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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 18: Third placed qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing looks on in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas at Las Vegas Strip Circuit on November 18, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Verstappen: Go to Ibiza to get shit-faced not at a Grand Prix

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 18: Third placed qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing looks on in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas at Las Vegas Strip Circuit on November 18, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

If you want to party and get “shitfaced” go to Ibiza, suggests Max Verstappen who lamented the lack of appreciative and knowledgeable motorsport fans attending the Las Vegas Grand Prix this weekend.

The proverbial Sin City may have lots of great spots to drink, gamble and see a good show, but Formula One is a serious sport and not just another act on the Strip, F1’s biggest star said after putting his Red Bull second on the starting grid alongside Ferrari polesitter Charles LeClerc for Saturday night’s race.

Enimpressed Red Bull’s triple Formula 1 world champion Verstappen told reporters in Vegas after Qualy: “Of course, I understand the fans. They need something to do as well around a track. But I think it is more important you actually make them understand what we do as sport.

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“Most of them just come to have a party, drink, see a DJ play or watch a performance act. I can do that all over the world, go to Ibiza and get really shit-faced but that’s what happens. They don’t actually understand what we are doing or what we are putting on the line.”

Since arriving in Sin City for the much-hyped race, Verstappen has expressed his distain for the showbiz promotion around the event, reminding everyone he is first and foremost a racing driver.

Max: As a real racer the show shouldn’t really matter

Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix: Max verstappen As a real racer the show shouldn't really matter

While Las Vegas leaves 26-year-old Verstappen cold, it is motorsports’ traditional tracks like Spa and Monza that get him fired up. And until many of those with tickets to the Las Vegas race understand what it is that makes drivers tick, Formula 1 will remain a warm-up act for every other performer on the Strip.

If Verstappen wins on Saturday it would extend his single-season record to 18 victories and take his career total to 53, leaving him joint third on the all-time list. Only Lewis Hamilton (103) and Michael Schumacher (91) have won more.

Verstappen explained how his passion for the sport was sparked: “For me when I was a little kid it was about the emotion of the sport, it’s what I fell in love with and not the show. As a real racer the show shouldn’t really matter.

“When you go to Spa, these kinds of places, they have a lot of emotion and passion and for me seeing the fans there is incredible. When I jump in the car there I am fired up and I enjoy driving around these kinds of places.”

Las Vegas? Not so much – no matter how hard Verstappen tries to say otherwise: “I love Vegas, I love to go out have a few drinks throw everything on red, have some nice food. But the emotion, passion it’s not there like some old school tracks.” (Reporting by Steve Keating)