F1 is in the desert this week for the first ever Las Vegas Grand Prix and boy oh boy it is not going well.
While the pre-race ceremonies have been generally successful, the on track issues started within literally 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.
The incident caused significant damage to Sainz’s car and as a result, F1 and race organizers shut down the practice session after just nine minutes on the track. While they did resume a 90-minute practice session at 2:30am, all of the fans who paid to watch the first practice had been removed from the grandstands.
Meaning that for many fans, they paid to watch nine minutes of practice, sit around for a few hours, and then be ushered out an hour before they resumed the session. Not a great night.
F1 realized that many would not be happy with how things were handled, and so issued a state late Friday night explaining their decision. And unsurprisingly, it was just as bad as the manhole cover mistake and the practice session
F1 Mistakes Piling Up
The full statement is lengthy and touches on the safety concerns they had over leaving fans in the stands past 2:30am.
But the short version is that they have no intention of refunding those fans who paid to see the first practice session and got nine minutes of racing. What?
“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.”
Vegas Grand Prix An Overpriced Mess
F1 and the Vegas organizers concluded by saying that they adjusted their 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.”
When the start of your signature, $500 million new race is this bad, it’s hard to be optimistic about the future of the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Max Verstappen has already discussed his distaste for the location, locals have been furious about the impact of months of construction, and ticket prices were exceptionally overpriced.
Now a car is damaged, resulting in a grid penalty for Ferrari that was inarguably not their fault. F1 made this bed, now they have to lie in it.