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Max Verstappen

F1 to make crucial Las Vegas changes to prevent Verstappen criticism

Max Verstappen was heavily critical of last season's inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix. Changes are being made to make him change his tune this year.

Verstappen Las Vegas
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Las Vegas Grand Prix organisers have vowed to "tone down" the volume of pre-race activity ahead of this year's return to Sin City after recognising an over-the-top element to last season's inaugural race which infuriated Max Verstappen.

There was considerable fanfare in the build-up to the event in which F1 served as promoters for the first time in the sport's history after spending $650 million on the purchase of land and construction of the facilities around a circuit that incorporates the famous Strip.

To get bang for their buck, F1 asked the drivers to engage in numerous promotional events, which included a lavish pre-race show during which each team's pair were presented to a packed main grandstand via a raised dias that appeared in towers dotted along the straight.

Three-time F1 champion Verstappen was the event's most outspoken critic, describing all the glitz, glamour and razzmatazz of an F1 grand prix in Las Vegas as "99 per cent show, one per cent sporting event".

By the end of the weekend, and after another Verstappen victory, the Red Bull driver had at least changed his tune to a certain degree as he could be heard singing 'Viva Las Vegas' over the team radio on his cool-down lap.

Emily Prazer, chief commercial officer for F1 and the Las Vegas GP, has promised Verstappen, and all the other drivers, they will not be subjected to such a heavy promotional programme again this year.

'They didn't understand what they were walking into'

At a select media roundtable event in Monaco with the Las Vegas GP's founding partners, asked by RacingNews365 whether driver feedback had been taken on board going into the second year of the event, Prazer said: "There was one particular driver who was very vocal that weekend, but I think we all saw by the end of it that he was singing 'Viva Las Vegas' on the radio.

"They (the drivers) had different stresses in the new race as well. They'd never driven the track, they didn't understand what they were walking into.

"That being said, on the flip side, they were incredibly supportive in the build-up, doing promotions with us to help get the race up and running. They took part in our opening ceremony without complaint.

"I think there were a bit of nerves, and going into the weekend there was a lot for them to do. But none of them didn't participate in activities we asked them to do.

"We're definitely going to tone it down a little this year. We definitely did way too much with them last year, but they were dancing around Miami (the recent grand prix) wearing Las Vegas Grand Prix merchandise, so I think they like it."

Also interesting:

Is Ocon's future now in danger after the incident in Monaco? And has the track become too outdated for F1? In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding look back at last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix. Tune in below!

Rather watch than listen to the podcast? Click here.

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