The long-awaited inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix took over the Strip over the weekend, but it didn't come without its fair share of hiccups. Just nine minutes into the first practice session on Nov. 16, Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr. ran over a water valve cover and damaged his Ferrari. The snafu resulted in a two-and-a-half-hour delay as fans were ushered out of the viewing areas while race officials inspected the course. When the second practice session of the night kicked off in the early morning hours on Nov. 17, the stands were closed to the public.
Those disgruntled spectators are now taking action, filing a lawsuit in Nevada state court against the Las Vegas Grand Prix and its owner Liberty Media seeking upwards of $30,000 in damages. According to The Associated Press, those fans were offered a $200 discount at the official race gift shop, but the discount only applied to those who held single-night tickets for Thursday. That presents quite a problem as most of the attendees bought three-day tickets for the weekend.
F1 President Stefano Domenicali and Las Vegas Grand Prix CEO Renee Wilm issued a statement after the practice session debacle explaining why they decided to close the spectator viewing areas.
“We know this was disappointing," they acknowledged. "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."
The organizers went on to liken the nearly three-hour delay and removal of fans to a sports game being shut down due to rain. "We have all been to events, like concerts, games and even other Formula 1 races, that have been canceled because of factors like weather or technical issues," the statement read. "It happens, and we hope people will understand."
Decorated F1 racer and three-time world champion Max Verstappen took home the grand prize for the Las Vegas GP. Hopefully fans next year can watch every second of the action from the first practice session to the final race without a hitch.