F1 Issues Non-Apology Apology, Merch Vouchers to Ticketed Fans Ejected From Practice

Posted on: November 17, 2023, 11:38h. 

Last updated on: November 18, 2023, 11:12h.

Ticketed fans ejected from Friday morning’s Las Vegas Grand Prix (LVGP) practice received vouchers for Formula 1 merchandise but no apology from F1 for literally being put out.

F1 fans express their feelings when asked by security to leave the grandstands during the disastrous first practice session of the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix early Friday morning. (Image: James Moy Photography/PA Images)

Eight minutes into the first LVGP practice at 11:38 p.m. on Thursday, a loose manhole cover on the racetrack was sucked up by Carlos Sainz’s $15 million Ferrari, severely damaging the car and necessitating a red flag as crews frantically checked all manhole covers along the 3.8-mile track.

All necessary repairs to the track were made in time for the second practice session to proceed as scheduled at 3 a.m. Friday, after waiting two hours, fans were ejected from their seats at 1:30 a.m.

Sorry Not Sorry

Later on Friday, F1 CEO Stefano Domencali and LVGP CEO Renee Wilm tweeted a joint statement. It explained the events leading to the infuriating outcome but did not apologize to ejected ticketholders, some of whom spent up to $50K on three-day passes.

It brushed off the disaster, comparing it to other failed sports and entertainment events and stating that “it happens.”

On Friday night, F1 posted another statement, again with no apology, stating that anyone who purchased a single-day ticket for Friday would receive a $200 voucher for race merchandise.

No refunds or discounts were announced for anyone who purchased a three-day ticket.

F1’s Statement

“We made the decision to close the fan areas that are under LVGP’s purview at 1:30 am PT and send fans home,” read F1’s initial statement. “Let us explain why.

F1 crews fix the loose concrete frame that let a manhole cover get sucked up by a Ferrari late Thursday night. (Image: racer.com)

“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 Clark County’s Metro Police Department, Department of Public Works and other public safety officials for their incredible support during the event and also as we reopened 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 canceled because of factors like weather or technical issues. It happens, and we hope people will understand.”