F1’s long-awaited spectacle on the streets of the gambling haven of America got off to a disrupted start on Thursday when Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari suffered huge damage after striking the a loose water valve cover after just eight minutes into FP1.
The session was abandoned as track workers were forced to remove all 30 covers around the 6.2km circuit and fill them with sand and asphalt, which led to a 2h30m delay of FP2.
By the time second practice got underway at 2:30am local time, fans and hospitality guests had already been removed from the event due to limitations on logistics and labour laws, souring what should have been F1’s triumphant arrival in its dream destination city.
F1 and the Las Vegas Grand Prix released several statements explaining the situation. But rather than offering an apology or refund, fans who only hold a Thursday ticket, and therefore only got to see eight minutes of practice, were given $200 vouchers to spend in the event’s online merchandise store.
“There is no higher priority at a Formula 1 race than the safety and security of drivers, fans and staff alike,” the message sent to single-day ticket holders read.
“Following last night’s incident involving a water valve cover, the Las Vegas Grand Prix, F1 and the FIA were faced with the difficult decision to close the fan zones prior to the beginning of Free Practice 2.
“We appreciate your patience while we remedied the situation. This was not a decision we took lightly. As a thank you for your support, we would like to offer you a $200 voucher to the Las Vegas Grand Prix Official Shop.
“With a full round of practice successfully completed, we look forward to providing a safe and entertaining race weekend for all.”
Photo by: Erik Junius
Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43
In an earlier statement released on Friday afternoon, Las Vegas Grand Prix CEO Renee Wilm provided more details on why fans were asked to leave from 1:30am.
“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,” read the statement.
“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…