Spectators, Las Vegas Strip Circuit, 2023

Fans shut out of Vegas practice deserve some kind of compensation – Wolff

Formula 1

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says fans who were not allowed to watch practice for the Las Vegas Grand Prix should receive some kind of compensation.

The first night of practice for the Las Vegas Grand Prix was badly disrupted after a water valve cover came loose and caused damage to two cars. The opening practice session was abandoned after just eight minutes of running.

The second practice session went ahead two-and-a-half hours later than planned, at 2:30am in a morning. However F1 had to close the grandstands to spectators as the security staff it had hired were not able to work that late.

As a result the second practice session went ahead in front of empty stands. Wolff said the circumstances were unfortunate but unavoidable due to the checks needed to ensure the track was safe.

“Thursday was so difficult with the drain cover coming loose [and then] the driving from 2:30 to 4am also to see whether everything was fine for the following day.

“I think it was unforeseen circumstances. You can’t make people to work [at the] track that late. And I think for next year, maybe we can create some kind of buffer. But it was unforeseen circumstances.”

Fans did not learn they would not be allowed to watch the second practice session until around an hour before it began – well after its original scheduled starting time. Wolff said they deserve to receive some kind of compensation.

“Often communication can do a lot to make the situation better,” he said. “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.”

Earlier in the weekend, speaking between the first two practice sessions, Wolff angrily dismissed suggestions F1 had been embarrassed by the disruption caused by the problem with the track. After the race Wolff described the event as a triumph.

“That was an awesome weekend,” he said. “The drain cover was nothing, like I said.

“When you look back at tonight on Sunday, spectacular race, great audiences, mega event. Some good racing at the front, that’s what I will remember [of the] inaugural Las Vegas race. Ticked all the boxes.”

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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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32 comments on “Fans shut out of Vegas practice deserve some kind of compensation – Wolff”

  1. Definitely for single-day tickets.

  2. As compensation, F1 could have offered these fans discounted tickets to another F1 race of their choosing.

  3. Seems 35k fans are sewing for 30k $ in compensation. Thats a nice billion dollar liability on liberties balance sheet.

    1. I’m not sure how someone would come to the realization that they’re entitled to $30k for missing two F1 free practice sessions. That is ridicules.

  4. Archibald Bumfluff
    20th November 2023, 14:32

    smells like a Belgium 2021 situation

  5. “That was an awesome weekend,” he said. “The drain cover was nothing, like I said.

    I don’t know what got into Toto, but this was definitely not nothing – ask Sainz. I am slowly being to loose some of my respect for both Toto and in lesser extent Lewis. One can only guess what their motivation is for up-talking this event – but they seem to be very out of touch with the issues that really mater and they themselves were so involved with. The whole Vegas event is so far removed from the We Race As One movement, just look at the prices and how the organizers have treated fans and locals alike – there is no inclusion or equality here – this event is exclusively for the rich and famous. Also how does this event (or any of the street races) add up to the Net Zero mission? With all those lights, building up and breaking down of the tracks – it’s far from sustainable.

    1. you’re trying to join some wierd dots. lol. F1 is not any kind of sustainable and it never has been, burning fuel going round in circles, flying hundreds of tons all over the world etc etc etc. Lewis’ team is sponsored by a brand that proudly names its SUV car after people who blow other people into little pieces with grenades! You can’t follow F1 and complain it’s not sane enough for you :)

      WeRaceAsOne is about race, not levelling up and being affordable. The drivers wear watches that stupidly cost £200k or whatever, to tell the time, it’s not supposed to be affordable

      So as a case for bashing Toto and Lewis, it’s a bit laboured, i.e. exposing

      1. Not sure what to think about the exposing part of the reply – apart from some of my major spelling errors (wish there was an edit function). But I think I get most of your point of view and maybe I am a bit naive. I always figured WeRaceAsOne was meant to make Motorsport and F1 more accessible and create more opportunities for people in all layers of society, no matter what background, ethnicity or gender you are – I think that starts with being able to experience F1 first hand and for young kids to get inspired visiting an actual race. So it kind of makes me sad to see Toto and Lewis heaping praise on an event that is the complete opposite and exclusively for a few privileged rich vips. As for my Net Zero comments, this was more a general thought, but in the same line – heaping praise on an event that will certainly not help achieving the Net Zero goal is a bit strange in current times. Maybe not for Motorsport fans but the CEO’s and Shareholders of big manufacturers won’t be to impressed once it turns out that the Net Zero promise was just a hollow PR stunt.

        Reply moderated
        1. You’re fine , bit confused abt race as one but so what. The thrust is fine. Don’t be intimidated.

          So as a case for bashing Toto and Lewis, it’s a bit laboured, i.e. exposing

          is far more trying to join weird dots than anything you wrote.

          1. Mate, I hear you. We race as one is more than just focusing on ethnic diversity and should include equal access for all. Indeed, F1 need to look more into this. Tickets at all GPs are so costly and its not just Vegas. Silverstone paddock club costs £3000 per individual. Drivers have been calling for this and I really home F1 listen and get some cheaper way of getting tickets. Maybe having a fan club which runs via subscription??

      2. The drivers wear watches that stupidly cost £200k or whatever, to tell the time

        Zann, someone was teasing me recently because I wear a watch and was having to adjust it for the change from sumer time to GMT. When I asked how they knew what time it was they said “Duhhh, phone”.

