After a hiatus of over 40 years, Formula One racing is making a grand return to Las Vegas, bringing with it a spectacle of lights, celebrities, and high-speed action. However, not all are dazzled by the city's glitzy embrace of the sport.
A Blend of Showbiz and Speed
The opening ceremony of the event was a star-studded affair, featuring performances by Kylie Minogue, Journey, and John Legend, set against a backdrop of fireworks and a massive F1 logo. The race paddock itself mirrors the city's renowned extravagance, complete with Elvis impersonators, a "no money" casino, a wedding chapel, and neon-lit team names.
Yet, this blend of showbiz and sport hasn't impressed everyone. Red Bull's three-time world champion, Max Verstappen, expressed his reservations to reporters. “I think it is 99% show, 1% sport,” Verstappen remarked, according to Reuters.
“But I’m not going to fake it. It’s not really my thing. Some people like a show, I don’t like it at all”. Despite Verstappen's stance, the Las Vegas Grand Prix marks a significant moment for Formula One, celebrating its first race in the city since 1982.
The event is set on a temporary street circuit along the famous Las Vegas Strip, adding a unique dimension to the race.
Diverse Reactions Among Drivers
Not all drivers share Verstappen’s perspective. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz conveyed a more enthusiastic outlook.
Leclerc, speaking to Sky Sports, acknowledged the importance of balancing the spectacle with the sport's integrity. “There is room to do both [show and racing],” he said. Sainz, on a lighter note, shared his enjoyment of the week's events, despite a minor mishap with a trophy.
The race, featuring 50 laps around the 3.8-mile street circuit, promises to be a blend of night-time glamour and intense competition. McLaren’s Lando Norris summed it up: “I guess it feels a little bit different, a night race and a lot of glamor, but inside, it’s just another race weekend”.
As the drivers gear up for Saturday's race, the spotlight isn't just on the glittering city but also on the season's dominant force, Verstappen, and his rivals, including teammate Sergio Pérez and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who is vying for his first win of the year.