Las Vegas GP critics should keep their opinions to themselves – Magnussen

Formula 1

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Kevin Magnussen spoke out against drivers who criticised aspects of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, saying they should remember the sport’s success is why they are so well-paid.

Formula 1 spent heavily on the new event, investing up to $500 million to bring the series to the heart of Las Vegas. But some drivers were unhappy with the extra promotional work they had to do around the event and said the Las Vegas Strip Circuit offered little driving challenge.

Magnussen said they were wrong to criticise the efforts F1’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media is making to promote the series in the United States.

“It’s fine to have an opinion,” said the Haas driver. “Maybe you should keep it for yourself.

“At the end of the day we’re all on pretty good salaries, living a good life, and that’s all because of this. So at the end of the day maybe we should show a little bit more appreciation.”

One focal point of criticism was the opening ceremony drivers had to participate in on Wednesday, which Max Verstappen said made him feel like a “clown”. Another was the pre-race driver introduction, though this was not held as close to the start of the race as it was when F1 arranged a similar ceremony in Miami.

Daniel Ricciardo said the combination of media commitments and publicity assignments he participated in during the Las Vegas event was not as high as at some previous rounds.

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“I’ve definitely had worse weekends in the past with hours of media and that,” said the AlphaTauri driver. “It was definitely one of the busy ones but it wasn’t the craziest I’ve had.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Las Vegas Strip Circuit, 2023
Verstappen did not enjoy the Las Vegas GP pageantry
“I think if Thursday didn’t finish so late, I think the weekend would have felt somewhat okay. Certainly busy, but okay. I think Thursday was the tipping point. So that was that, I think otherwise it wasn’t wild.”

He also felt some drivers had gone too far with their criticism of the event. “We did that ceremony, but that didn’t take too much of our time. I know some drivers kicked off about it but I honestly think they were overexaggerating. It wasn’t that bad.

“So for how crazy the weekend could have been – don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for more – but it was manageable.”

One of the event’s most vocal critics was Verstappen, who described it as being “99% show, 1% sport” and called the new circuit a “National League” venue compared to “Champions League” Monaco. He avoided further criticism after winning the grand prix, and said the lively race was to be expected given the track’s layout.

“I always expected it to be a good race today,” said Verstappen. “It was, like I said before, four long straights, low speed corners, you don’t lose a lot of downforce. So that has never been my issue.

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“But today was fun. That’s the only thing I want to say about it – I think today was fun. I hope everyone enjoyed it. I think the DRS effect was strong but good. It made for fun racing out there.”

He even indulged in singing a chorus of “Viva Las Vegas” on his radio during the victory lap. “Christian [Horner, team principal] put me on the spot,” said Verstappen. “I cannot leave them hanging so I have to sing.”

Horner denied Verstappen had been told by F1 to rein in his criticism of the event. “No, I think his attitude] was adjusted by the race,” said Horner. “He will have enjoyed winning that race because he had to fight incredibly hard,” he added.

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38 comments on “Las Vegas GP critics should keep their opinions to themselves – Magnussen”

  1. “Pretty good” salaries. How out of touch can one be?

    Anyway, drivers have always been a big driver of engagement (as opposed to interest, which has more to do with the myth/concept of F1). Drivers not saying anything is the worst way to go. Like Alonso astutely observed, every drama needs it’s villains, it’s heroes, and the whole cast of archetypes.

    Much better to have them moan every now and then, than to be an anonymous person of whom people will say, “o yeah, I guess he was in F1 for a bit, too”.

    1. What is your argument? I don’t follow at all.

      1. Let me translate, if that’s really necessary. He said that it’s better (as in more interesting) to have drivers with genuine personality, and those not afraid to show it nor to speak their minds, than to have PR train robots who repeat PR texts like parrots; saying the “right” things. You know, things like: “What a beautiful venue, what a fantastic race. Big thanks go to my team, to the fans, to all my sponsors, I couldn’t have done this without your support. I cannot wait to be back here next year, in front of this wonderful crowd; definitely the best fans in the world. And what a great job Liberty, well done! Oh, by the way I’m for human rights and world peace. And don’t forget to use Google browser, Apple products, drink Coca Cola, protect yourself with NordVPN, gamble im MGM in Vegas…”. That’s a generic F1 driver of today. Isn’t it more interesting when they, at least at times, step out of this cliche and also say something that’s really on their minds? For example, is it such a blasphemy not to like some race, a location, or to just be feeling negative about something even if it’s a subjective matter?
        Sometimes that’s Verstappen. Sometimes that’s Alonso. And on rare occasions that is someone else. There’s are no guys like Senna, Prost, Schumacher, Lauda, Hunt, Villeneuve… Just bunch of boring robots. :) And when someone isn’t, he gets attacked by the whole organization, the media, and of course bunch of moralizing fans.

