Formula 1 is hosting the first-ever Las Vegas Grand Prix but it isn’t going as per the plan. The pre-race ceremonies have been generally successful but the on-track issues started literally within few minutes of the first practice session. Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz ran over a drain cover that was not able to handle the massive downforce generated by F1 cars.
During a Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix practice session, Sainz’s car was significantly damaged due to an incident, causing the session to be halted after just nine minutes. Although the practice resumed later, all the fans who had paid to watch the first practice were removed from the stands.
The moment Carlos Sainz hit a drain cover on the Las Vegas strip, causing FP1 to be cancelled 👀 pic.twitter.com/KIMbuZoteY
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) November 17, 2023
This meant that the fans only got to watch nine minutes of Las Vegas Grand Prix practice , wait for hours, and then leave one hour before the session resumed. F1 acknowledged that many fans would be unhappy with how the situation was handled and issued a statement late Friday night explaining their decision. However, the statement was just as bad as the mistake made with the manhole cover and the practice session.
The full statement is lengthy but the short version is that they have no intention of refunding those fans who paid to see the Las Vegas Grand Prix first practice session and got nine minutes of racing.
“Now, let us turn to the fan experience,” the statement reads. “We made the decision to close the fan areas that are under LVGP’s purview at 1:30 AM PT and send fans home.”
“First, we were concerned about our public safety and security officials who had been in service for a long time and who are being asked to work for the next three nights. We thank Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Department of Public Works and other public safety officials for their incredible support during the event and also as we re-opened the track early this morning.
“Second, we were concerned about our transportation employees who are responsible for driving our fans back to hotels. By Federal law, they were bumping up against the amount of time they can legally and safely drive buses.
“Finally, our hospitality staff needed the ability to clean and resupply our guest areas to ensure that the fan experience is optimal for everyone over the coming days.
“We know this was disappointing. We hope our fans will understand based on this explanation that we had to balance many interests, including the safety and security of all participants and the fan experience over the whole race weekend.
“We have all been to events, like concerts, games and even other Formula 1 races, that have been cancelled because of factors like weather or technical issues. It happens, and we hope people will understand.”
F1 and the organizers in Vegas adjusted plans to better accommodate Friday night’s schedule.
“We have worked overnight to adjust our staffing plans across security, transportation and hospitality to ensure that we can function and serve fans with the best possible experience in the event of an extended race schedule.
“We are excited about the racing today and thank our entire team and our fans for their support. We know this is going to be a great event. With that let’s get back to racing.”