Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, known for his straightforward and candid expressions, did not mince words when delivering his verdict on the newly introduced circuit.
The inaugural day of on-track action at the Las Vegas GP faced a series of setbacks, turning what was anticipated to be a thrilling return to Sin City into a challenging start. During the first practice session (FP1), Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz hit a manhole cover, leading to Formula 1 abandoning the session. Sainz received a 10-place grid penalty for the incident, having to replace damaged parts.
Urgent repairs were also required for water valve covers around the circuit, causing a significant delay before the commencement of FP2. Formula 1 extended FP2 to a 90-minute session after the abbreviated FP1, allowing teams more time on the track. Despite the extended time, Verstappen found the track ‘slippery’ as he ventured out for FP2.
As the grip levels improved over the course of the extended session, Verstappen’s impression of the Las Vegas Strip Circuit remained unimpressed. When asked if the circuit, including the iconic Strip, was fun to drive, Verstappen provided a concise and direct response, stating, “No,” during an interview with Sky Sports F1.
In his assessment, Verstappen expressed his disappointment, noting, “I’ve had better tracks in my life. There’s nothing new that I discovered or whatever, you just get on with it.” The Dutch driver’s experience with the circuit included simulator sessions with Red Bull ahead of the Grand Prix, but it seems the real-world track did not leave a positive impression.
The uniqueness of the Las Vegas Strip Circuit lies not only in its debut on the Formula 1 calendar but also in the absence of a support series or pre-event test. Unlike other races, there was no opportunity for drivers to familiarize themselves with the track in racing conditions before the main event.
Despite Verstappen’s critical assessment, the possibility of him adding the Las Vegas GP to his list of victories remains. The three-time F1 champion secured a win at the Qatar GP in October, marking his success at a 24th different circuit in his career. While Lewis Hamilton holds the record with 31 wins at different circuits, Verstappen winning in Las Vegas would be a significant achievement, even if the circuit itself fails to earn his favor.