In the glitzy backdrop of Las Vegas, Max Verstappen, Formula 1’s triple world champion, found himself at odds with the spectacle surrounding him. The Red Bull racer’s discontent with the event’s focus on entertainment over sport became the subject of attention, with his team and manager stepping in to defend his stance.
Verstappen’s candid remarks on the Las Vegas experience reflected a simmering frustration which didn’t get better once he pulled down his visor in the dead of the night. “I didn’t have much fun today,” he admitted, following a session that ended at 4am without spectators or staff serving champagne. His critique of the track was unambiguous: “I’ve driven better ones in my life… But we move on.”
Giedo van der Garde, a former F1 driver, attributed Verstappen’s discontent to the artificial “show” elements overshadowing the racing. Speaking on Viaplay, he described Verstappen’s straightforward approach: “All he wants to do is drive laps, win the race and go home.”
Christian Horner, Red Bull team boss, echoed this sentiment, highlighting Verstappen’s disinterest in the fanfare. “He hates all the pomp and hype. He just wants to drive a racing car,” Horner revealed.
Raymond Vermeulen, Verstappen’s manager, pointed out another significant factor – exhaustion at the season’s end. “Max is pure, true to himself and he just says what he thinks,” Vermeulen commented to De Telegraaf. He stressed the importance of appreciating Verstappen’s frank nature in a sport increasingly tilting towards entertainment.
Vermeulen also shed light on the grueling schedule that has left Verstappen and many in his team drained. Detailing the hectic travel itinerary – from Brazil to England, France, Switzerland, and then to Las Vegas, he painted a picture of a relentless PR and racing schedule that takes its toll.
“We come home on Monday and then another PR day awaits in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday in the run-up to the last race,” Vermeulen continued, highlighting the non-stop nature of their commitments. He listed a series of events post the season’s end, culminating in a brief break before preparations for the next season begin.
Vermeulen’s concluding remarks underscored the personal challenge faced by Verstappen. “That’s not easy for a 26-year-old boy,” he said. Despite acknowledging the financial rewards, he emphasized that there’s more to the life of a top-tier racing driver than just money.