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Formula 1 Las Vegas GP

F1 explains why spectators were ejected from Las Vegas track before FP2

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and Las Vegas GP boss Renee Wilm have released a joint statement addressing the issues that beset the event during its first evening of track activity.

Police eject fans from a grandstand

Track action finished at 4am local time on Friday morning, three hours later than scheduled, after a delay caused by the need to inspect and make secure all the water valve covers around the track.

This followed the curtailment of FP1 after Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz struck a cover at high speed, which had been torn loose by Esteban Ocon’s Alpine, wrecking the underside of his car.

Domenicali and Wilm stressed that the decision to press on and run FP2 “was supported by all parties to ensure the sporting integrity of the remainder of the event,” while thanking drivers and teams for their patience.

Regarding the controversial matter of spectators being ejected from the venue an hour before the delayed FP2 session finally started, they confirmed that it was a result of staffing issues, mainly related to the hours that security and transportation workers were legally able to remain on duty.

Police eject fans from a grandstand

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Police eject fans from a grandstand

They say that has been addressed tonight should qualifying stray beyond its scheduled finishing time of 1am PT.

“The delay in the start of the second free practice session from midnight to 2.30am created risks for our employees and our fans,” said the statement. “We made the decision to close the fan areas that are under LVGP’s purview at 1.30am 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.

“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 F1 races, that have been cancelled because of factors like weather or technical issues. It happens, and we hope people will understand.”

Explaining the changes introduced for Friday night, Domenicali and Wilm noted: “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.”

Work and discussion is undertaken to fix the loose water valve covers on track

Photo by: Francois Tremblay

Work and discussion is undertaken to fix the loose water valve covers on track

Domenicali and Wilm also addressed the work that had to be completed to ensure that the track could re-open for FP2, and which saw the water valve cover holes filled in with asphalt and sand.

“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,” they said.

“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.”

UPDATE: The LVGP has offered all single-day pass holders from Thursday a $200 voucher to spend at the Las Vegas Grand Prix Official Shop "as a thank you for your support".

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