Formula One experienced a chaotic weekend as the Las Vegas Grand Prix premiered.
After approximately nine minutes of practice on Thursday, driver Carlos Sainz Jr. ran over a water valve cover, causing severe damage to his Ferrari and closing the course for about two-and-a-half hours as F1 employees inspected the track, according to the Associated Press.
When practice was ready to resume at 2:30 a.m., fans were asked to leave the viewing areas while drivers continued to practice until 4 a.m.
“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,” a statement explaining the decision from Renee Wilm, CEO of the Las Vegas Grand Prix (LVGP), and Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Formula 1, stated in the LVGP press release. “…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,” the statement continued, “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.”
Those fans have since filed a lawsuit against the Las Vegas Grand Prix and Liberty Media in Nevada state court for over $30,000 in damages under the representation of a Las Vegas-based law firm, reported WFAA.
Single-night ticket holders from November 16 were offered a $200 discount at the gift shop, but most fans in attendance had multi-day passes.
Race weekend activities continued like the incident did not happen, and the qualifying procedures went on as planned on the evening of November 17.
Max Verstappen won the race on November 19, holding off Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez for his 18th win of the season.
“I hope everyone enjoyed it, we definitely did,” Verstappen told the AP. “Excited to come back here next year and try to do something similar.”