        1. lol yes exactly. An expensive watch is pure pose, how shallow must someone be to have one, it’s like writing ‘I’m rich baby’ on their forehead. A watch these says is like a remote for your phone, so you can see a few things leaving your phone in your bag or pocket, and once in a while the time can be handy. A stylish watch, like yours is i feel sure, can be nice as jewellery but still not what these drivers sponsored ones cost

          so anyway, the Pacific account is being a bit ridiculous blaming Toto and Lewis for F1 being expensive, the whole thing is status, status and status, and that means expensive and extravagant. As for kids, they have to get into karting, look nice and win everything and get sponsored, nothing to do with F1 being expensive

          Reply moderated
    2. I’m glad someone else has noticed the glaring audacity of Las Vegas, city of lights, to host an event that has claimed to target Net Zero emissions. F1 as a research lab for automobile advances, (while providing entertainment with races), is workable for me. Highlighting “The Show” in Las Vegas, a city that exemplifies greed and is, at best, negligent of sustainability, is a decision that will come back to haunt Liberty Media. Make a new track elsewhere in the US in order to harvest that market. Forget Miami….it seems like the after-child of Las Vegas 1980-81. Quit some of the tracks that have underperformed from a racing viewpoint and get on with it. I also concur that Toto and Lewis speak as new-age Ecclestones’.

      Reply moderated
    3. I am slowly being to loose some of my respect for both Toto and in lesser extent Lewis

      I would also but would need to find it first

      1. on the way of searching respect one can also search for some common sense. would help with distorted hate views. just saying…

    4. I mean, other team principals talked up this event. Not just Mercedes. Personally, I would take a Vegas race over Monaco while modern F1 cars are as wide as they are.

  6. The spectators were granted access to the event as per the conditions of their ticket purchase, so they don’t have any argument there. You can’t sit in the grandstands at 3:00am at many other circuits either….
    It’s certainly unfortunate that they couldn’t see what they wanted to see, of course – but they don’t have any further legal rights in regard to this. Any compensation would be purely commercial/PR in nature.

    Whatever, this will almost certainly be settled for a very modest sum, most likely with F1-specific vouchers (which cost Liberty literally nothing at all) – but nobody will be satisfied.
    Just another gentle reminder that F1 doesn’t exist or operate for viewers. Yet another reason not to have a separate commercial rights holder operating F1 – they do it for maximum profit of the mega-corporation kind.

    Reply moderated
    1. The spectators were granted access to the event as per the conditions of their ticket purchase, so they don’t have any argument there. You can’t sit in the grandstands at 3:00am at many other circuits either….

      At WEC 24 hour races you can, and you might notice that Las Vegas was a middle of the night race. When did FP2 start, 3:00 am or something?

      1. This wasn’t a 24hr event, though – it was planned and expected to be fully completed an hour before the 2:00am staffing limit, leaving the event staff ample time to secure the venue for daily shutdown.
        At most other events, the 2-hour delay wouldn’t even have happened – the session would have been cancelled and the practice day written off completely.

        The other factor not mentioned here is that this was the most desirable outcome for the teams, given the circumstances. Practice or no practice – which do you think they’d have been pushing for? We know how much influence they have in F1’s organisation and operations now…
        And now the teams call for compensation? They should be offering most of it themselves…

        Reply moderated
  7. Some kind? Isn’t it simpler to say that they deserve to get their money back? If they sue, they will be compensated beyond that, considering other expenses.

    1. They don’t care. They don’t expect those fans back, and figure it’s easier/cheaper to create new fans/suckers than to retain F1 fans or build the following. That’s what accountants, consultancy firms and PR people or for. Just look at the figures we have produced ourselves if you don’t believe us!
      What, the methodology?
      Sorry that’s commercial in confidence.
      There was a car company that knew of faults that resulted in people being no more, but figured it was cheaper to pay compensation than fix the problem. In the end it didn’t really affect their brand (long-term)
      Welcome to the New F1 order.

      1. Sounds like the Ford Pinto and exploding gas tanks….. I agree with you statement that they don’t care about the fans, only the money, but at some point people look at past performance and decide not to attend or watch; there can be a very abrupt tipping point but I’m guessing FOM will bail before then and pass the problem on to the next owners.

  8. Wow he’s really going out on a limb here isn’t he?

  9. The problem with Toto is, the 8 years of dominating the sport gave him an unhealthy leverage within key management of the sport.

    When he speaks he sounds as if he’s speaking on behalf of everyone, like the complete no go for letting any new teams in. It’s extremely unhealthy and the power balance needs restoring

    1. Oh man, wait till you here about the one team with the power of the veto.

      1. Oh man wait until the anti- dilution extortion is set at $1billion.
        Then watch the other teams owners ,principals etc as their greedy self interest smiles disappear and their guffaws at how clever they think they are choke them as Ferrari geets THEIR $9billion from the other teams in anti-dilution compensation.
        The other teams could go back and see if they can recover anything from previous iterations.
        And then sadly I woke to the morning.

  10. Between Ferrari and the FP1 fans sueing, I am not sure whether the event made people as much money as they thought.

    1. It definitely will – but mostly for lawyers.

    2. Ferrari has to do it to get their damage (of the car) compensated like any normal insurence case.

      The FP2 fans have a case as they were just going to see FP2 and then send away because security wasn’t paid for extra hours……..
      The FP1 fans would get minor things as that is a risk written on their entry fee.

  11. Some kind?
    I would advise them to follow Musk’s footsteps and file a thermonuclear lawsuit.

  12. Harsha Vardhan Maagalam
    21st November 2023, 11:51

    oooh this is nothing, its just FP1 and FP2, liberty media has done awesome job.

    Reply moderated
  13. Fans of 2021 Spa-Francochamps deserve compensation and are STILL waiting!

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