Track action finished at 4am local time on Friday morning, three hours later than scheduled, after a delay caused by the need to inspect and make secure all the water valve covers around the track.
This followed the curtailment of FP1 after Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz struck a cover at high speed, which had been torn loose by Esteban Ocon’s Alpine, wrecking the underside of his car.
Domenicali and Wilm stressed that the decision to press on and run FP2 “was supported by all parties to ensure the sporting integrity of the remainder of the event,” while thanking drivers and teams for their patience.
Regarding the controversial matter of spectators being ejected from the venue an hour before the delayed FP2 session finally started, they confirmed that it was a result of staffing issues, mainly related to the hours that security and transportation workers were legally able to remain on duty.
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
Police eject fans from a grandstand
They say that has been addressed tonight should qualifying stray beyond its scheduled finishing time of 1am PT.
“The delay in the start of the second free practice session from midnight to 2.30am created risks for our employees and our fans,” said the statement. “We made the decision to close the fan areas that are under LVGP’s purview at 1.30am and send fans home.
“Let us explain why. 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.
“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 F1 races, that have been cancelled because of factors like weather or technical issues. It happens, and we hope people will understand.”
Explaining the changes introduced for Friday night, Domenicali…