Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19 during the Las Vegas GP at Streets of Las Vegas on Saturday November 18, 2023, United States of America. (Photo by Zak Mauger / LAT Images)

Formula 1 News: Unfiltered Verstappen needs to learn diplomacy

Young Max Verstappen may be the greatest race driver in history, but knowing when to be diplomatic is something he has yet to master.

(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has defended Max Verstappen’s foul mood throughout the Las Vegas GP weekend – even though his spirits lifted with an exciting race and victory in the dead of Saturday night.

Dutchman Verstappen had said he felt like a “clown” for Formula 1’s new spectacle that was “99 percent show and 1 percent sport”, attacking the event from every angle.

But the actual race at least delivered on the promise of a thrilling and close wheel-to-wheel contest.

“The sport had to deliver on the track today and it was achieved,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said. “In the end, even Max enjoyed it.”

Indeed, the new reigning triple world champion even sang ‘Viva Las Vegas’ into his radio after the conquered flag – whilst wearing Elvis-themed racing overalls.

But it came after a long weekend of criticism from Verstappen’s mouth.

“I always said that we should only draw a conclusion after the race,” Red Bull team advisor and key Verstappen ally Marko, 80, told De Telegraaf.

“And the race was fantastic.”

Max Verstappen in his Elvis Suit
Max Verstappen in his Elvis Suit

For his part, Verstappen said he “always expected” the actual racing to be exciting with all the long straights, cold track temperatures and new low-grip asphalt.

“That has never been my issue,” he insisted. “But yeah, today was fun. That’s the only thing I want to say about it.”

His old 2021 title nemesis Lewis Hamilton, however, could not resist a jibe at all of Verstappen’s weekend-long negativity.

“I think for all those who were so negative about the weekend, saying it was all about the show, blah blah blah, I think Vegas proved them wrong,” said the Mercedes driver.

Even Haas driver Kevin Magnussen criticized Verstappen.

“It’s good to have an opinion,” he told Ekstra Bladet newspaper. “But maybe you can keep it to yourself sometimes.

“At the end of the day, we all make pretty good money and live the good life. And it’s because all of this,” the Dane added in Las Vegas.

“Maybe we should appreciate it a little more.”

Marko admits Verstappen had let his tongue wag a little too freely at the end of a long season.

“Max is very straightforward but perhaps he could have said things a bit more diplomatically. But he’s now made up for everything. I’m sure the organizers are very happy with him now,” said the Austrian.

“You also have to consider that we are at the end of the season. Everyone is tired, all the employees here were struggling with jet lag and bags under their eyes.

“Max Verstappen generally doesn’t like all the marketing and PR hassle and 80 percent of our sponsors are American and all here. I think his reaction would have been different if we had been here more at the start of the season,” Marko added.

“All’s well that ends well,” he said. “A race like this once a year is fine.”

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