Chaotic Opening Night at Las Vegas Grand Prix
Formula One Offers Compensation to Fans
LAS VEGAS — Formula One has issued a statement to address the chaotic opening night of the Las Vegas Grand Prix and has offered compensation to fans who held single-day tickets. The statement comes after a water valve cover incident caused significant damage to Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and resulted in extensive delays to the night’s schedule.
The incident occurred just eight minutes into the opening practice session on Thursday evening, causing a disruption that required late-night repairs. As a result, fans were asked to leave the venue due to security workers’ shifts ending before the resumption of track action at 2:30 a.m.
The joint statement, released by F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and Las Vegas Grand Prix CEO Renee Wilm, provided a detailed explanation of the events but did not include a direct apology to ticketholders, some of whom had spent up to $50,000 on three-day passes.
Despite the lack of an apology, the statement compared the incident to other failed sport and entertainment events, suggesting that such occurrences are not uncommon.
The disastrous opening day, which eventually featured an extended 90-minute track session until 4 a.m. in front of empty grandstands, followed months of hype from Formula One, including claims that the Las Vegas Grand Prix had the potential to be “the greatest show on earth”.
In a subsequent statement posted on Friday night, Formula One confirmed that those with one-day tickets for Friday would receive a $200 voucher for race merchandise. However, there has been no announcement regarding refunds or discounts for three-day ticket holders.
Unlike other events on the calendar, the Las Vegas Grand Prix is being promoted directly by Formula One, which has invested over $500 million in preparations, including the purchase of a $240 million parcel of land near the famous Strip to build the pit and paddock complex.
The full statement from Formula One emphasized their commitment to safety and security, with responsibility for the event falling on Formula One as the commercial rights holder, the FIA as the regulatory body, and the local promoter, the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
The statement explained that the water valve cover incident led to the early end of the first Free Practice session. To ensure the safety of drivers, trackside marshals, officials, and fans, a precautionary measure was taken to remove and fill all water valve covers on the entire track with sand and asphalt. This process took approximately five hours.
The decision to proceed with the second Free Practice session at 2:30 a.m. was supported by all parties involved to maintain the integrity of the event. Formula One expressed gratitude to the drivers, mechanics, and teams for their patience and commitment during the session.
Regarding the fan experience, Formula One acknowledged the risks posed by the delay in the start of the second Free Practice session and made the decision to close the fan areas under the Las Vegas Grand Prix’s purview at 1:30 a.m. for safety and security reasons. This allowed public safety officials to rest, transportation employees to comply with legal driving limits, and hospitality staff to clean and resupply guest areas.
Formula One acknowledged the disappointment caused by the incident but hoped that fans would understand the need to balance various interests, including safety and security, throughout the race weekend. The statement also highlighted that cancellations due to weather or technical issues are not uncommon in events like concerts, games, and other Formula One races.
To address the situation, Formula One made overnight adjustments to staffing plans across security, transportation, and hospitality to ensure the best possible experience for fans in the event of an extended race schedule.
Formula One expressed excitement about the upcoming races and extended gratitude to the entire team and fans for their support, assuring them that the Las Vegas Grand Prix would still be a great event.