Max Verstappen delivers crushing verdict on ‘National League’ Las Vegas track after ‘clown’ criticism

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen, Red Bull

F1 World Champion Max Verstappen in action at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen has revealed he is no fan of the Las Vegas Grand Prix circuit either, claiming F1’s newest track is more “National League” compared to Monaco’s “Champions League.”

Verstappen has been vociferous in his criticism of the Las Vegas race, claiming he was made to feel like a “clown” during the opening ceremony on Wednesday.

The Red Bull driver doubled down on his view after qualifying third behind Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, arguing that Vegas lacks the “emotion” of heartland F1 venues such as Spa and Monza.

Max Verstappen’s dim view of Las Vegas F1 circuit

Verstappen turned to football when asked how a flat-out lap in Vegas compares to Monaco, claiming the new circuit is “National League” compared to the elite challenge of Monte Carlo.

Likening the track to the high-speed Baku circuit in Azerbaijan, Verstappen said: “I think Monaco is like Champions League, this is National League.”

Verstappen’s view was echoed by polesitter Leclerc, who feels Vegas poses a very different – but still enjoyable – challenge.

He said: “It’s a bit of a different feeling than Monaco.

“Monaco is so intense you’ve got no time to think, it’s just from one corner to the other. The walls are extremely close and there are no ways out apart from two or three corners around Monaco. All the others, you do a mistake, you’re out of line, no grip, the wall and that’s it.

“Here’s a bit different. You’ve got ways out and the grip is so low that even if you get out of the line, it’s not that you’re losing a lot of grip. The grip is low everywhere. So you can still recover a little bit.

“I think it feels a lot more like Baku with more kerb riding, which I like. We’ve got a good car on kerbs, so Turns 7, 8, 9 feel really, really good.

“And I actually really enjoy this section where you can ride on kerbs and also position your wheel in a clever way, trying to hook your wheel inside the kerb and these are things that I like and it’s a very technical track there. So I really enjoy it.”

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Sainz, who will start 12th after incurring a 10-place grid penalty, added: “It’s similar in a way to Baku: very long straights, very high-braking circuit, very high-braking scenario, where you have to really push yourself to break those five-10 metres later and gain the lap time.

“Monaco is more about the flow and, in particular, in Monaco you have the apex walls that you try and just almost clip them in the qualifying lap.

“Here, apart from Turn 3 there’s not any real wall where you can get very close to an apex and hug the apex like you do in Monaco, which gives the driver the thrill a lot more.

“So obviously here it’s more and more overtaking opportunities, more open to Monaco but I struggle to believe any circuit in the world will give you the feeling that a Monaco or even, for example, Macau in F3 would give a driver.”

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