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Formula 1 Las Vegas GP

Wolff: F1's "extraordinary" Las Vegas GP shows criticism was overblown

Mercedes' Toto Wolff says Formula 1's "extraordinary" event in Las Vegas shows that early criticism of the grand prix was blown "out of proportion".

General view of the start finish line from above at the Las Vegas GP

F1's much-anticipated return to Vegas got off to a bad start on Thursday when water valve covers were ripped up by Carlos Sainz' Ferrari and Alpine's Esteban Ocon, which halted FP1 after nine minutes and led to a long delay for FP2, by which time spectators were sent home.

FP1's track issues were met with a barrage of criticism from fans and media, which Wolff labelled as "completely ridiculous".

Mercedes was one of the teams that had bought significantly into F1's Vegas return with a bespoke hospitality unit, as the event was billed as a huge commercial coup for the series and its stakeholders.

After Saturday night's entertaining race he felt the event had "ticked all the boxes".

"Lots of things that were said look a little bit out of proportion or too negative because we are leaving Las Vegas after a great weekend," he said.

"I think it will have increased the popularity of Formula 1 in the United States, for sure. There is nothing negative that I can find. 

He added: "The drain cover was nothing, like I said.
 
"When I look back at tonight; a spectacular race, great audiences, a mega event and some good racing at the front, that’s what I will remember of the inaugural Las Vegas race that ticked all of the boxes.” 

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, in the team principals Press Conference

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, in the team principals Press Conference

When pressed on how the public being turned away from free practice two, which for clarity occurred after Wolff's initial comments, could not been seen as a negative, he replied: “I think that Thursday was so difficult anyway with the drain cover coming loose, then the driving from 2:30am to 4:00am, also to see whether everything was fine for the following day.

"It was unforeseen circumstances and you can’t make people work here on the track that late. For next year, maybe we could create some kind of buffer.

“Often, communication can do a lot to make the situation better. I hope for the people that ended up upset for the right reasons, we can find a good package for next year so they can enjoy the race and, in a way, maybe we can pay them back for the unfortunate situation.” 

When asked by Motorsport.com/Autosport if something can be done to improve the event's punishing timetable, Wolff agreed with fellow team bosses that bringing sessions forward would be a good idea.

“I think that it’s logistics. How do you manage the traffic situation in Las Vegas [if you have to close the roads earlier]?," he replied.

"I don’t want to find a hair in the soup because it was so great. We can look at the detail of the timing and maybe have qualifying a little bit earlier.

"But that's a detail, the whole thing was great.”  

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