      2. If drivers don’t say anything, they have nothing for fans to latch on to. Nothing to get interested in, nothing to get excited about, nothing to be a bit partisan about. Every sport is better if it has intriguing stories and those need characters. Whether those are of newcomers, veterans, villains, heroes, the whole cast adds to the drama. And as always, different people like different things. But if none of drivers have much of a public personality, there’s nothing to work with.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the only thing most viewers can say about Magnussen is that he once used a juvenile ‘naughty word’ in a spat with his now-teammate. Like it or not, that’s the kind of stuff that works to engage an audience.

  2. Maybe he should follow his own advice before giving it to others:

    “It’s fine to have an opinion,” said the Haas driver. “Maybe you should keep it for yourself.


    1. Exactly, that was an arrogant and immature statement. I instantly stopped liking the guy.

      1. He certainly disqualified himself as to be taken seriously with this. Some dictator traits shown here. Haha, if an opinion doesn’t suit me it is better not expressed. Sign of the times.

  3. Sorry Kevin, the last thing I want is a grid full of tight-lipped robots who won’t speak out against anything for fear of being reprimanded by the people who pay their wages. Whatever you might think of Seb, Lewis and the like, they’ve been able to use their platform and visibility to move their causes forward, and I commend them for that.

  4. Magnussen, being in an American team, probably is forbidden to be negative about the team or the boss, as that is a very American thing

    In other counties however, some people and businesses are grown up and can deal with criticism.

    1. That’s not a very American thing. What are you on?

  5. Please no.. Maybe he feels that way considering the point in his career and the team he’s in, but I’d rather have drivers speaking out* instead of corporate puppets

    *on race related issues

    1. chim-chim-charoo
      21st November 2023, 22:10

      Yeah, I can’t stand when celebrities get political. It just ruins everything and often makes you not want to follow them anymore.

  6. If you have to go out of your way repeatedly to try and get people to think something is great then it perhaps actually isn’t.

    If something is good then people will naturaly come to that conclusion rather than having to have interested parties constantly tell them it’s all amazing.

  7. Weird argument.

  8. Think most of you are missing the point..lets say you’re point adjacent. Kevin is not suggesting that drivers should be silent about race-related issues: he’s talking about the show/business side of things. And he is absolutely correct that that show/business event is what generates incomes that run teams and pay salaries. Some die-hard “keep things the way they are” fans may not be open to change but a company like Liberty doesn’t invest billions to preside over a status quo: they want to grown the business.
    When you look at the markets that can afford to entertain an F1 race; the fact that the richest country was more or less on the sidelines was a HUGE opportunity that Liberty is trying to capitalize on. The next biggest economy, China, is also in need of some attention, though given geo-politics that might be tricky.
    Change is often uncomfortable and there will always be people whinging about it. Formula One is becoming less European: live with it!

    1. I will absolutely keep my opinions to myself.
      (And my money too.)

    2. Disney wanted to grow their business, and they big billion dollar franchise is now in trouble. maybe they needed a ‘Max Verstappen’ in their ranks instead of listening to yes men.

      Also, he referenced sprint races and Monaco through the weekend. There’s a direct sporting consequence to liberty’s decision making.

    3. F1 has always paid high salaries and generated plenty of income without weekends like Las Vegas. You make it sound like it was some kind of minor sport before the wonderous Liberty took over.

      Kevin’s argument is weak and he’s probably been told to say it because he drives for an American team.

  9. Didn’t this guy once say he was prepared to die on the racetrack, after nearly putting Pierre Gasly into the pitwall at 350 kph?

    Not the sharpest tool in the shed.

  10. Does this driver or his team even have any fans?

  11. So Kev gives his opinion on the fact that drivers should keep their opinions to themselves. I guess he missed the irony on that one.
    If drivers should keep their opinion to themselves, than cancel press conference.

