Max Verstappen has not had much positive to say about the Las Vegas Grand Prix but David Coulthard guarantees that if Red Bull’s triple Formula 1 World Champion wins the race on Saturday the champagne will taste just as good.
Even before the opening practice fiasco on Thursday that saw the session end near 4 AM (1200 GMT) after a loose man hole cover destroyed Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, Verstappen was unimpressed with the circuit calling it boring then adding “I’ve had better tracks in my life”.
But Coulthard, winner of 13 grands prix during his 15 seasons in F1, believes all will be forgiven if the Dutchman can win Saturday night’s race, which includes a spectacular stretch down the neon lit Strip, and take his career total to 53 victories leaving him joint third on the all-times list.
Only Lewis Hamilton (103) and Michael Schumacher (91) have won more.
“Even if Max is not enthusiastic as some others right now when he hits the track he is going to want to own it,” Coulthard, told Reuters after a charity poker event for Red Bull sponsor PokerStars where prizes included one off branded poker chip wheel covers that will be used in the Las Vegas race.
“He’s going to want to win and he will spray the champagne if he wins with the same enthusiasm as if it was his favourite track,” added the Scotsman.
A bumpy start
After a bumpy start to what is being viewed as one of the most important races ever for F1, teams up and down the paddock were asking for patience saying the event should be judged after the chequered flag on Saturday and not on what happened in the first 10 minutes of opening practice.
“At the end, this is a mega spectacle, it’s going to set a new standard for the sport and that’s important,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. “And then we have track action and a drain cover that’s become undone.
“It’s not new and that can happen. It’s a brand new circuit. It’s a shame for the people here but these things can happen,” he added.
Both Formula One owners Liberty Media and Las Vegas have invested heavily in bringing grand prix racing back to Sin City for the first time since 1982 and have much riding on the project being a success.
But it is Liberty Media, says Coulthard, who has a bit more at stake having invested hundreds of millions of its own money on real estate and infrastructure.
It is very much a different business model for Formula One which usually collects massive fees from promoters to host a race.
“I think it is arguably more important for Formula One owners Liberty because they’re the promoter,” said Coulthard. “That’s different from how they normally do it.
“It’s just nuts here. Even it’s not your cup of tea you can’t come here and say I don’t remember it. You’re going to remember Vegas,” he concluded. (Reporting by Steve Keating)