Fans directed out of grandstands, Las Vegas GP, 2023

F1’s treatment of Las Vegas fans “obviously not acceptable” – Ocon

Formula 1

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Esteban Ocon sympathised with fans at the Las Vegas Grand Prix who were unable to watch the second practice session because the grandstands were closed.

The situation arose because second practice was delayed by two-and-a-half hours due to track repairs and inspections. These took place as the first practice session was abandoned after eight minutes when a loose water valve damaged two cars.

As a result of the delay, security staff were no longer available to supervise the spectator areas. The race promoter therefore told the remaining fans to leave.

Ocon, one of the drivers whose car was damaged in the opening practice session, was glad F1 managed to resume practice, but offered his sympathy to the fans who had bought tickets but saw no running today besides the severely truncated opening session.

“It’s been good to finally get some running,” said Ocon. “Obviously I’m feeling sorry for the fans out there, though.

“Hopefully we’ll catch back up on the show and have some good show for them tomorrow because they haven’t seen a car run today and that is obviously not acceptable.”

Alpine were able to repair his car in time for the second practice session. Ocon said he was fortunate to avoid injury when his car struck the valve on the Strip.

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“I was lucky that the session got delayed because my car was very damaged in FP1,” he explained. “So a bit of a crazy-emotion day, I would say.

“Luckily I’m fine, as well, because it could have easily come through the car, the object.”

“I’ve got a new car, a fresh car, which wasn’t really part of the plan,” he added.

Sergio Perez said he was “very sorry for the fans” and Daniel Ricciardo agreed the situation was unfortunate. However the AlphaTauri driver said F1 did the right thing by going ahead with second practice even if fans could not watch it.

“Obviously that’s a bummer, but I guess if we didn’t do the FP2, then it probably would’ve got scrapped and we just would have gone into FP3,” he said. “So at least like this, maybe the fans got to, at the very least, watch it on TV.

“We try to be positive, but it’s obviously a difficult situation. But I also don’t want to shit on the sport. It’s the first time here, it’s a massive project and things unfortunately happened. I know no one wanted them to, but I guess they did the best they could with what they had.

“We’re all in the same boat, we’re trying to all make it work. Of course it’s late and everyone’s probably a little bit grumpy but at least we got some running done.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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21 comments on “F1’s treatment of Las Vegas fans “obviously not acceptable” – Ocon”

  1. This is one of those rare situations in business where you have to throw the rulebook and protocol out of the window, put your hand in your back pocket and pay those security staff whatever it takes to stay on the job.

    Either that or take the risk on letting the fans stay after “closing time” so that they can atleast get their money’s worth and see some track action. Sadly it seems common sense did not prevail. I’d have been absolutely gutted to have been one of those fans.

    1. Indeed @shakenbake, I don’t know whether the security staff have evening jobs somewhere else, but with all the expenses not spared, common sense seems to also have gone.

    2. You can’t leave crowds unattended, but yeah, they should have done whatever it takes to keep the staff on site.

      F1 is hoping for an absolutely amazing race now to keep the thumbs-down-fans off the Monday papers.

    3. The real issue isn’t that they didn’t do whatever it takes. It’s that they didn’t preemptively have the security on for a few hours extra knowing that this kind of thing can and does happen. Contingency right?

      Yes it’s rare but it’s known to happen. As some have said it likely wasn’t possible to renegotiate on the fly to stay a few extra hours that’s not norna9hiw these things work.

      Also an unknown is wether fans had to be out by a certain time per the city. It’s a shame but it’s done now

    4. Remember that this is the same location that in 2017 saw 60 killed and 400+ injured at a music event by a lone shooter.

      Running an event like this without extensive on-duty security in a country where people regularly shoot each other in road rage incidents and disagreements in the aisles of Walmart is simply a no-go. May as well try to run an event with no security in Johannesburg.

    5. @shakenbake It’s not clear whether paying the staff more was an option.

  2. Liberty Media is an absolute disgrace to Formula 1.

  3. It’s okay. After all, the fans paid almost nothing for rhe tickets. *cough*

  4. If nothing else, this will go a long way toward making folk forget the 2005 US Grand Prix…maybe…

  5. Starting FP2 at 02:00 should’ve been okay, if not already 01:00, since nothing was going on anymore.

    1. as i understand they glued the covers with resin that needs to harden.
      Thats probably the reason it took longer then expected.
      Btw, the cover was correctly welded to the frame but it was the frame itself that came loose.
      So they had to check all the individual frames and decided to glue them in the tarmac.

    2. @jerejj The last drain didn’t get cemented until 02:15.

  6. Things that matter when you are trying to establish a fanbase for a sport in a certain market:
    – not embarrassing yourself with poor organization of the event
    – treatment of fans
    – a home team to root for

    What F1 is doing:
    – putting all of the money into hype and “show” that no F1 fan cares about, while leaving the track preparation for the last minute, and screwing it up
    – cancelling the first session for the paying fans in the stands
    – forcing out those who were prepared to wait for hours just to see some action from the second session
    – doing all in their power to sabotage the home team and prevent it from even entering the sport

    For a company that is trying to establish greater presence in US, they literally doing everything they can to sabotage that effort.

    1. The USA already has a home team (Haas), although one cannot exactly say the red carpet was rolled out for them after the honeymoon year either.

  7. Looks like Liberty need to employ one of the plethora of management consultant firms that advertises on TV and/or sponsors team to tell them how to organise a GP. They could introduce them to the idea of a contingency plan.

    There was always a possibility that there might be snags on a brand new, untested track that was only ‘finished’ a couple of days ago. To have assumed it would be ok to step down the security a couple of hours after FP2 should have finished, is incredibly amateurish. They have saved a few dollars by not paying overtime and lost a few millions worth of goodwill.

    1. @mrfill Perhaps it could ask the organisers of COTA, Miami, Canada, Brazil or Mexico to advise, given that all five have so far handled their weekends more competently?

  8. I’ve just got home from Vegas, after being told by a policeman to “get the ‘f’ outa here” while waiting for FP2 in the middle of the night. I had a rather expensive entry ticket, very expensive hotel reservation, airline travel, whatever.
    I don’t know who is in charge of this fiasco — FIA, Liberty Media, John Malone, some Vegas corporations, doesn’t matter, except that for me, I’ve traveled to about two hundred GPs over the last seventy three years and paid for TV coverage of several hundred more.
    Cost? I really can’t or don’t want to add it all up, because I love the top end of motor racing. Maybe I’m a bit privileged that I can afford it. Maybe I’m just an old and grumpy fan that has been ripped-off by this Vegas hype
    Conclusion? Formula 1 has been the greatest test-bed of automotive innovation for decades, but has now become a money-grabbing “show”, with all the hype to attract billionaires at the top end, and less knowledgeable social media users at the other end. So be it.

    1. I salute your love for the sport @paul-a

  9. What they should look at doing to try and mitigate this disaster is to extending P3 to 90 mins as well, to not only make up for the lack of P1 running but also so the fans can actually see something for their expensive tickets.

    Though I’d imagine that tyres would be a problem, though it would give teams an excuse to do some hard tyre running.

    1. There’s already knock-on problems.
      Day /night whatever times already need to be adjusted.
      FP3 cannot start until 18 hours after the conclusion of FP2. So that delay carries over.
      In addition Quali must begin at least 2 hours after but no more than 3 hours after conclusion of FP3 .
      So everything has already been pushed back but probably not communicated to those attending.
      I hope no celebrities are inconvenienced.

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