The Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend is anticipated to host hundreds of thousands of fans, but FP2 unfolded behind closed doors as spectators were cleared from the grandstands and fan zones before the session commenced.
This change occurred because FP1 was cancelled, causing a delay in the second practice session. The cancellation was prompted by Carlos Sainz's contact with a loose drain cover, resulting in chassis damage and a red flag being raised within the initial eight minutes of the session.
Following damage to both Sainz and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, essential engineering work was required, leading to a significant two-and-a-half-hour delay to the start of FP2.
As a result, fans were asked to vacate the grandstands and fan areas before the start of the session. An F1 announcement was sent to ticket holders, saying the decision was made due to "logistical issues."
Sky F1 pundit Ted Kravitz explained the reason behind removing fans from the areas, expressing sympathy for those who attempted to stay despite the unexpected delay.
“It looks to me now that the marshals, certainly on this grandstand opposite the pits, the police, the spectator marshals are making sure that everybody is leaving,” said Kravitz. “They’re clearing the grandstands and that I do feel extremely sorry.
“When we were all waiting, when I was waiting at the back straight or rather the second corner straight here, I could see there were, I would say about 60 to 80 hardy fans who were sitting, maybe having a nap, but they wanted to see FP2. My heart was with them, and I was happy that they were still going to stick with it.
“But according to the circuit, they can’t provide the staff, the marshals, the safety stewards for them to actually be looked after, for the fans to be looked after and kept safe and that’s why they’re making them leave the grandstands.”
The decision to remove fans sparked discussions on Reddit, where enthusiasts expressed their dissatisfaction with the move, particularly given the substantial cost of the tickets.
In response to one fan posting the official F1 statement about the removal, another fan under the name 'jonnys_honda' expressed disappointment, saying, "My seats at the Sphere were $218 for the day. Only day I was attending. First time attending a GP 😐."
Another fan shared their firsthand experience in a YouTube video, detailing the disappointment of being removed just half an hour before the commencement of FP2.
Unfortunately, those who purchased Friday tickets for the Las Vegas weekend and only witnessed eight minutes of on-track action are unlikely to receive any compensation. This situation mirrors the lack of payment seen previously when the Belgian Grand Prix was cancelled in 2021.
Despite the challenges faced on the opening day of live racing, F1 is eager to extend a warm welcome to all fans for the rest of the weekend, with the hope that Friday's issues will not be repeated.
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