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"It happens," F1 tells ejected fans


Stopping short of an apology, F1 fails to explain why fans were allowed to wait for five hours before being ejected from Las Vegas track.

In a statement issued by F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali and Renee Wilm, CEO of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, while explaining the need to abandon Thursday's opening session after just 8 minutes of running, when addressing the need to eject fans from their seats in the minutes before FP2, neither apologises for the controversial move.

Indeed, offering said fans a $200 voucher for F1 merchandise - though only those with single day tickets - might be seen as adding insult to injury.

Despite the claim that various officials "had been in service for a long time" and were "being asked to work for the next three nights", this was known at the time the decision was made to abandon the first session.

As repairs to the track got underway, it was already known that FP2 wouldn't get begin until 02:00 - 02:30 if at all, so why were those fans forced to sit in temperatures of 17 degrees C for several hours for nothing.

While F1 and sections of the media might explain this away, this really isn't good enough, and the fact that no apology has been issued makes it even worse.

Incredibly, on Sky Sports, Danica Patrick justified the move.

"Part of the event here in Vegas is the spectacle that it is," she said. "It's everything around the cars, not just the cars, so I'm sure they were able to enjoy that with the suites, and the view and the entertainment and the opening ceremonies were just stunning... there's so many things about this city.

"People come to Vegas for Vegas," she continued, "so they still had plenty to do. Obviously an unfortunate situation, but I think in the end, they'll all be great."

Domenicali and Wilm appeared equally lacking in understanding, saying: "It happens."

Anyway, pending any legal action those ungrateful fans might be considering, here's the official statement.

"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.

"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."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Las Vegas here.


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1. Posted by dejan, 18/11/2023 21:30

"From the start this was a bad planning time wise. And I can understand why you'd want to secure the stands.

But come on, offering credits for merchandise as compensation? The minimum should have been to refund the money, give the credit for merchandise and probably include full three-day tickets to the race next year (or at least Thu/Fri tickets - given the empty seats this year they will probably not lose that much).

We know that corporate greed is big here in the US, but here you can also be declared guilty in the court of public opinion and there is no easy way to appeal that."

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2. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 18/11/2023 13:58

"I hope the fans see their day in court, charge back on their credit cards, or do something that refunds at least that day's cost of the weekend.

This is almost as bad as Indy was years ago.

Absolutely no excuse as the fans at the event are the primary consumer of the event. Bernie would've done more for the fans. Shame on Liberty."

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3. Posted by Max Noble, 18/11/2023 8:23

"02:30AM… seriously! What sport starts sporting action at that time of day? Crossing the Rubicon and all that… Or jumping the shark… or offering 25% off all ice orders on the Titanic *after* that impact… I’m going to be fascinated to see the dollar fallout from this race, as the casinos will pull the rug in an instant for missing dollars. This could prove to be a chalice of not-so-fun for Liberty… let’s wait and see what the race delivers… assuming the drivers do not fall asleep at the wheel…


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4. Posted by @R1Racing71, 18/11/2023 7:33

"I’ll never moan about Silverstone again….."

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5. Posted by Fambank, 18/11/2023 6:55

""We already got you money, now f-off.""

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6. Posted by KKK, 18/11/2023 6:48

""Its not about F1 but its Las Vegas".....yup, you got it mate !"

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