Max Verstappen pulled no punches in the aftermath of qualifying at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, first hitting out at Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff over his comments about the FP1 water valve incident before taking aim at the sprint race concept in a cheeky dig at F1 and Liberty Media bosses.
The Dutchman has been in a fiery mood all weekend as he continues to protest the execution of the Las Vegas GP and the wider direction that F1 bosses and Liberty Media are steering the sport towards.
He also took exception to the penalty handed to Carlos Sainz. The Ferrari driver suffered major damage after a water valve was sucked into the underside of his SF-23 during FP1 on Friday. This led to the abandonment of the session and a ten-place grid penalty for the Spaniard for a new power unit.
According to Mercedes boss Wolff, this wasn’t a big deal. In an incensed rant at a journalist during the Friday press conference, he fumed: “Completely ridiculous. [It’s FP1, how can you dare try to talk bad about an event that sets the new standards to everything? And then you’re speaking about a f***ing drain cover that’s been undone.
“That’s happened before. It’s nothing. It’s FP1. Give credit to the people that have set up this Grand Prix, that have made this sport much bigger than it ever was.”
Discussing his comments with Viaplay ahead of qualifying, Verstappen replied brutally: “That is of course true, that it happened before, but you are supposed to learn from that. You know that when you go to a street circuit, such things cause problems. So you should be prepared for that.
“And I think if this was his car, he would have spoken differently, but I don’t expect anything less from him. We would have been very angry too, like Ferrari. Absolutely, that entire car is f***ed.”
The Mercedes team principal wasn’t the only one in the firing line for Verstappen. After putting his RB19 on the front row of the grid for the Grand Prix, the three-time world champion managed to fit in another dig at the sprint race format that he has so vehemently opposed.
Discussing his chances of launching an attack on polesitter Charles Leclerc during the race, he said: “We will have to wait and see tomorrow. That’s the beautiful thing, there’s no sprint race to find out.”