F1 and Las Vegas GP CEO’s release statement on fans getting removed from the circuit before FP2

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F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and Las Vegas Grand Prix Renee Wilm have released a statement on the events of Friday at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

It all started to go wrong during FP1 as Carlos Sainz hit a loose water valve cover that heavily damaged his Ferrari. It also resulted in a disgraceful 10-place grid penalty for the Spaniard on Sunday as a new battery was required.

The statement released on Friday afternoon local time explained what happened, while also thanking the teams for their extraordinary work to make sure all 20 cars could run in the session after a gruelling day.

“Our top priority at Formula 1 is the safety and security of our drivers, employees, and fans. Responsibility for the oversight of a Formula 1 event falls with Formula 1 as the commercial rights holder of the sport, the FIA as the regulatory body, and the local promoter, in this case the Las Vegas Grand Prix. This is important for those who are new to racing to understand.

“Last night, approximately nine minutes into the first Free Practice session, a water valve cover broke on the straight on Las Vegas Boulevard. At that time the FIA, which is responsible for the safe running of the activities on the circuit, stopped the session so that we could look at the broken water valve cover and inspect the track. This has happened on occasion at other tracks at other races around the world.

“The precautionary step of removing all of the water valve covers on the entire track and filling them with sand and asphalt was undertaken. The entire process, from determination of the issue to remediation, took approximately five hours. The decision to remediate in this way was taken out of an abundance of caution and because the safety of drivers, trackside marshals and officials and our fans is always our highest priority. We thank the contractors who worked expeditiously to resolve the situation so quickly.

“As a result, the first Free Practice ended early. We moved ahead with the second Free Practice session at approximately 2:30 AM PT for 90 minutes.

“The decision to run the second Free Practice session at 2:30 AM PT was supported by all parties to ensure the sporting integrity of the remainder of the event.

“We would like to thank the drivers, mechanics and all the teams for their patience and commitment last night to ensure that we could run the session successfully.”

Attention then turned to fans who were booted out before the second session got underway.

According to a number of people online who got ejected, they were threatened with facing trespassing charges if they tried to remain in the grandstands. It meant they only got to see a few laps at the start of FP1 after paying thousands of dollars to attend a day of it.

An explanation of fatigue for safety and security officials, as well as transport workers, was given as to why this happened.

Remarkably, there is not even a hint of an apology or fans getting a refund.

“Now, let us turn to the fan experience.

“The delay in the start of the second Free Practice session from midnight to 2:30 AM PT created risks for our employees and our fans.

“We made the decision to close the fan areas that are under LVGP’s purview at 1:30 AM PT 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. 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.

“So how will we address this tonight?

“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.”

A separate piece of communication came later, stating that single-day pass holders for Thursday’s action have been given a $200 voucher for the race’s official store “as a thank you for your support”.

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool