Daniel Ricciardo has accused Max Verstappen of “trying to rebel” with his damning verdict of the Las Vegas Grand Prix. The three-time world champion did not hold back with his opinion on the race before going on to win for the 18th time this season.
Controversy hit Vegas in the first practice session on Friday, which lasted only eight minutes. Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari caused a manhole cover to come loose and damaged his car in the process.
It wasn’t a good start for the authorities to the inaugural race at the street track. Verstappen was one of the most vocal critics, comparing Monaco’s track to the Champions League and Vegas to the National League.
The Red Bull driver also said it lacked the emotion of a classic Grand Prix. But Ricciardo believes the likes of Verstappen were over-exaggerating their views and secretly were loving it.
The Aussie told a Q&A in the Qatar Airways Paddock Club suite at the weekend: “A few drivers have been a little bit ‘whatever’ about it. I think they’re just trying to rebel. Deep down they really like it, they just don’t want to admit it.”
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When asked which driver he was alluding to, Ricciardo sarcastically replied “[He has] a really long first name,” in reference to Verstappen.
Verstappen started the race second on the grid but again came out on top to extend his unassailable lead in the driver standings. He sang “Viva Las Vegas” as he crossed the finishing line, hinting that Ricciardo may have been correct with his accusation.
Verstappen’s public verdict before the race was different though. He claimed more time should be invested into the sport rather than the “show”.
He said: “I feel like a show element is important, but I like emotion. When I was a little kid, it was all about the emotion of the sport that I fell in love with and not the show.
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“As a real racer, the show shouldn’t matter. Of course I understand fans need something to do around the track, but it is more important we make them understand what we do about the sport.
“As a little kid, I grew up wanting to become a world champion. More time should be invested into the actual sport, and what we are trying to achieve.
“The sport should explain what the team has done throughout the season, and what they are working for. That’s way more important than having these random shows all over the place. I am not passionate about that. I like passion and emotion.
“I love Vegas, but not to drive a F1 car; to go out, throw everything on red, whatever. But the emotion and passion is not there compared to some old-school tracks.”
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