    1. It’s pretty clear Kev meant negative opinions about the race. It is bad form for employees to trash their own company/product/event.

  12. Nicely said. The negativity of the RBR clan and its fans is just stupid.

    1. A fair chunk of comments supporting Max started with “I am not a Max fan but…”. Also, Max seems to be very much a lone voice within RBR criticizing what’s going on.

      it’s not ‘negativity’ either. It’s being positive about F1 and its tradition.

      1. Horner also was pretty negative. And no, Max was not positive in any way, when he ranted about LV.

        1. He was positive about F1 tradition, emotion and passion. Liberty are being negative about F1’s tradition.

          So negative/positive is a matter of perspective.

        2. @madmax
          That is not the complete story though. He said he loved Vegas as a party destination, going out, eating and gambling. He doesn’t like the track and he hates the show part they make the drivers do. I think he made a clear enough distinction between the two. And he went a bit further into the topic by pointing out that the current show they put on including artists and performers is making F1 more a sideshow to that. While it was meant to promote F1 to the American public. But they’re not showing what F1 is, not explaining anything. That was his gripe.
          I’d say he was more nuanced in his criticism on Vegas then on other subjects he voiced his opinion on. But what sticks with the media is the quick 99% show 1% sport quote. So that is what gets the attention

  13. A fair chunk of comments supporting Max started with “I am not a Max fan but…”. Also, Max seems to be very much a lone voice within RBR criticizing what’s going on.

    it’s not ‘negativity’ either. It’s being positive about F1 and its tradition.

  14. Tells you a lot about why Kevin is there, if his argument is basically about getting paid rather than anything related to the profession itself.

  15. So you have no opinions on suction and ball-shaped objects anymore? Well, it’s better to keep those to yourself I guess. If you like playing ball (no pun intended), then do it, but it’s none of your business if there are those that don’t feel like they have to. I thought that there was freedom of speech in Denmark, but you talk like a passionate member of a Chinese communist party. So Magnussen is one of those guys who like keeping others in line. I suppose that if he was a regular worker in some factory, he’d report on whistleblowers, act as a strikebreaker when needed etc.; that kind of a character. I didn’t think of him this way, but we live and we learn. So who’s allowed to have opinions Kev?

  16. Magnussen should take his own advice.

  17. Ah good old Kevin, spouting off about others spouting off. Seriously though, by that logic no one should criticise whatever organization they work within. Preeeeeetty slippery slope.

  18. Kevin’s comment comes across as completely and utterly missing the point. The time aspect was not something I saw any complaints about, it was the timing, the emphasis on “show” (that ended up damaging the race) and the poor handling of many aspects of the weekend (including some that affected the way the race was run as well as the race results, and at least one that’s already resulted in a lawsuit).

    There is a lot to criticise about the race – to the point where I think Las Vegans would be entitled to request a full refund and to tell F1 never to come back. If F1 wants more glamour and cross-promotion, let it be done by competent organisers and under a framework that at least tolerates the possibility of sport happening. Las Vegas 2023 was the opposite of all that, and a symbol of what is wrong with F1.

  19. All I can see is a bunch of people crying for no reason. It was a race like any other, actually it was better racing than Monaco.

  20. As an attendee of the race I can say the logistics were absolutely horrible. Yes I understand it’s a road coarse but the local police did an absolute atrocious job diverting traffic. Additionally as a pedestrian trying to get around it was a nightmare; averaged 20K steps each day. I also do not understand the ridiculous start times. Unwatchable in most of the world. Finally no supplementary races which made all the down time very boring. I’ll go back to Miami next year.

  21. Wasn’t that long ago drivers demanding “free speech”.
    Stefano saying they won’t be silenced. Norris we don’t have to ask first before we speak.
    KMAG “pay up and shut up!”
    That’s fine no problem with him saying whatever he wants. It will influence my future decisions. My scales are tipping.

  22. I would counter that those being paid to say only good things should keep their opinions to themselves.

  23. Worrying this is coming from a racing driver. Criticism is at its place here Kevin, overdue and urgently needed as well. He clearly is not able to distinguish sport and show. Much to the liking of Liberty for sure. This is exactly what they are after. Surely some level of entertainment is welcome for this very little group (compared to the global audience) visiting a venue. But the rest of the world is tuning in to see a sporting event.

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