need to reconsider, a bit, the way we go racing at the weekends because our schedules are getting busier and busier every year that goes by. The weekends are almost starting earlier, rather than starting later.
“We are adding races to the calendar and it’s getting to a point where I think, sometimes, everything feels a bit repetitive and everything feels a bit overpacked and we’re trying maybe to overdo it a bit. So yeah, being constructive or trying to be critically constructive.
“There are things that I actually think they do a lot for the sport and it’s good to put on a show and to make the sport better. Then, on the other hand, there are other things that feel very repetitive and almost they don’t add any more for the weekend.
“And we need to reconsider the way we just shape the whole weekend. Because yeah, we are at the risk of being too repetitive and too out there, also. I’ll keep the details obviously to myself and my team and F1, but I think that’s my overall opinion.”