The Red Bull driver has made his frustrations clear about the razzmatazz surrounding the star-studded event, saying he was made to feel like a “clown” during a glitzy opening ceremony on Wednesday evening. 

Verstappen has also hit out at the brand new street track, which incorporates the world-famous Strip, saying he did not enjoy driving it after the first day of running. 

Speaking in the press conference after qualifying third behind the Ferrari duo, Verstappen jibed: “Monaco is like Champions League, this is National League.”

The triple world champion then went on a lengthy rant about lacking “emotion” and “passion” when he was asked for his view on F1’s latest showpiece event. 

“I can go on for a long time,” Verstappen said. “Of course the show element is important but I lack emotion. 

“For me when I was a little kid it was about the emotion of the sport, that’s what I fell in love with and not the show around it. As a real racer, I think that shouldn’t really matter. 

“A racing car on a street circuit anyway doesn’t really come alive. It’s not that exciting. I think it’s more about proper race tracks. When you go to Spa, Monza, these kinds of places they have a lot of emotion and passion. For me, seeing the fans there is incredible. And for me as well, when I jump in the car I’m fired up and I love driving around these kind of places. 

“Of course I understand the fans maybe need something to do as well around the track, but I think it’s more important that you make them understand what we do as a sport, because most of them just come to have a party, drink, see a DJ play or a performance act. 

"I can do that all over the world, I can go to Ibiza and get completely shitfaced and have a good time. People come and they become a fan of what? They want to see maybe their favourite artist and have a few drinks with their mates and they go out and have a crazy night out. 

“But they don’t actually understand what we are doing and what we are putting on the line to perform. If you would actually invest more time into the actual sport, what we’re actually trying to achieve here. As a little kid, we grew up wanting to be a world champion. 

“If the sport put more focus onto these kinds of things, and also explained more what the team is doing, what they are achieving, what they are working for. These kind of things I find way more important to look at than just having all these random shows all over the place. 

“For me, it’s not what I’m very passionate about and I lack passion and emotion with these kind of places. I love Vegas, but not to drive an F1 car. 

“I love to go out, have a few drinks, throw everything on red, to be a bit crazy and have nice food. But like I said, emotion, passion, it’s not there, compared to some old school tracks.” 

Leclerc and Sainz’s view 

Responding to the same question, polesitter Charles Leclerc said: “I was sad yesterday to see how much criticism there was around the track. 

“Of course it wasn’t good enough and that is clear to everybody but we must not forget how much work there has been, from many, many people, in order to make this event work. I think it looks amazing. I really hope we can have an exciting race tomorrow to really show what F1 is. 

“Yesterday was obviously a pretty bad start but I think it’s a pretty amazing venue for F1. We need to keep the DNA of the sport, which is the most important thing for everybody. 

“At the same time I believe opportunities like this need to be taken and a little bit of show around the track to attract people that maybe wouldn’t have come to a Formula 1 race, is needed.” 

Carlos Sainz, still unhappy about his controversial 10-place grid penalty, echoed Verstappen’s comments. 

“We need to learn to separate things,” he argued. “There is the sport and the show. You can both in a combination and harmony with the opening ceremony, with all the show around the grand prix. 

“The race has a very good opportunity for F1 and it’s a good thing that F1 is coming to Vegas and I am enjoying the experience of coming to Vegas to do a Formula 1 race. 

"I feel like as a sport we cannot fail in these important events. I feel like we started on the very back foot yesterday, and I think it was a very good opportunity to make a statement as a sport and open Vegas with a very good image and attraction to everyone. 

“I have people who have never come to a race still asking me why am I getting a penalty for what happened and they’ve never been to an F1 race. Very influential people, that are important. 

“But also all the fans that couldn’t attend yesterday in FP2, there’s separating the two things. I’m all for the show and the growing of the sport, but the sport has to be there.”