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Las Vegas Grand Prix like the 'National League' of racing, Max Verstappen says

The Formula One world champion has compared this weekend's Las Vegas Grand Prix to the fifth tier of English football, while suggesting fans just want to get "s***-faced".

Max Verstappen will start from second on the grid on Sunday after being outpaced by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in the first Sin City race in 40 years.

He had earlier called the race: "99% show, and 1% sport".

Formula One billed this weekend's street circuit event as the greatest show on Earth, but instead it has been plagued with delays and low turnouts.

On Friday, crowds saw just eight minutes of racing during practice, after a loose manhole cover tore a hole in Carlos Sainz's Ferrari.

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The session resumed at 4am local time, surrounded by empty grandstands.

On Saturday, officials predicted 100,000 fans would line the Las Vegas streets, but only 70,000 turned up to watch qualifying, which began at midnight local time.

Speaking after Saturday's qualifying, Verstappen said: "Monaco is Champions League and this is National League."

"I feel like the show 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. As a real racer, the show shouldn't matter.

"An F1 car does not come alive on a street circuit. It is not that exciting. It is about proper racetracks. And when you go to Monza and Spa, these kinds of places have a lot of emotion and passion, and for me seeing the fans there is incredible.

"When I jump in the car, I am fired up. I love driving at these kind of places."

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He continued: "I understand fans need things to do around the track, but it is more important that they understand what we do as a sport. Most of them just come to have a party, drink, see a DJ, or a performance act.

"I can do that all over the world. I can go to Ibiza and get completely s***-faced and have a good time. People come here, but they become a fan of what?

"They want to see maybe their favourite artist and have a few drinks with their mates, and then go out and have a crazy night.

"But they don't understand what we are doing, and they don't understand what we are putting on the line to perform."

The three-time world champion said he was made to feel like a "clown" during the opening ceremony-style event on Wednesday, where the drivers were introduced on an elevating platform.

He added: "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 an F1 car. I love to go out, have a few drinks, throw everything on red and be crazy, but emotion and passion is not there compared to the old-school tracks."